A tussle in the SEC West

After suffering damage to Alex Box Stadium in the early morning hours on Thursday morning, the LSU baseball team will be back in Southeastern Conference action tonight against Ole Miss. Of course, much of that depends on Mother Nature and the storms that are expected to roll through Baton Rouge on Friday afternoon.

Weather permitting, however, two of the Southeastern Conference's top teams will face off this weekend at Alex Box, beginning with Friday night's 7 p.m. opening pitch. Game 2 is set for 3 p.m. Saturday, followed by Sunday's 1 p.m. series finale.

The No. 2 Tigers and No. 11 Rebels are tied for second place in the SEC Western Division, both trailing Arkansas (6-0) by two full games.

LSU remains hot headed into the weekend, highlighted by winning seven of their last eight games, including four in a row.

The Rebels, on the contrary, have hit a rough patch. Ole Miss dropped both of its last two outings, the most devastating coming at the hands of Saint Louis in a 15-11 shootout last Tuesday.

"Ole Miss has an excellent ball club, and I think our guys will be ready for the challenges that they throw us," said head coach Paul Mainieri. "They have a tremendous pitching staff that features a lot of outstanding arms, so we'll have to be at our best to have a chance."

The Rebels, led by head coach Mike Bianco, will throw sophomore left-hander Drew Pomeranz (1-0, 3.44 ERA) on Friday, followed by junior right-hander Phillip Irwin (4-0, 1.82 ERA) and senior right-hander Scott Bittle (1-2, 5.06 ERA).

Mainieri said that sophomore right-hander Anthony Ranaudo (2-1, 2.01 ERA) will get the start on Friday, with hopes of senior Louis Coleman (5-1, 1.21 ERA) pitching on Saturday followed by sophomore Austin Ross (3-2, 2.86 ERA) on Sunday.

The rotation will stay set if freshman Matty Ott can hold his own from the closer spot, which he moved into when Coleman was asked to step back into the weekend rotation.

Ott, a freshman right-hander from Metairie, La., picked up a win and two saves in four appearances last week, allowing only one hit in 6.1 shutout innings. He didn’t walk a batter while recording 10 strikeouts and holding opponents to a .050 batting average.

"I can’t say I am surprised," Mainieri said. "I loved him from the first time I ever saw him. He throws strikes, he has good enough stuff and his poise and composure really struck me. When you add those together, you see that Matty has what it takes."

LSU enters Friday’s game batting .314 as a team with 43 home runs and 52 stolen bases, which puts the Tigers
fourth in the conference in batting average, third in homers and first in steals.


Leading the way for the Tigers at the plates is the SEC’s leading hitter, Sean Ochinko. The junior first baseman/catcher is hitting .434 (36 for 83) with seven doubles and six homers, and his 31 RBI ranks fifth in the league.


DJ LeMahieu isn’t far behind with a .380 average (30 for 79), while Jared Mitchell is at .368 (21 for 57) with a league leading 20 steals.


The Rebels fare a little better at the plate with a .319 batting average that is third in the SEC, but have less than half of LSU's home runs with only 20 on the year.


Leading the Rebels at the dish is senior outfielder Logan Power, who is batting .405 (30-for-74) with seven doubles, three homers and 26 RBI.


Two other Rebels are also tough outs in fellow outfielders, Jordan Henry and Jeremy Travis. Henry starts in center and is hitting .377 (26-for-69) on the year with five doubles, one triple and 14 RBI, and Travis is batting .354 (17-for-48) with two doubles, one triple, five homers and 17 RBI.

While a number of Tiger hitters might have hit slumps early in the season, it is the pitching staff that ranks third in the SEC with a 3.37 team ERA that continues to keep Mainieri up at night.

"I am not confident in our middle relief," he said. "If Coleman is needed Friday night, I have got to use him. If I do use him, then the rotation is not set. If I don't use him, it is set.

"We need to develop someone, whether it is Daniel Bradshaw or Nolan Cain, in that middle relief."

Bianco has had more problems than Mainieri when it comes to pitching as the Rebels’ staff is ninth in the SEC with a 4.90 ERA. That earned run average may be a little high for Bianco’s standards, but Mainieri expects the Rebels to be on their game this weekend.


Of course, weather permitting.



#11 Ole Miss (15-6, 4-2) at #2 LSU (19-5, 4-2)



Friday, March 27 – 7 p.m. CT; Saturday, March 28 – 3 p.m. CT; Sunday, March 29 – 1 p.m. CT



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



LSU - No. 2 by Baseball America, No. 4 by Collegiate Baseball; No. 5 by USA Today/ESPN

Ole Miss – No. 11 by Baseball America, No. 14 by Collegiate Baseball, No. 16 by USA Today/ESPN



·         LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates

·         The Baton Rouge affiliate is WDGL 98.1 FM



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



Saturday’s game will be televised by Fox Sports South (Cable Ch. 38 in Baton Rouge)



LSU leads, 158-136



Game 1

LSU – So. RHP Anthony Ranaudo (2-1, 2.01 ERA, 31.1 IP, 9 BB, 51 SO)

UM – So. LHP Drew Pomeranz (1-0, 3.44 ERA, 18.1 IP, 11 BB, 19 SO)


Game 2

LSU – Sr. RHP Louis Coleman (5-1, 1.21 ERA, 29.2 IP, 6 BB, 40 SO) 

UM – Jr. RHP Phillip Irwin (4-0, 1.82 ERA, 29.2 IP, 5 BB, 20 SO)


Game 3

LSU – So. RHP Austin Ross (3-2, 2.86 ERA, 28.1 IP, 2 BB, 28 SO)

UM – Sr. RHP Scott Bittle (1-2, 5.06 ERA, 10.2 IP, 11 BB, 19 SO)

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