LSU opens SEC action at Kentucky

No. 8 LSU (16-3) travels to Lexington, Ky. this weekend as the Tigers begin Southeastern Conference play against the Kentucky Wildcats (15-3) in Cliff Hagan Stadium.

Game 1 of the LSU-UK series is set for 5:30 p.m. CST Friday, Game 2 begins at Noon CST Saturday and Game 3 starts at 11 a.m. CST Sunday.


The games on Saturday and Sunday will be televised by the Jumbo Sports Network. Saturday's game can be seen in Baton Rouge on WGMB (Cable Ch. 6) and Sunday's game will be carried on WBRL (Cable Ch. 10).


LSU coach Smoke Laval said he is looking forward to seeing his club begin SEC competition.


"We're right where we should be," Laval said, "and I'm proud of the way our guys have played the game this season. We don't have a dominant pitcher, but we have a staff of eight or nine guys who complement one another. We probably don't have a high draft pick in our lineup, but we have nine guys who find ways to win.


"We're going into a very difficult place to play against a tremendous Kentucky club, so we'll be challenged right at the start of SEC play."


Laval said junior left-hander Clay Dirks (3-1) will start Friday's opener on the mound against the Wildcats. Dirks earned his third victory of the season with a superb outing against Stetson last Friday. He limited the Hatters to one run on only four hits (all singles) in eight innings with one walk and eight strikeouts.


Dirks lowered his team-best ERA to 1.84; in 29.1 innings this season, he has recorded six walks and 36 strikeouts, and opponents are hitting just .208 against him.


Kentucky coach John Cohen is scheduled to counter with senior left-hander Aaron Tennyson (3-1, 3.45 ERA).


The series matches two of the SEC's most potent offensive clubs. Through games of March 12, LSU led the league in batting average (.340), hits (214), triples (11), total bases (328), slugging percentage (.521) and sacrifice bunts (19). Kentucky was No. 1 in the conference in runs scored (151), doubles (51), RBI (128) and on-base percentage (.439).


LSU infielder J.T. Wise was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday as he hit .563 (9-for-16) in the Tigers' four games last week with one double, one homer, two RBI and two runs. His solo homer against No. 12 Tulane last Tuesday capped a three-run rally for the Tigers, erasing a 2-0 deficit in the sixth inning of a game LSU went on to win by a 4-3 score.


Wise is hitting .377 (26-for-69) on the year with six doubles, one homer 14 RBI and eight runs.


Senior right fielder Quinn Stewart enjoyed a record-setting outing in the Tigers' series victory over Stetson last week, becoming the 10th player in LSU history to hit three homers in a single game. He launched three dingers in the Tigers' 11-7 victory over the Hatters on Saturday, and he also provided a sacrifice fly for a total of six RBI on the day. For the series, Stewart hit .455 (5-for-11) with one double, four homers, eight RBI and four runs.


Stewart, who has belted six homers in his last eight games, raised his cumulative average to .357 (25-for-70) with three doubles, two triples, seven homers and 25 RBI. He leads the SEC in total bases (53), slugging percentage (.757) and home runs (7).

The Kentucky lineup is paced by junior infielder Ryan Strieby (.387, 10 2B, 3 HR, 23 RBI) and junior catcher Sean Coughlin (.340, 4 2B, 5 HR, 15 RBI). The Wildcats are hitting .319 as a team and have blasted 16 home runs.


LSU leads the all-time series with Kentucky, 33-15, including a 2-1 series victory over the Wildcats last season in Baton Rouge. LSU has won seven straight SEC series against Kentucky, and the Tigers have an 18-6 mark against the Wildcats over the past 11 seasons.


The Wildcats' last series victory over LSU came in 1994 in Lexington when Kentucky won the first two games of the series and Game 3 was rained out. LSU has since fashioned a 7-2 mark at Kentucky, including series wins in 1998, 2000 and 2004.




# 8 LSU Fighting Tigers (16-3) at Kentucky Wildcats (15-3)



Friday, March 17 – 5:30 p.m. CST; Saturday, March 18 – Noon CST; Sunday, March 19 – 11 a.m. CST 



Cliff Hagan Stadium (3,000) in Lexington, Ky.



LSU (# 8 Collegiate Baseball, # 10 USA Today/ESPN, # 11 Baseball America)

Kentucky (unranked)




LSU leads, 33-15 (first meeting in 1975)



Game 1

LSU -- Jr. LHP Clay Dirks (3-1, 1.84 ERA, 29.1 IP, 6 BB, 36 SO)

UK – Sr. LHP Aaron Tennyson (3-1, 3.45 ERA, 28.2 IP, 5 BB, 17 SO)


Game 2

LSU – Jr. RHP Derik Olvey (4-0, 1.85 ERA, 34.0 IP, 5 BB, 23 SO)

UK – So. RHP Greg Dombrowski (4-0, 1.29 ERA, 28.0 IP, 0 BB, 14 SO)


Game 3

LSU – Jr. LHP Daniel Forrer (1-0, 4.55 ERA, 27.2 IP, 12 BB, 31 SO)

UK – Sr. LHP Craig Snipp (3-0, 1.24 ERA, 29.0 IP, 5 BB, 31 SO)


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