LSU has won three straight games, including victories this week over Northwestern State (2-1) and McNeese State (6-3). The Tigers opened SEC play last weekend by winning two of three games over Kentucky in Alex Box Stadium.
South Carolina has also won three in a row, including a pair of shutout victories this week over Davidson (6-0) and Furman (15-0). The Gamecocks lost two of three games at Mississippi State last weekend in their opening conference series.
“South Carolina is a very talented ball club, and we’re looking forward to playing them in their new ball park,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “(South Carolina coach) Ray Tanner has done a phenomenal job with their program, and they are always a contender for the College World Series. We understand all three games are sold out, and our players are excited about playing in a great environment on the road.”
Mainieri said sophomore right-hander Anthony Ranaudo (2-0, 1.85 ERA) will start Friday’s game on the mound for LSU, and the remainder of the weekend rotation has yet to be determined.
Ranaudo enjoyed an excellent outing last Friday versus Kentucky though he was not involved in the decision of a 5-3 LSU win. Ranaudo fired a career-high 13 strikeouts in six innings while limiting the Wildcats to six hits and three runs.
LSU enters Friday’s game batting .323 as a team with 34 home runs. The Tigers lead the SEC in stolen bases with 47 steals in 67 attempts.
Junior first baseman/catcher Sean Ochinko leads LSU with a .464 batting average, six doubles, six homers and 27 RBI. Junior leftfielder Jared Mitchell is hitting .425 with three doubles, one triple, three homers and 16 RBI, while sophomore shortstop DJ LeMahieu is batting .424 with two doubles, three triples, two homers and 12 RBI.
South Carolina is batting .316 this season with 31 homers and 17 stolen bases. Junior infielder Nick Ebert is hitting .513 for the Gamecocks with four doubles, seven homers and 18 RBI. Junior outfielder DeAngelo Mack is batting .359 with two doubles, one triple, eight homers and 22 RBI.
Mainieri said he hopes to see the LSU hitters take a more aggressive approach at the plate this weekend.
“I’d love to see us go out and swing the way I think is more up to our capability,” Mainieri said. “I think we need to show a little more of a sense of urgency. We need to go up there and bear down and be a little more aggressive.”
LSU leads the overall series with South Carolina, 26-20-1, and the Tigers won all four meetings between the teams last season. LSU swept a three-game series in Baton Rouge and posted a 5-4, 10-inning win over the Gamecocks in an SEC Tournament first-round game.
LSU lost two of three games to South Carolina in its last visit to Columbia in 2007.
#5 LSU (15-4, 2-1) at #27 South Carolina (13-4, 1-2)
Friday, March 20 – 6 p.m. CT; Saturday, March 21 – 3 p.m. CT; Sunday, March 22 – 12:30 p.m. CT
Carolina Stadium in Columbia, S.C.
LSU - No. 5 Baseball America, No. 5 USA Today/ESPN, No. 6 Collegiate Baseball
South Carolina – No. 27 by Collegiate Baseball
· LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates
· The Baton Rouge affiliate is WDGL 98.1 FM
Sunday’s game will be televised by SportSouth and can be seen in Louisiana on Fox Sports Southwest and Fox Sports Houston (Cable Ch. 38 in Baton Rouge)
LSU leads, 26-20-1
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
LSU – So. RHP Anthony Ranaudo (2-0, 1.85 ERA, 24.1 IP, 7 BB, 42 SO)
USC – So. RHP Sam Dyson (2-1, 3.18 ERA, 22.2 IP, 7 BB, 23 SO)
LSU – So. RHP Austin Ross (2-2, 2.74 ERA, 23 IP, 1 BB, 25 SO)
USC – Fr. LHP Adam Westmoreland (2-0, 3.38 ERA, 16 IP, 14 BB, 19 SO)
LSU – Fr. LHP Chris Matulis (3-0, 2.49 ERA, 21.2 IP, 8 BB, 19 SO)
USC – Fr. LH Nolan Belcher (0-1, 7.43 ERA, 13.1 IP, 11 BB, 14 SO)