No. 4 Lehigh vs. No. 1 LSU
Baton Rouge, La. | Alex Box Stadium
Friday, May 29 - 3 p.m.
LHP Nick Macaione (3-4, 2.82 ERA) vs. RHP Alden Cartwright (0-0, 3.79)
HOW THEY GOT HERE
Lehigh made the NCAA Tournament after winning the Patriot League championship tournament as a No. 2 seed. The Mountain Hawks won consecutive three-game series against Holy Cross and Navy to take the title and clinch their spot. This marks the second time in program history that Lehigh has made the NCAA Tournament, the first since 2006.
WHAT’S ON THE LINE
A win in the opening game makes for a much easier path to the next round. Start a regional with a win, and it takes only two more to make the Super Regional. Lose your first game and you have to win four games in three days to stay alive. The good news for LSU — the Tigers have never lost in the opening game of a regional when ranked the No. 1 seed (a 20-0 record). LSU is 68-11 all-time in regional games.
Lehigh will start senior lefty Nick Macaione, the team’s ace, against LSU on Friday. Macaione threw 9 innings of a combined no-hitter early in the season. He also pitched a 10-inning complete game in the Patriot League tournament. Macaione isn’t an overpowering pitcher. His fastball will likely sit 84-86 mph, but he throws multiple pitches for strikes and let’s the defense play behind him.
“He’s a tempo guy,” said Lehigh coach Sean Leary. “If he’s pounding the zone and we catch the ball for him, we’ll be able to be competitive with anybody we feel. A senior on the mound is best suited for that big No. 1 game for us.”
Lehigh has about five or six relievers on whom they rely heavily. The best among them is junior Kevin Bostwick, who leads the team group with a 3.74 ERA. LSU might also expect to see Brandon Kulp (3.74), Jordan Smith (4.15), David Young (4.24) or Connor Donovan (7.60).
HITTERS TO WATCH
Justin Pacchioli, CF | SEASON: .348 BA, .453 SLG, .489 OBP, 18 RBI, 48 R, 31 SB
Jacen Nalesnik, RF | SEASON: .311 BA, .409 SLG, .374 OBP, 35 RBI, 28 R
Mike Garzillo, 2B | SEASON: .363 BA, .657 SLG, .428 OBP, 54 RBI, 43 R, 13 HR
THEY SAID IT
Lehigh coach Sean Leary on spending Wednesday in New Orleans…
“We were able to go down to the French Quarter and get some lunch…Our guys spread out and we got a chance to take in the culture down there…We took a walk around town, Jackson Square, Bourbon Street — we only gave them 20 minutes [on Bourbon] to make sure it was a short stop.”
Leary on welcoming the opportunity to play at Alex Box…
“This is the Duke of college baseball. We knew we were going to have our hands full no matter what, so we just thought it would be awesome to be in an environment where people appreciate the game. We realize that comes with tremendous talent on the other side, but our guys are enthusiastic to be on this type of stage.”
Leary on how you prepare for 10,000+ people in attendance…
“Someone asked me how to simulate 10,000 people. I don’t know. We opened practice this week, inviting our community to come out and razz us a little bit. And even that drew maybe 400. We just can’t simulate that part of it.”