BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU (43-16-1) will open the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional at 1 p.m. Friday when the Tigers face Texas Southern (16-32) in Alex Box Stadium.
LSU, which has won 20 straight games, is the No. 1 seed in the Baton Rouge Regional while Texas Southern, champions of the SWAC Tournament, is the No. 4 seed.
The second game of the regional will feature No. 2 seed Southern Mississippi versus No. 3 seed New Orleans at 6 p.m. Friday in Alex Box Stadium. The regional continues with games on Saturday and Sunday, with an “if necessary” game on Monday.
“We’re very excited to be back at Alex Box Stadium for a regional,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri, who directed the Tigers last weekend to the SEC Tournament title. “I’m extremely proud of what our team has accomplished so far, but we still have a lot of work to do. The NCAA Tournament separates the men from the boys, so we know we have a great challenge in front of us.”
The Baton Rouge Regional champion will face the Lincoln Regional champion in an NCAA Super Regional series. LSU, which is the No. 7 national seed in the NCAA Tournament, would play host to the Super Regional if the Tigers win the Baton Rouge Regional.
LSU is playing host to a regional for the 18th time, and for the first time since 2005.
Tickets for the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional are on sale now to LSU baseball season ticket holders and to LSU students.
Regional tickets will remain on sale to season ticket holders and students until 5 p.m. on Tuesday . Regional ticket booklets are $75 (gold seats), $65 (grandstand seats) and $50 (bleacher seats).
Season ticket holders may place their orders at www.LSUsports.net, or by phone at 225-578-2184 or 800-960-8587. Orders may also be placed in person at the LSU ticket office. The ticket office is located on the first floor of the LSU athletic administration building.
LSU students may reserve ticket booklets by logging into their online accounts at www.LSUsports.net. The deadline for students to request tickets is 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Regional tickets not purchased by season ticket holders or LSU students by 5 p.m. Tuesday will go on sale to the general public at 8 a.m. Thursday.
Should any individual-session tickets be available, they will go on sale at 8 a.m. Friday.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri and his players met with the media Monday afternoon after the 64-team field for the NCAA Baseball Tournament was announced on ESPN. LSU opens the Baton Rouge Regional at 1 p.m. Friday versus Texas Southern:
LSU coach Paul Mainieri
On what it means to “bring back” the baseball program...
“I don’t think we are all the way back yet. I think we have accomplished some things and I’m very proud. The goal is to get to Omaha and to win when we get there. No matter what happens the rest of this season, I don’t think it will take away the accomplishments that this team has had this year.
“I do feel like it is back with the quality of the kids that we have in this program.These kids love LSU and LSU baseball. They play for the name on the front of their jersey and not the one on the back.”
“I’ve told Skip [Bertman] I don’t know how many times, ‘Skip, I just want to make you proud.’ I hope that I’ve done that. If everyone that follows the LSU program is proud of the way the kids conduct themselves and the way they play the game, then I feel like we are well on our way to getting the job done.”
On how difficult it was to put together the right combination for this team...
“It’s not that difficult. It just takes time. I knew when (associate head coach) Terry Rooney recruited this class that we were going to be a lot better. All throughout the fall practice, they had a great attitude and I could see the talent. I felt like it was going to be very important to get the pieces of the puzzle to fit together in the right way to find the right position for everyone. Then, it took about 20 to 30 games. We had success in those games. We beat Indiana twice the opening weekend, but stumbled on Sunday.
“It takes time in those 20 to 30 games to find the right pieces of the puzzle. Then, the kids continuously have to embrace their role. I think now, every kid on this team understands his role, knows what is expected of him and doesn’t want to let his teammates down.”
On the announcement of UNO, Southern Miss and Texas Southern in the Baton Rouge regional...
“First of all, I am very proud of UNO. I am an alumnus of UNO. I played there for two years and I think Tom Walter has done a spectacular job with that program. UNO is very lucky to have him as a coach. He is a tremendous coach and his staff is outstanding. Their players play the game the right way. They play hard and are aggressive and confident. We had three tremendous ball games with them this year. All three games were decided in the last at-bat. There is no question that we have the utmost respect for them. They are going to be a tremendous challenge.”
“Southern Mississippi’s team is phenomenal. We played there earlier this year. With 5,000 people at the game, it was a tremendous atmosphere. It was a great ball game from our standpoint because we took control of the game early, and then held them off at the end. I’m sure Southern Miss is going to come in here and let it rip. They are going to be a tough team.”
“I don’t know as much about Texas Southern right now, but obviously, I’m going to get in there and study them as hard as I can.”
“I think it is going to be a great regional. I’m excited about UNO being here. I love UNO, their program and the way Tom [Walter] has done his job there. They are going to be a great challenge, but we don’t play them first. We don’t even know if we will play them, so right now, our attention is focused on Texas Southern.”
SENIOR 3B MICHAEL HOLLANDER
On how it feels to finish his LSU career by hosting a regional ...
“It has been a great four years, and I couldn’t ask for anything like this. There are a couple things left to do and a few more goals out there, but with the way this team is playing it has been a great experience.”
On how the team stays hungry for wins ...
“The biggest thing about our team is that we take it one pitch at a time, and we just focus on the next pitch, next at-bat and the next game. We do a great job of forgetting what we did yesterday and just focusing on what we are doing today. I think that’s a great thing for a team to have – short-term memory. We don’t even think about the (20-game win) streak. We just think about the next game and the next pitch.”
On what it means to have experience in a regional ...
“Experience means a lot in baseball, but I think all of our players will play like they have been to Omaha before. They all play with poise. It could be a freshman up there who gets the game-winning hit, or it could be a junior or senior. But it doesn’t really matter who we can count on because we are truly a team, and everybody gets the job done, no matter their class or experience.”
On winning the inaugural Wally Pontiff Jr. Scholar-Athlete Award ...
“I would rather get that than the Golden Spikes Award. It’s such an honor. I’m so close to the Pontiff family. Growing up I always looked up to Wally, and Nick (current LSU player Nicholas Pontiff) and I were always friends. So I looked up to Wally like someone would look up to an older brother. To receive something like this is a great honor, and the Pontiff family is such a great family.”
SENIOR RHP JARED BRADFORD
On if there is a feeling that the program is back to where it used to be ...
“I’m not from Louisiana, so I wasn’t here for the past national championships or even the regionals or super regionals. In fact, the first game I ever came to was when I played in it. It’s been an honor for me to be able to learn the history and what has taken place in the past and bring us to where we are now. I think it is getting back to that place. In talking to other people, I understand the significance of baseball in this state, especially in Baton Rouge.”
On how much pressure there has been on the team to keep winning ...
“There is always pressure. Any time you play a sport there is always pressure, but at the same time you still play the game the same way. I don’t think there is any added pressure. We just have fun with it, honestly. We really do. You could be in the ninth inning in a tie ballgame and you’re pitching, and that’s pressure. But at the same time, there is the same kind of pressure anywhere else. I think we just play the same game of baseball anywhere it is, and hopefully we come out on top. The fan support here is like nowhere else, so that takes care of itself.”
On receiving the inaugural Skip Bertman Award (for inspirational leadership) ...
“It’s an honor. It’s something I never thought I would be able to have, and I feel really fortunate to be able to come here and play baseball the past two years. I have done things individually that I thought I would never be able to do, but as a team I think we have made a lot of improvements from last year. I think a lot of guys deserve the award because of the significance of courage and leadership, and we have so many guys who are really good and have those qualities within them. It’s an honor for me to be able to be a part of this program. The award is awesome, but at the same time everybody else is the same way and they show the same kind of courage. But I definitely feel honored.”
On how it feels to be the go-to-guy on the mound for this team ...
“It’s good to be counted on. If it’s a tie ballgame in the ninth inning, it’s good to be that go-to-guy that they trust to take care of things for them. At the same time, it’s something that the coaches taught us. They instilled in us from day one in the fall meetings how it is going to be. With each individual player it’s the same way. They instill those things in us whether it be throwing a bullpen when it’s sleeting outside. You don’t want to do it, but you still do it because it is going to teach you how to play in that environment if you have to.”
NCAA Baseball Championship
May 30 - June 2, 2008
The 16 regional sites, with host institutions and records are as follows:
Coral Gables, Fla. Regional (ESPNU)
#1 Miami (Fla.) (47-8) vs. Bethune Cookman
Ole Miss vs. Missouri
Ann Arbor, Mich. Regional
Michigan (45-12) vs. Eastern Michigan
Kentucky vs. Michigan
Raleigh, N.C. Regional
North Carolina State (38-20) vs. James Madison
Charlotte vs. South Carolina
Athens, Ga. Regional
#8 Georgia (35-21-1) vs. Lipscomb
Georgia Tech vs. Louisville
Fullerton, Calif. Regional (ESPNU)
#5 Cal State Fullerton (37-19) vs. Rider
Virginia vs. UCLA
Stanford, Calif. Regional
Stanford (33-20-2) vs. UC Davis
Arkansas vs. Pepperdine
Stillwater, Okla. Regional
Oklahoma State (42-16) vs. Western Kentucky
TCU vs. Wichita State
Tallahassee, Fla. Regional
#4 Florida St. (48-10) vs. Bucknell
Tulane vs. Florida
Chapel Hill, N.C. Regional
#2 North Carolina (46-12) vs. Mount St. Mary's
Elon vs. UNC-Wilmington
Conway, S.C. Regional
Coastal Carolina (47-12) vs. Columbia
Alabama vs. East Carolina
Lincoln, Neb. Regional
Nebraska (40-14-1) vs. Eastern Illinois
Oral Roberts vs. UC Irvine
Baton Rouge, La. Regional
#7 LSU (43-16-1) vs. Texas Southern (16-32)
New Orleans (42-18) vs. Southern Miss (40-20)
Houston, Texas Regional
#6 Rice (42-13) vs. Sam Houston St.
St. John's vs. Texas
College Station, Texas Regional
Texas A&M (43-16) vs. Illinois-Chicago
Houston vs. Dallas Baptist
Long Beach, Calif. Regional
Long Beach St. (37-19) vs. Fresno St.
Cal vs. San Diego
Tempe, Ariz. Regional
#3 Arizona State (45-11) vs. Stony Brook
Oklahoma vs. Vanderbilt