Tigers ready for No. 15 Miss. State

LSU (21-17-1, 6-8-1 SEC) travels to Starkville, Miss., this weekend for a Southeastern Conference series versus the No. 15 Mississippi State Bulldogs (24-8, 8-5 SEC).

Game 1 of the LSU-MSU series is set for 6:30 p.m. CDT Friday, Game 2 will start at 2 p.m. CDT Saturday, and Game 3 begins at 1:30 p.m. CDT Sunday.


"We are looking forward to a trip to Starkville," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "For me this will be the first time I've been to Starkville since I was at Notre Dame in 2000, when we played in the NCAA Regional there. I'm really looking forward to going back to Starkville and renewing some old acquaintances.


"One thing I'm not looking forward to is facing the Bulldogs, because they are playing very well right now. Our team has made some important strides in recent games. We've got some tough games ahead of us, but the kids are feeling confident that we're improving. We're looking forward to playing in what I consider one of the great venues in college baseball."


Mississippi State in is second place in the SEC Western Division with an 8-5 mark, two games behind Arkansas (11-4). The Bulldogs posted a 4-3 win at Tennessee last Friday, but the remaining two games of the league series were canceled due to inclement weather.


LSU is in fifth place in the SEC West with a 6-8-1 record. The Tigers captured two of three games from Ole Miss last weekend in Alex Box Stadium.


Junior left-hander Charlie Furbush (3-4, 4.29 ERA) will start Friday's game on the mound for LSU. Furbush pitched effectively in last Friday's 4-3 LSU win over Ole Miss, scattering 10 hits over 6.1 innings while allowing three runs with one walk and two strikeouts.


Mississippi State coach Ron Polk will counter on Friday with sophomore right-hander Chad Crosswhite (4-1, 3.31 ERA), who will be making his third start of the season. Crosswhite is 3-0 in SEC play with a 3.86 ERA.


Sophomore left-hander Ryan Byrd (5-1, 3.65 ERA) will start Game 2 at Mississippi State after a brilliant outing last Saturday versus Ole Miss. Byrd fired LSU's first complete game of the season, limiting the Rebels to two runs on seven hits in nine innings with no walks and three strikeouts.


Byrd's win marked the first SEC complete-game victory for an LSU pitcher since Clay Dirks defeated Tennessee on May 14, 2005 in Alex Box Stadium.


LSU freshman designated hitter/outfielder Blake Dean was named Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week Monday by the league office in Birmingham, Ala. Dean, a native of Crestview, Fla., paced the Tigers in hitting last week, leading LSU to three wins in four games. Dean batted .529 (9-for-17) on the week with two doubles, one triple, one homer, four RBI and four runs.


Dean extended his hitting streak to 19 games with a ninth-inning homer in Wednesday's loss to UNO – he is hitting .397 (31-for-78) during the streak with six doubles, one triple, two homers, 12 RBI and 13 runs.


Freshman first baseman Sean Ochinko is hitting .421 (8-for-19) in the Tigers' last five games with two doubles and two RBI. Sophomore second baseman Nicholas Pontiff is also swinging at hot bat, hitting .400 (8-for-20) in the last five games with one double, four RBI and four runs.


LSU is batting .305 (53-for-174) as a team in its last five contests, averaging nearly 11 hits per outing.


Mississippi State leads the SEC this season with a robust .340 team batting average. The Bulldogs have collected 72 doubles, six triples and 28 homers, and they are averaging over eight runs per game.


MSU shortstop Brandon Turner is batting a team-high .431 (56-for-130) with 10 doubles, one triple, one homer and 33 RBI. Catcher Edward Easley is hitting .400 (52-for-130) with seven doubles and a team-best eight homers.


First baseman Mitch Moreland leads the Bulldogs with 13 doubles and 40 RBI, and he has contributed five homers.


Mississippi State leads the all-time series with LSU, 192-157-1, and the series is tied 12-12 in the 24 meetings this decade.


The Tigers have won eight of the last 13 meetings between the clubs, though Mississippi State posted a 2-1 series victory last season in Baton Rouge.


LSU has won three of its last four series in Starkville, capturing two of three games at Dudy Noble Field in 1999, 2001 and 2005. Neither team has recorded a sweep in the series since 1992, when LSU won all three games in Alex Box Stadium over the Bulldogs.





LSU Fighting Tigers (21-17-1, 6-8-1 SEC) at # 15 Mississippi State Bulldogs (24-8, 8-5 SEC)





Friday, April 20 – 6:30 p.m. CDT; Saturday, April 21 – 2 p.m. CDT; Sunday, April 22 – 1:30 p.m. CDT





Dudy Noble Field in Starkville, Miss.





Mississippi State is ranked No. 15 by Collegiate Baseball, No. 18 by USA Today/ESPN and No. 20 by Baseball America





Mississippi State leads, 192-157-1 (series began in 1905)





Game 1


LSU – Jr. LHP Charlie Furbush (3-4, 4.29 ERA, 56.2 IP, 23 BB, 59 SO)


MSU – So. RHP Chad Crosswhite (4-1, 3.31 ERA, 32.2 IP, 15 BB, 27 SO)



Game 2


LSU – So. LHP Ryan Byrd (5-1, 3.65 ERA, 44.1 IP, 8 BB, 28 SO)


MSU – Jr. LHP Justin Pigott (3-3, 5.50 ERA, 52.1 IP, 10 BB, 34 SO)



Game 3




MSU – Sr. RHP Josh Johnson (2-2, 7.02 ERA, 33.1 IP, 12 BB, 40 SO)




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