LSU's Alex Bregman
Photo by:Steve Franz, LSU Athletics Staff Photographer
Baseball Set for Showdown With South Carolina
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Published: April 25, 2013, 06:15 PM (CT)
by Bill Franques, Sr. Associate SID

BATON ROUGE, La. – Second-ranked LSU (38-4, 15-3 SEC) begins a three-game Southeastern Conference series at 7 p.m. Friday when the Tigers play host to No. 10 South Carolina (31-11, 11-7 SEC) in Alex Box Stadium.

Game 2 starts at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, and first pitch for Game 3 is 2 p.m. Sunday.

The games can be heard on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (98.1 FM in Baton Rouge), and the games on Friday and Sunday will also be broadcast on SiriusXM Channel 91.

Live video, audio and stats of Friday and Saturday’s game may be accessed in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net, and live audio and stats are available on Sunday. Live video on Sunday may be accessed at WatchESPN.com.

The games on Friday and Saturday will be televised by Cox Sports Television, and Sunday’s game will be televised by ESPN.

LSU’s 38-4 mark is the best 42-game record in the history of the Fighting Tiger program. LSU has won 20 of its last 22 games and holds a four-game lead over Arkansas in the SEC Western Division.

The Tigers are one game behind Vanderbilt in the overall SEC standings. LSU’s 15-3 league mark is the school’s best through 18 conference games since the 1986 club was also 15-3.

LSU and South Carolina have combined to win three of the last four College World Series titles. LSU won the CWS in 2009, and South Carolina captured national championships in 2010 and 2011.

“Our program has a lot of similarities to South Carolina’s, and we enjoy the challenge of competing against them ” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “They have a very talented group of ball players that play the game the right way, and they’re always well prepared. We’re looking forward to a tremendous weekend in Alex Box Stadium with a meeting of two Top 10 programs.”

Mainieri said sophomore right-hander Aaron Nola will start on the mound Friday for the Tigers, followed by junior right-hander Ryan Eades on Saturday. LSU’s starter on Sunday has yet to be determined.

South Carolina first-year coach Chad Holbrook will counter with senior left-hander Nolan Belcher on Friday and sophomore left-hander Jordan Montgomery on Saturday. The Gamecocks’ Sunday starter has yet to be determined.

Nola was named SEC Co-Pitcher of the Week after defeating Alabama last Friday. Nola, a Baton Rouge native, fired his second consecutive complete game and his first career shutout when he blanked  the Tide, 5-0, in Tuscaloosa. Nola limited the Tide to just three singles while recording one walk and 10 strikeouts. He threw 110 pitches, and after allowing a leadoff single in the sixth inning, he retired the final 12 Alabama batters of the game.

The shutout was LSU’s first in an SEC game since Kevin Gausman blanked Tennessee on May 13, 2011. Nola also became the  first LSU pitcher to record back-to-back complete games since Gausman defeated Vanderbilt and South Carolina over the final two weekends of the 2012 regular season.

Nola leads the SEC in strikeouts this season with 82, and he is 7-0 on the year with a 2.15 ERA. He is No. 4 in the league in wins, No. 4 in innings pitched (71) and No. 4 in opponent batting average (.193).

LSU is third in the SEC with a 2.45 team ERA, while South Carolina is sixth in the league at 3.12.

LSU freshman shortstop Alex Bregman leads the Tigers at the plate, batting .412 with 11 doubles, seven triples, five homers and 41 RBI. He leads the SEC in batting average, hits (73), runs scored (46), total bases (113) and triples.

LSU senior first baseman Mason Katz is hitting .390, and he leads the SEC in home runs (13) and RBI (60). Katz is No. 2 in the league in total bases with 112, one behind Bregman.

LSU junior third baseman Christian Ibarra is batting .353 with 11 doubles, four homers 29 RBI, and senior leftfielder Raph Rhymes is hitting .338 with eight doubles, one triple, two homers and 34 RBI.

South Carolina is led at the plate by senior infielder LB Dantzler, who is batting .340 with 12 doubles, one triple, 12 homers and 42 RBI. Sophomore infielder Connor Bright is hitting .331 with seven doubles, one triple, four homers and 15 RBI, while sophomore infielder Joey Pankake is batting .314 with five doubles, eight homers and 30 RBI.

LSU is No. 2 in the league with a .305 team batting average, while South Carolina is fourth at .291. The Gamecocks lead the SEC with 39 homers, and LSU is second with 33.

LSU leads the overall series with South Carolina, 31-22-1. LSU has won nine of its last 11 games with South Carolina, including a three-game sweep in Baton Rouge in 2008, a first-round win in the 2008 SEC Tournament, a 2-1 series victory in Columbia in 2009, a third-round 2009 SEC Tournament victory and a 2-1 series victory in Columbia last season. The series win last season came on the final weekend of the regular season and clinched the 2012 SEC championship for the Tigers.

This weekend’s series marks South Carolina’s first-ever appearance in the New Alex Box Stadium; the Gamecocks last played in Baton Rouge in 2008 in the Original Alex Box Stadium.

#10 South Carolina Gamecocks (31-11, 11-7 SEC) at #2 LSU Fighting Tigers (38-4, 15-3 SEC)

DATES/TIMES
Friday, April 26 – 7 p.m. CT
Saturday, April 27 – 6:30 p.m. CT
Sunday, April 28 – 2 p.m. CT

STADIUM
Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. (10,326)

RANKINGS
LSU – No. 2 by Collegiate Baseball; No. 2 by USA Today; No. 2 by Baseball America
USC – No. 10 by USA Today; No. 15 by Collegiate Baseball; No. 15 by Baseball America

RADIO
LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates; Baton Rouge affiliate is WDGL 98.1 FM; Pregame show starts 30 minutes prior to first pitch
The games on Friday and Sunday will also be broadcast on SiriusXM Channel 91

TV
Friday - Cox Sports Television
Saturday – Cox Sports Television
Sunday - ESPN

INTERNET
www.LSUsports.net – live video, audio and stats on Friday and Saturday; live audio and stats on Sunday
WatchESPN.com – live video on Sunday 

SERIES RECORD
LSU leads the overall series with South Carolina, 31-22-1. LSU has won nine of its last 11 games with South Carolina, including a three-game sweep in Baton Rouge in 2008, a first-round win in the 2008 SEC Tournament, a 2-1 series victory in Columbia in 2009, a third-round 2009 SEC Tournament victory and a 2-1 series victory in Columbia last season. The series win last season came on the final weekend of the regular season and clinched the 2012 SEC championship for the Tigers. This weekend’s series marks South Carolina’s first-ever appearance in the New Alex Box Stadium; the Gamecocks last played in Baton Rouge in 2008 in the Original Alex Box Stadium.

PITCHING MATCHUPS
Game 1
LSU – So. RHP Aaron Nola (7-0, 2.15 ERA, 71.0 IP, 12 BB, 82 SO)
USC – Sr. LHP Nolan Belcher (6-3, 1.70 ERA, 74.0 IP, 5 BB, 61 SO)

Game 2
LSU – Jr. RHP Ryan Eades (7-1, 2.56 ERA, 63.1 IP, 16 BB, 59 SO)
USC – So. LHP Jordan Montgomery (3-0, 1.14 ERA, 31.2 IP, 10 BB, 30 SO)

Game 3
LSU – TBA
USC – TBA

 

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