LSU has won six of its last seven games, including an 8-4 win over No. 29 Southern Miss Wednesday night in Hattiesburg. The Tigers are in a third-place tie with Alabama in the SEC Western Division, two games behind first-place Ole Miss.
“A very wise person once told me that great challenges provide great opportunities,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri, “and we certainly have a great challenge this weekend against Ole Miss. They have a very talented ball club with a pitching staff that might take up half of the first round (of the MLB Draft) one day.
“It’s going to be a great experience for our ball club to play Ole Miss in front of a huge crowd. It’s a challenge we embrace and eagerly anticipate.”
Mainieri said junior right-hander Jordan Brown (3-0, 4.91 ERA) will start Friday’s game on the mound for LSU. Brown had a solid outing last Saturday versus Alabama, limiting the Tide to three earned runs on seven hits in six innings with two walks and seven strikeouts.
Junior left-hander Blake Martin (1-1, 3.96 ERA) will start Game 2 of the series, and Mainieri said he would announce the Tigers’ Sunday starting pitcher after Saturday’s game.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco, a former LSU catcher and assistant coach, will counter this weekend with right-hander Lance Lynn (4-0, 3.63ERA) on Friday, left-hander Drew Pomeranz (2-1, 2.10 ERA) on Saturday and right-hander Cody Satterwhite (3-1, 4.38 ERA) on Sunday.
LSU second baseman Ryan Schimpf launched a grand slam to highlight a six-run LSU fourth inning Wednesday night as the Tigers defeated Southern Mississippi, 8-4, in Pete Taylor Park. The game was played before a stadium-record crowd of 5,658 fans.
Rightfielder Derek Helenihi had two hits and two RBI at USM, and shortstop DJ LeMahieu contributed three hits and an RBI to pace the Tigers’ 15-hit attack.
Helenihi leads LSU with a .375 average, and he has collected eight doubles, three triples, one homer and 18 RBI. First baseman Matt Clark is hitting .343 with five doubles and a team-best 13 homers.
Designated hitter Blake Dean is batting .311 with five doubles, two triples, seven homers and a team-high 29 RBI.
LSU is hitting .301 as a team with 39 home runs on the year. The Tigers’ pitching staff has a 3.96 ERA with 251 strikeouts and 95 walks in 284.1 innings.
Ole Miss is led at the plate by junior infielder Cody Overbeck, who is hitting .366 with 12 doubles, eight homers and 28 RBI. Freshman outfielder Matt Smith is batting .362 with seven doubles, one triple, eight homers and 23 RBI.
Junior outfielder Michael Guerrero is hitting .322 for the Rebels with nine doubles, four homers and a team-high 30 RBI.
Ole Miss is hitting .310 as a team with 36 homers. The Rebels’ pitching staff has a 3.39 ERA and has recorded 315 strikeouts and 110 walks in 297 innings.
LSU has captured seven of its last nine regular-season series with Ole Miss, and the Tigers have a 15-10 record against the Rebels this decade. LSU won two of three games over Ole Miss last season in Baton Rouge after the Rebels swept three games from the Tigers in 2006 in Oxford.