The No. 3 Tigers (7-1) have hosted a team from the nation's most academically prestigious conference each season since 2009. For those programs up north, it provides a reprieve from the wintry cold and a welcoming place to start the season.
Ivy League rules prohibit their teams from opening play until this weekend of the season, and that's what Yale will do starting Friday night at 7 p.m in Alex Box Stadium. The Bulldogs will trip down to Baton Rouge for the first meeting between these two programs since 1908.
Outside of that meeting 106 years ago, LSU holds an 11-1 record against the Ivy League in the last five seasons.
"They're really clones of each other," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri of the Ivies. "Kids that have an opportunity to go there, you know how intelligent they are, but they can also attract some good ballplayers that want to get the value of a degree from an Ivy League school."
Game 1 – 7 p.m.
LSU – Jr. RHP Aaron Nola (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 13.0 IP, 1 BB, 14 SO)
YALE – Sr. LHP David Hickey (4-2, 2.15 ERA, 37.2 IP, 9 BB, 35 SO in 2013 season)
Game 2 – 2 p.m.
LSU – Jr. LHP Kyle Bouman (2-0, 1.64 ERA, 11.0 IP, 0 BB, 4 SO)
YALE – Fr. RHP Chasen Ford (first collegiate appearance)
Game 3 - Noon
LSU – Jr. LHP Cody Glenn (1-1, 3.60 ERA, 10.0 IP, 2 BB, 4 SO)
YALE – Sr. RHP Michael Coleman (3-4, 3.13 ERA, 54.2 IP, 13 BB, 18 SO in 2013 season)
Yale has not yet played a game in 2014, and the Bulldogs are coming off a 2013 season in which they finished 13-24, 10-10 in conference. Yale does have a veteran team though, with 14 juniors and senior on the roster. The Bulldogs also return their top three hitters from last year's squad and the top two starters and bullpen arms.
"Those kids are very mature, very confident," Mainieri said. "They'll come out here and won't be intimidated, they won't be afraid. We'll need to be ready to play. They'll be very competitive games."
With just two weekends remaining of non-conference play, Mainieri's starting to settle on the makeup of his team. That being said, the LSU coach is still juggling some things around, and this weekend will feature a slightly different look than the previous two.
Cody Glenn will enter the weekend rotation for the first time this season. This has been Mainieri's plan all along, as he wants freshman Jared Poche to pitch on the road next Tuesday against Northwestern State.
Glenn's previous two starts had come in midweek games, including a loss against Louisiana-Lafayette on Tuesday.
"His two-seamer didn't have the movement, the sink that it usually has," Mainieri said. "He was throwing harder than I've seen him throw in a long time. Unfortunately when he throws harder, his fastball has a tendency to straighten out."
Glenn surrendered three runs and five hits against the Cajuns, but Mainieri stopped short of calling it a struggle for the junior pitcher. Two of those hits were infield singles, and another came on a hard grounder to Christian Ibarra that took a bad hop.
"I don't think he pitched terribly, but he can certainly pitch better than that," Mainieri said. "I'd like to see him go out there and get his two-seamer working a bit better and make some good pitches. Hopefully he will."
The starting pitchers won't be as restricted to a pitch count as they have in their previous starts. The coaches have mostly pulled the plug once the pitchers reached 70-80 pitches, but Mainieri said he'll extend their outings if the game calls for it.
"We're going to play it more traditional," Mainieri said. "I wouldn't say exactly like an SEC game. I don't see any of the pitchers going beyond 100 pitches, but if the game's on the line and they're pitching well, we'll extend them. We won't just extend them for the sake of extending them, but we'll just see how each game plays."
But with two midweek games coming after this weekend's series, there should be plenty of pitches to go around.
"We need to get all those guys into the game," Mainieri said. "But there will be plenty of opportunities in the next five games. There will be plenty of innings to pitch. We won't be struggling to get any guys work."
The race at catcher may be down to two. Tyler Moore started behind the plate Tuesday but allowed three runners to steal on him. While Mainieri said he hasn't given up on Moore, he plans to start Chris Chinea on Friday, Kade Scivicque on Saturday, and doesn't yet know what he'll do Sunday.
"I thought Tyler caught a good game [Tuesday]," Mainieri said. "He's a good receiver. He blocks the plate well. He's a leader back there. He's just not blessed with a terribly strong throwing arm."
There's also been some shakeup on the right side of the infield. Freshman Kramer Robertson will get his second consecutive start at second base, with Conner Hale manning first base.
Robertson called Tuesday's start a "humbling experience" after committing a costly base running error and another in the field that led to a run. Mainieri isn't giving up on the first-year player though, and he'll have an opportunity Friday to remind fans of what he can do.
"You're going to make mistakes in baseball," Robertson said. "You're not going to be perfect every game. It wasn't the first error I've ever made, and it won't be my last. But it's all in how you respond."
For Hale, he's been a jack-of-all-trades since arriving at LSU in the fall. He came to Baton Rouge as a third baseman, but Mainieri soon began experimenting with him at first base. He opened the season as the Tigers' starting second baseman, but the coaches continue to move him around in order to find the best combination.
"He's just trying to find the best lineup," Hale said. "Whatever's the best lineup of players are out there, he's going to play them…It doesn't really affect me that much as long as I'm playing and I'm in the lineup."