A tougher test

Top-ranked LSU (9-0) plays its final non-conference series of the season this weekend as the Tigers play host to Illinois (5-1) in Alex Box Stadium.

LSU has a 9-0 record for the first time since the 1997 Tigers began the season with 19 straight victories.

 

LSU has two wins this week, a 19-3 victory at New Orleans on Tuesday and a 10-4 triumph over Mississippi Valley State on Wednesday. The Tigers have won 25 consecutive regular-season games, dating back to last season.

 

Illinois is 5-1 after sweeping three games last weekend at the Al Ogletree Classic in Edinburg, Texas. The Illini posted wins over Texas-Pan American (8-0), Stephen F. Austin (4-2) and Texas-Arlington (3-2).

 

“Illinois will probably be the best team we’ve played so far this season,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “They are a very hard-nosed club that features a lot of pesky hitters that are very tough outs. They don’t hit with a lot of power, but they can generate offense in a variety of ways.”

 

Mainieri said sophomore right-hander Anthony Ranaudo (2-0, 1.59 ERA) will start Friday’s game on the mound for LSU. Sophomore right-hander Daniel Bradshaw (0-0, 1.35 ERA) will be the Tigers’ starter on Saturday, and sophomore right-hander Austin Ross (2-0, 0.75 ERA is LSU’s Game 3 starter on Sunday.

 

Illinois coach Dan Hartleb will counter with sophomore left-hander Phil Haig (2-0, 0.00 ERA) on Friday, senior right-hander Aaron Martin (1-0, 0.00 ERA) on Saturday and senior right-hander Ben Reeser (1-0, 2.53 ERA) on Sunday.

 

LSU enters Friday’s game batting .367 (120-for-327) as a team with 18 home runs and 30 stolen bases in 35 attempts. The Tigers are No. 2 in the SEC in homers (Auburn leads with 20 HR) and LSU leads the league in stolen bases.

 

Junior first baseman/catcher Sean Ochinko has paced the Tigers’ offense over the past five games by hitting .737 (14-for-19) with two doubles, two homers, 20 RBI and seven runs. Ochinko hit grand slams in consecutive games this week in the Tigers’ wins over New Orleans and Mississippi Valley State.

 

LSU sophomore shortstop DJ LeMahieu enters the weekend as the leading hitting in the SEC, batting .607 (17-for-28) on the year with two doubles, three triples, two homers, 12 RBI and 16 runs.

 

LeMahieu is riding a 25-game hitting streak that dates back to last season. He has at least one hit in all nine games this season after ending 2008 on a 16-game streak.

 

Illinois is led by freshman shortstop Josh Parr, who is batting .476 (10-for-21) with one double, one triple, seven RBI and four runs. Sophomore outfielder Pete Cappetta is batting .381 (8-for-21) on the year with one double, four RBI and five runs.

 

The Illini are hitting .279 (57-for-204) as a team with two homers and 11 steals in 16 attempts.

 

LSU leads the overall series with Illinois, 13-7-2, and Friday’s game marks the first meeting between the teams since 1977.

 

Mainieri has a 5-1 career coaching record against the Illini.

 

 

Illinois (5-1) at #1 LSU (9-0)

 

DATES/TIMES 

Friday, March 6 – 7 p.m. CT

Saturday, March 7 – 2 p.m. CT

Sunday, March 8 – 11 a.m. CT

 

STADIUM

Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. (9,200)

 

RANKINGS

LSU - No. 1 by Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America, USA Today/ESPN and NCBWA

Illinois - unranked

  

RADIO

·         LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates

·         The Baton Rouge affiliate is WDGL 98.1 FM

 

INTERNET

www.LSUsports.net – live video, audio and stats

 

TV

None

 

SERIES RECORD

LSU leads, 10-7-2 (the teams last met in 1963)

 

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Game 1

LSU – So. RHP Anthony Ranaudo (2-0, 1.59 ERA, 11.1 IP, 3 BB, 17 SO)

UI – So. LHP Phil Haig (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 12 IP, 4 BB, 6 SO)

 

Game 2

LSU – So. RHP Daniel Bradshaw (0-0, 1.35 ERA, 6.2 IP, 2 BB, 8 SO)

UI – Sr. RHP Aaron Martin (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 12 IP, 4 BB, 8 SO)

 

Game 3

LSU – So. RHP Austin Ross (2-0, 0.75 ERA, 12 IP, 1 BB, 14 SO)

UI – Sr. RHP Ben Reeser (1-0, 2.53 ERA, 10.2 IP, 1 BB, 8 SO)


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