LSU opens regional play with Army

LSU's quest for a sixth national championship begins this weekend when it plays host to an NCAA Regional for the 15th consecutive year at Alex Box Stadium.

The Tigers, winners of eight consecutive NCAA Regional titles, will face fourth-seeded Army -- 2004 Patriot League champions -- at 2 p.m. on Friday. LSU owns a 1-0 all-time mark versus the Black Knights, defeating them 1-0 in 1980.

The Tigers (No. 8 ESPN/Sports Weekly, No. 12 Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball) posted a 41-17 overall mark and a 18-12 SEC record, as LSU clinched its 15th straight season with at least 40 victories.

LSU coach Smoke Laval will send sophomore right-hander Justin Meier (5-2, 4.12 ERA) to the mound Friday, while Army coach Joe Sottolano will counter with freshman left Nick Hill (10-2, 2.24 ERA), the Pitcher of the Year in the Patriot League.

The Tigers dropped two consecutive games in the SEC Tournament last week in Birmingham, Ala., falling to Florida 5-4 in 10 innings and losing a 1-0 heartbreaker to Georgia, but have still won 12 of their last 18 games. If LSU wins the Baton Rouge Regional this weekend, it will advance to the Super Regional round and face the winner of the Houston Regional, hosted by defending national champion Rice. The Super Regional will be held from June 11-14.

This season's NCAA Baton Rouge Regional field features no Louisiana schools, besides LSU, for the first time since 2001. No. 2 seed Southern Mississippi and third-seeded College of Charleston will join the Tigers and Army in this year's bracket.

Alex Box Stadium plays host to its 15th straight NCAA regional and 16th overall. "The Box" has hosted regional tournaments in 1986 and 1990 through 2003. The 15-year streak is second only to Texas, which hosted 16 straight seasons (1979-1994).

LSU has won eight straight regional tournaments and has not been eliminated from a regional since 1995. Rice, led by current Major League players Lance Berkman and Jose Cruz, Jr., eliminated the Tigers in '95 before falling to Cal State Fullerton in the regional championship game.

Two Super Regionals have taken place at Alex Box Stadium (2000 and 2003). LSU captured both super regional series at home, beating UCLA in 2000 by scores of 8-2 and 14-8 before winning its fifth national championship in Omaha, Neb.

Baylor knocked off the Tigers, 4-1, in the first game of the 2003 Super Regional, but LSU responded winning the next two games to end its two-year College World Series drought.

With one more NCAA Tournament victory, LSU will reach the 100-win plateau, joining Texas, Southern California, Arizona State, Miami (Fla.) and Stanford as the only schools to win at least 100 games in NCAA Tournament history.

The Tigers currently hold the highest all-time NCAA Tournament winning percentage, posting a 99-37 record (.728) since its first NCAA berth in 1975.

GAME FACTS -- NCAA BATON ROUGE REGIONAL (Game 1) Army (37-13) at #8 LSU (41-17)
DATE/TIME: Friday, June 4 - 2 p.m.
STADIUM: Alex Box Stadium - Baton Rouge, La. (7,760)
RANKINGS: LSU (#8 ESPN/Sports Weekly,#12 Baseball America, #12 Collegiate Baseball); Army (unranked)
RADIO: LSU Sports Network, including flagship WDGL-FM 98.1 in Baton Rouge
TV: Cox Sports Television (Cable Ch. 37 in Baton Rouge)

Justin Meier (5-2, 4.12 ERA, 91.2 IP, 26 BB, 66 SO) ARMY - Fr. LHP Nick Hill (10-2, 2.24 ERA, 80.1 IP, 21 BB, 78 SO)

No. 1 seed LSU: 41-17, 18-12 SEC (3rd overall, t-2nd West, t-7th in SEC Tournament) Coach:
Smoke Laval
No. 2 seed Southern Miss: 44-17, 21-9 Conference USA (t-2nd overall, 2nd in C-USA Tournament) Coach: Corky Palmer
No. 3 seed College of Charleston: 45-14, 25-5 Southern Conference (champions, t-3rd in Southern Conference Tournament) Coach: John Pawlowksi
No. 4 seed Army: 37-13, 17-3 Patriot League (champions, Patriot League Tournament champions) Coach: Joe Sottolano


  (1) LSU (2) USM (3) C of C (4) Army
Avg. .334 .318 .342 .320
Runs 465 495 518 359
HR 73 88 48 39
RBI 424 446 459 327
SLG% .513 .517 .491 .469
OB% .400 .398 .432 .397
SB 41 21 108 73
FLD% .969 .917 .960 .958
ERA 3.67 4.69 4.30 3.40
Saves 6 14 18 9
BB 145 214 133 112
K 364 452 453 311
Opp Avg. .271 .277 .266 .259

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