Photo by: LSUsports.net, LSU Athletics Publications
Baseball to Face Mississippi St. in SEC Tournament
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Published: May 21, 2012, 03:44 PM (CT)
Updated: May 22, 2012, 03:52 PM (CT)
by Bill Franques, Sr. Associate SID

UPDATE: On Tuesday, Kentucky defeated Ole Miss, 2-0, and Mississippi State beat Arkansas, 9-1. Therefore, LSU will face the Bulldogs approximately 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

BATON ROUGE -- Second-ranked LSU (42-14), the 2012 SEC champion, opens play in the conference tournament at approximately 12:30 CT on Wednesday at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala. The Tigers, the tournament's No. 1 seed, will play seventh-seeded Mississippi State.

If the Tigers beat the Bulldogs on Wednesday, LSU will play a second-round game at approximately 12:30 p.m. Thursday against Kentucky. If the Tigers lose on Wednesday, LSU will play in an elimination game at 9:30 a.m. Thursday against the winner of Ole Miss and Arkansas.

The LSU games will be carried by the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network, with Baton Rouge affiliate WDGL 98.1 FM serving as the flagship station. Live audio and stats of the games may be accessed in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live.

LSU's games on Wednesday and Thursday will be televised by Fox Sports Houston, Fox Sports Southwest and SportSouth. Live video is available at www.ESPN3.com, though blackouts may apply in SEC areas.

LSU claimed the 2012 SEC championship by winning two of three games at South Carolina last weekend. The conference crown was the second in the past four seasons under coach Paul Mainieri. LSU has won an SEC-best 15 overall conference championships in its history; Alabama is second with 13 SEC titles, Florida has 12 and Mississippi State has 10.

LSU also claimed the 2012 SEC Western Division title, the Tigers' third division crown in the past five seasons under Mainieri. LSU has won 16 Western Division titles in its history, including five in the past 10 seasons.

LSU has a league-best 63-35 (.643) all-time record in the SEC Tournament, and the Tigers own a conference-high nine tournament titles. Alabama is second behind LSU with seven tournament titles, and Mississippi State is third with six championships.

LSU has won three of the past four SEC Tournament crowns, claiming the title in 2008, 2009 and 2010 before falling short of a tournament bid in 2011. The Tigers are 13-1 in their past 14 SEC Tournament games; the only loss in that span came in LSU's 2009 tournament opener versus Vanderbilt.

"This time of the year, the postseason, is the most fun," Mainieri said. "Our players have worked extremely hard all year to get into this position, and now they have a chance to create a memorable season. The SEC Tournament is a tremendous event, one in which we've had great success in recent years. We're taking the approach that this is the third straight week we're playing for a championship - we clinched the division title two weeks ago and the SEC championship last week, now we have a chance at the tournament title."

LSU junior leftfielder Raph Rhymes, named 2012 SEC Player of the Year by SEBaseball.com, continues to lead the nation in batting average, hitting .469 (92-for-196) with 11 doubles, three homers and 49 RBI. Rhymes is hitting .594 (41-for-69) this season with runners in scoring position, and he's batting .458 in SEC games.

Junior rightfielder Mason Katz was named SEC Player of the Week Monday after leading LSU to three wins in four games last week, including a 2-1 series victory at No. 1 South Carolina that secured the 2012 SEC championship for the Tigers. Katz hit .368 (7-for-19) in four games with one double, two homers, seven RBI and five runs.

He collected two RBI in the SEC title-clinching win on Saturday, driving in what proved to be the deciding run in the top of the 10th inning in the 3-2 victory over the Gamecocks. Katz' two-out RBI single in the top of the 10th gave the Tigers a 3-1 lead and was the difference in the game after South Carolina scored one run in the bottom of the 10th. Katz also launched a solo homer against South Carolina ace Michael Roth in the series opener on Friday, helping the Tigers to a 5-2 win.

LSU's series victory at South Carolina was sparked by sophomore right-hander Kevin Gausman, who delivered a brilliant performance in defeating the Gamecocks on Friday. Gausman fired his second consecutive complete game, limiting the Gamecocks to two runs on five hits in nine innings with two walks and six strikeouts

Gausman, the SEC strikeouts leader with 118 Ks, is 9-1 this season with a 2.86 ERA in 100.2 innings.

Junior left-hander Chris Cotton was masterful in relief in the South Carolina series, making two appearances and limiting the Gamecocks to no runs on no hits in four innings with one walk and six strikeouts. Cotton was the winning pitcher in Saturday's 3-2 victory that clinched the SEC title - he worked three scoreless innings with no hits, one walk and four strikeouts.

Cotton is 6-0 on the year with a 1.34 ERA in 33.2 innings, and he's recorded five walks, 30 strikeouts and a .176 opponent batting average.

Senior third baseman Tyler Hanover has 265 career hits and needs four more to move into the Top 10 in LSU annals. Hanover became LSU's all-time leader in sacrifice bunts (34) last week when he executed two sacrifices against the Gamecocks.

Senior shortstop Austin Nola, named Monday to the 2012 SEC Community Service Team, has 48 career doubles and needs two more to move into the Top 10 of the LSU all-time doubles list.

#1 seed LSU Fighting Tigers (42-14, 19-11 SEC - 2012 SEC Champions)

2012 SEC Tournament

DATES/TIMES
Wednesday, May 23 - 12:30 p.m. CT (time approximate) vs. #7 seed Mississippi State
Thursday, May 24 - 9:30 a.m. CT (if LSU loses on Wednesday) or 12:30 p.m. CT (if LSU wins on Wednesday; time approximate)
(remainder of schedule to be determined by LSU game results)

STADIUM
Regions Park in Hoover, Ala.

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

RADIO
LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates
The Baton Rouge affiliate is WDGL 98.1 FM
Pregame show starts 15 minutes prior to first pitch

INTERNET
www.LSUsports.net - live audio and stats
www.ESPN3.com - live video (blackout may apply in SEC areas)

TV
Wednesday - Fox Sports Houston/Fox Sports Southwest/SportSouth
Thursday - Fox Sports Houston/Fox Sports Southwest/SportSouth
(Remainder of TV Schedule to be Determined by LSU Game Results)

LSU IN THE SEC TOURNAMENT
LSU has a league-best 63-35 (.643) all-time record in the SEC Tournament, and the Tigers own a conference-high nine tournament titles. Alabama is second behind LSU with seven tournament titles, and Mississippi State is third with six championships. LSU has won three of the past four SEC Tournament crowns, claiming the title in 2008, 2009 and 2010 before falling short of a tournament bid in 2011. The Tigers are 13-1 in their past 14 SEC Tournament games; the only loss in that span came in LSU's 2009 tournament opener versus Vanderbilt.

 

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