Battle of Tigers

LSU will put the nation's longest current winning streak on the line when the Tigers travel to the Plains to take on Auburn on Thursday for the final regular season SEC series.

The 16th ranked Tigers (36-16-1, 15-11-1 SEC) extended their winning streak to 13 games on Tuesday when Paul Mainieri’s young club defeated UNO 7-6 in a 15-inning marathon.


This time of the year, baseball coaches have to deal with the wear and tear that 60-plus games can have on a club.


Mainieri knows there is a lot riding on the upcoming series and he is also well aware of the grind his players have been through.


“We’re a little bit tired and banged up as we settled into out hotel but we obviously have a big weekend here at Auburn with an opportunity to win the SEC Western Division and to clinch a spot in the SEC Tournament,” said LSU’s skipper.


“We had to take a couple of guys out of the game last night because their bodies were breaking down with fatigue and we obviously extended some pitchers more than we wanted to last night so I’m sure it’s going to affect us to some degree.”


Thursday’s game against the Tigers from Auburn will be LSU’s fifth contest in the last seven days and that combined with the five hour outing on Tuesday will test Mainieri’s squad not only from a physical standpoint, but mentally as well.


“It’s a challenge but every body is in the same boat around the country,” Mainieri said. “The games are more compacted this year and fortunately school is out so the kids can concentrate only on baseball.


“We spent a lot last night, we really did. We thought it was a big ballgame and obviously UNO did too. You just hope that the kids have something left in their tanks. We know what is at stake this weekend at Auburn and I think that by tomorrow night at 6 o’clock everybody is going to be ready to go.” 


LSU enters the Auburn series tied for seventh in the SEC in hitting with a .300 clip and several players have been ripping the cover off the ball of late led by Derek Helenihi (.332), Blake Dean (.330), Micah Gibbs (.328), DJ LeMahieu (.325), and Matt Clark (.320).


The Tigers are also getting some strong outings on the mound and the Team ERA is ranked third in the conference at 3.90.


While LSU is averaging close to nine runs a game over the last 14 contests, it is the work on the hill that has grabbed the attention of Auburn Head Coach Tom Slater.


“I think they have been swinging the bat well but what has really elevated them has been their pitching,” said Auburn head coach Tom Slater. “They have had some guys give (Jared) Bradford a lot of help and have really pitched well.”


Auburn (28-25, 11-16 SEC) enters the weekend in need of a sweep if it hopes to have any chance of playing past this weekend but the Tigers have played much better than their record would indicate.


Auburn may be only 6-13 in its last 19 games, including 2-7 at home, but the Tigers have dropped six decisions over that span by one run.


If a few of those games had gone the other way then this series could have easily had much higher stakes for the Plainsmen.


“Obviously, Auburn’s record is not what they wished it would be and I think they’ve lost seven or eight games in the SEC by one run so they are right there,” Mainieri said. “Their ability is right there to give them the chance to win. They have great talent. They have just come up short in those games.”


Auburn comes into the series batting .304, which puts them at fifth in the conference, while the pitching staff is ranked eighth with a 4.70 ERA.


The Tigers are capable of putting up a lot of runs, which was evident in their 18-6 win over Mercer earlier this week where they blasted three homers and scored 11 runs in the fourth inning alone.


Some may look at this series and say that LSU is clearly the better ballclub but Mainieri has a different outlook.


“They have one of the leading hitters in the Southeastern Conference in Hunter Morris and a left-handed, Friday night pitcher (Grant Dayton) that is 7-1 with 72 strikeouts and is one of the best pitchers in the league,” said Mainieri. “They have one of the best closers in the league (Bryan Woodall) too so we’re going to have a tremendous challenge this weekend at Auburn. I don’t care what their record is.”



Thursday, May 15 – 6 p. m. CT; Friday, May 16 – 6 p.m. CT; Saturday, May 17 – 2 p.m. CT



Plainsman Park in Auburn, Ala.



LSU is ranked No. 16 by Baseball America, No. 16 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 21 by USA Today/ESPN



  • LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates
  • The Baton Rouge affiliate is WDGL 98.1 FM


INTERNET – live audio and stats



·         Thursday – Cox Sports Television (Cable Ch. 37 in Baton Rouge)

·         Friday – Cox Sports Television (Cable Ch. 37 in Baton Rouge)

·         Saturday – none



LSU leads the series, 79-64 (the teams first met in 1907)



Game 1

LSU – Jr. LHP Ryan Verdugo (7-2, 3.44 ERA, 70.2 IP, 24 BB, 59 SO)

AU – Fr. LHP Grant Dayton (7-1, 3.65 ERA, 74.0 IP, 13 BB, 72 SO)


Game 2

LSU – Jr. LHP Blake Martin (4-3, 4.80 ERA, 69.1 IP, 29 BB, 70 SO)

AU – So. RHP Taylor Thompson (3-5, 5.71 ERA, 58.1 IP, 18 BB, 47 SO)


Game 3


AU – Jr. RHP Luke Greinke (4-4, 4.47 ERA, 50.1 IP, 14 BB, 38 SO)


Series Notes


  • The Tigers took a bus straight to Auburn following the win over UNO and pulled into the team Hotel in Opelika around 7 a.m. on Wednesday.


  • LSU Head Coach Paul Mainieri canceled a Wednesday afternoon weightlifting session to let his players rest but will put them through a light practice later that evening.


  • LSU enters the Auburn series 1.5 games ahead of Alabama and Ole Miss for the SEC Western Division title. Alabama travels to Georgia and Ole Miss hosts Kentucky to end the regular season.


  • LSU’s 13-game win streak is the Tigers’ longest since the 2000 club won 13 in a row to complete its national championship season. The Tigers’ nine-game SEC win streak is LSU’s longest in one season since the 1991 team captured its first 11 league games.


  • LSU has seen its team batting average rise from .293 to .300 during its win streak. The Tigers are hitting .320 (159-for-497) as a team in their last 13 games with 33 doubles, three triples and 23 homers while outscoring their opponents, 118-59.


  • Sophomore leftfielder Jared Mitchell is batting .415 (17-for-41) during the win streak with two doubles, one triple, four homers, 11 RBI, 14 runs and four stolen bases.


  • Sophomore designated hitter/outfielder Blake Dean is batting .396 (21-for-53) over the past 13 games with six doubles, four homers and 13 RBI.


  • Junior first baseman Matt Clark is batting .357 (15-for-42) during the streak with six doubles, five homers and 13 RBI.


  • Freshman shortstop DJ LeMahieu is batting .333 (18-for-54) during the 13-game stretch with three doubles, one homer and 11 RBI.


  • Daniel Bradshaw has pitched 19.1 innings during the 13-game winning streak and has allowed only one earned run for a .052 ERA.


  • Auburn is led at the plate by freshman first baseman Hunter Morris, who is batting .367 with 15 doubles, two triples, 11 homers and 49 RBI.


  • Sophomore infielder Joseph Sanders is hitting .351 with 18 doubles, five homers and 49 RBI, and junior outfielder Mike Bianucci is batting .321 with 18 doubles, two triples, 12 homers and 42 RBI.


  • LSU is 12-9 in the last seven series matchups with Auburn.


  • The last time the Tigers played at Auburn was under Smoke Laval and LSU left with a sweep.


  • LSU has posted four straight series victories at Plainsman Park (2000, 2002, 2004, 2006). Auburn’s last home series victory over LSU came in 1998.


  • Auburn leads the SEC in doubles with 129 and LSU is tops in the conference in triples with 22.


  • LSU is ranked fourth in the SEC with 69 homeruns and Auburn is ninth with 53.


  • Matt Clark is still ranked third in the league with 18 homeruns.



Note: LSU Sports Information Department contributed to this report.



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