Super Regional Preview: LSU vs. Oklahoma

No. 4 national seed LSU (55-9) will host Oklahoma (43-19) as the Baton Rouge Super Regional is set to begin on Friday at 6:00 p.m. Friday's game will feature two of the top pitchers in all of college baseball and should provide a stiff test for both offenses.

Just a week ago, LSU (55-9) survived the Baton Rouge Regional by defeating Jackson State, Sam Houston State and UL-Lafayette. The Tigers will get another stiff test this weekend from Oklahoma (43-19) as both teams will be vying for a trip to Omaha and a spot in the final group of eight teams in college baseball. Oklahoma enters the weekend after winning the Blacksburg, Va. Regional. Along the way, the Sooners defeated Coastal Carolina, Connecticut and Virginia Tech.

Entering the weekend, both teams are somewhat hot, with LSU coming off of Regional and SEC Tournament Championships. Oklahoma has won eight straight on their way to claiming the Big 12 Tournament Title and winning their Regional.

Pitching has been key for both teams throughout the season, with LSU and Oklahoma having two of the top pitching staffs in the nation in 2013. LSU will send ace Aaron Nola to the mound to kick things off on Friday night against Oklahoma. The Tigers would like to have a chance to shut things down on Saturday and that is a prime reason why coach Paul Mainieri decided to go with his best guy on Friday night. On the season, Nola is 11-0 with a 1.82 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 109 innings pitched.

Nola will be facing off against one of the best pitchers in college baseball in Oklahoma ace Jonathan Gray. The big right-hander was selected with the no. 3 overall pick by the Colorado Rockies in the 2013 MLB Draft. One look at his statistics and it's easy to see why, as Gray went 10-2 with a 1.59 ERA and 138 strikeouts in 119 innings pitched.

Mainieri is very excited to see the matchup between Nola and Gray unfold in Alex Box Stadium on Friday night.

"This is the kind of game that comes down to a pitch, a play or an at-bat," said Mainieri. "This is a big game. We're going with our guy against their guy on national television. It should be a fun game to watch."

After Nola, it is not known what the LSU rotation will look like for the rest of the weekend. There are a couple of routes that the LSU coaching staff could go on Saturday with either junior Ryan Eades or sophomore Cody Glenn. The best bet would be Eades simply because Glenn has to play catch-up after missing a week of action due to a suspension by Mainieri.

Eades was selected in the second round with the 43rd overall pick by the Minnesota Twins in the MLB Draft after compiling an 8-1 record with a 2.81 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 96 innings pitch. Glenn is also draft-eligible in 2013 as a sophomore. He is 7-2 with a 2.41 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 82 innings pitching in 2013. Who pitches on Saturday will be dependent on how the Friday night game unfolds, according to LSU's Mainieri.

"I'm going to take a wait and see approach," said Mainieri. "I want to watch the game a little bit and see how it goes before we make a decision there. We will have all of our guys ready."

Whoever pitches for LSU on Saturday will be going up against another top pitcher in Oklahoma's Dillon Overton. Like Eades, the left-hander was a second round selection and 63rd overall pick by the Oakland Athletics on Thursday night. Overton is 9-2 on the season with a 2.91 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 86.2 innings pitched.

Overall, the pitching matchups between the two teams will feature a lot of future big league talent and should be intriguing to watch.

Offensively, the two teams are much more different. LSU sports a lineup that has five players hitting over the .300 mark. They are led by freshman Alex Bregman with a .385 average, six homeruns and 52 RBI. Next up is Mason Katz with a .378 average, 15 homeruns and 68 RBI. These two players hit three and four in the order and have been responsible for a lot of production for the Tigers in 2013.

Oklahoma has a bit of a different approach on offense. The Sooners don't have the type of lineup that LSU does with numerous players hitting for average. Instead, they are led by Matt Oberste and Max White at the plate. These are the only two hitters in the OU lineup to have averages over .300. Oberste is known for his power as he is hitting .376 with 11 homeruns and 60 RBI heading into the weekend. White is sitting at .313 with 3 homeruns and 32 RBI.

Oklahoma likes to play small-ball and execution on the offensive side of the game is key to the success of their aggressive style of play. LSU's Mainieri thinks that the LSU defense will be prepared for whatever Oklahoma throws at them this weekend.

The two teams will face off beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday night with games continuing on Saturday at the same time. If necessary, the Sunday matchup will also be at 6:00 p.m. In terms of television, Friday's game will be televised on ESPN with Saturday and Sunday being slotted for ESPN2.


TSD's Hunter Paniagua and Austin Cooper preview the LSU-Oklahoma series in the latest TSD TV video below. Click the link to get the scoop on what to watch for this weekend.

TSD TV: Previewing the Baton Rouge Super Regional

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