The Tigers, ranked No. 2 this week by Baseball America magazine, began the 2004 season by winning two of three games last weekend at UCF in Orlando, Fla. LSU captured the first two games by scores of 4-3 (10 innings) and 17-4 before dropping a 10-inning, 6-5 decision in Game 3.
UL-Monroe defeated Grambling State, 20-1, last Friday. The Indians' scheduled doubleheader with Mississippi Valley State Saturday was postponed due to inclement weather.
Bonura, a product of St. Charles Catholic High School in LaPlace, La., made a relief appearance in the Tigers' 17-4 victory over UCF on Saturday. He worked two innings allowing two earned runs on one hit with two walks and one strikeout.
UL-Monroe will counter with sophomore right-hander Matt Green (0-0, 0.00 ERA) who pitched two innings of scoreless relief in the win over Grambling.
LSU coach Smoke Laval served as the ULM coach for seven seasons (1994-2000), and he led the Indians to three NCAA Regional appearances and two Southland Conference championships.
Brad Holland, Laval's top assistant at ULM, is in his fourth season as the Indians' coach.
LSU pitching coach Brady Wiederhold worked as an assistant coach under both Laval and Holland at ULM, and LSU administrative assistant Ted White is a former all-conference catcher for the Indians. White played for both Laval and Holland during his ULM career.
LSU leads the all-time series with ULM, 33-8, including a 9-4 victory over the Indians last season in Baton Rouge. Laval has a 5-0 mark against ULM as LSU's head coach; Holland has a 1-6 mark in his career versus the Tigers.
The UCF series last weekend marked the first time the Tigers opened the season on an opponent's home field since LSU played at UCF in 1985. The series also marked the first time LSU played two extra-inning games in the same weekend since 2001 at Georgia, where the Tigers and the Bulldogs battled in three 11-inning games.
The Game 2 win over UCF marked the return of all-SEC pitcher Lane Mestepey, who earned the win in his first appearance since June, 2002. Mestepey, who sat out last season after undergoing shoulder surgery, worked five innings against UCF, limiting the Knights to one run on five hits with two walks and one strikeout.
Mestepey got plenty of run support in the 17-4 victory, as the Tigers blasted five home runs in the contest. It marked the first time LSU belted five homers in a game since May 26, 2000, when the Tigers hit five HRs in an NCAA Regional victory over Jackson State in Alex Box Stadium.
LSU hit a total of seven homers in the UCF series, each by a different player. First baseman Clay Harris was the most productive LSU hitter over the weekend, as he batted .400 with one double, one homer and five RBI.
Louisiana-Monroe (1-0) at #2 LSU (2-1)
DATE/TIME: Feb. 17/6:30 p.m.
STADIUM: Alex Box Stadium(7,760)
LSU (#2 Baseball America, #4 Collegiate Baseball, #5 ESPN/Sports Weekly)
RADIO: LSU Sports Network (WDGL-FM 98.1 in Baton Rouge)