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LSU's Austin Ross
Photo by:Chris Parent, LSU Athletics Student Photographer
Baseball Takes on West Rival Arkansas
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Published: March 18, 2010, 12:00 AM (CT)
Updated: March 18, 2010, 07:18 PM (CT)
by Bill Franques, Sr. Associate SID

BATON ROUGE - The third-ranked LSU baseball team (14-2) begins defense of its Southeastern Conference title at 7 p.m. Friday when the Tigers play host to No. 13 Arkansas (12-3) in Game 1 of a three-game league series in Alex Box Stadium.

Game 2 of the series begins at 3 p.m. Saturday, and first pitch for Game 3 is 1 p.m. Sunday.

The games will be carried by the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network. The Baton Rouge affiliate is WDGL 98.1 FM. Live video, audio and stats may be accessed in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net.

All three games will be televised live by Cox Sports Television (Cable Ch. 37 in Baton Rouge).

LSU is ranked No. 3 this week in the Collegiate Baseball and USA Today/ESPN polls, and No. 7 in the Baseball America poll released Monday.

The Tigers have appeared in the Top 10 of at least one college baseball poll for 28 consecutive weeks, a streak that began on May 19, 2008.

LSU is seeking to become the first SEC school to win consecutive league titles since the 1996 and 1997 LSU clubs won back-to-back conference championships.

"We're looking forward to starting SEC play this weekend against a tremendous Arkansas club," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "We've had some great games against them over the past few years, and we respect the way they play the game. Arkansas has very talented players, and they execute at a high level. It will be a great matchup that any college baseball fan would enjoy."

Mainieri said that junior right-hander Austin Ross (2-0) will start Game 1 against the Razorbacks, and sophomore right-hander Joey Bourgeois will start Game 2. The Tigers' Game 3 starter will be determined as the series unfolds.

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn will counter will counter with senior right-hander Mike Bolsinger (2-0) on Friday, sophomore left-hander Drew Smyly (2-0) on Saturday and junior right-hander Brett Eibner (2-1) on Sunday.

LSU senior first baseman Blake Dean was named Louisiana Sportswriters Association Hitter of the Week Tuesday after he batted .643 (9-for-14) in four games with two doubles, three homers, nine RBI and six runs. In the Tigers' series versus Kansas, Dean hit .600 (6-for-10) with one double, two homers, five RBI and three runs. Dean is hitting .391 (25-for-64) on the year with four homers and a team-high 23 RBI.

Junior centerfielder Leon Landry enters the series as the Tigers' leading hitter, batting .411 (23-for-56) with three doubles, three triples, two homers and 17 RBI. Sophomore rightfielder Mikie Mahtook is batting.385 (20-for-52) this season with six doubles, two triples, two homers and 14 RBI.

Sophomore right-hander Matty Ott earned his sixth save of the season Saturday versus Kansas, increasing his career total to 22. Ott is in second place on the all-time LSU saves list, trailing only Rick Greene, who had 29 saves for the Tigers from 1990-92. Ott worked 1.1 innings to earn the save on Saturday, striking out all four Kansas hitters that he faced.

Sophomore infielder Zack Cox is hitting .410 for the Razorbacks with two homers and 18 RBI, while junior infielder Andy Wilkins has team-highs of four doubles, six homers and 20 RBI.

Arkansas is 11th in the league with a .288 team batting average, but the Razorbacks have the league's best team ERA at 2.73. LSU is fourth in the SEC in hitting (.326) and 10th in ERA (4.38).

LSU leads the all-time series with Arkansas, 49-22, and the Tigers have won the last five SEC regular-season series vs. the Razorbacks.  Arkansas' last series win over LSU came in 2004 in Baton Rouge.

The Tigers are 13-4 against Arkansas over the past five seasons, including two wins over the Razorbacks in the 2009 College World Series.

#13 Arkansas Razorbacks (12-3) at # 3 LSU Fighting Tigers (14-2)

DATES/TIMES 
Friday, March 19 - 7 p.m. CT; Saturday, March 20 - 3 p.m. CT; Sunday, March 21 - 1 p.m. CT

STADIUM
Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. (10,150)

RANKINGS
LSU - No. 3 by Collegiate Baseball; No. 3 by USA Today/ESPN; No. 6 by NCBWA; No. 7 by Baseball America
Arkansas - No. 13 by Baseball America; No. 14 by NCBWA; No. 15 by USA Today/ESPN; No. 16 by Collegiate Baseball
 
RADIO
LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates/Baton Rouge affiliate is WDGL 98.1 FM

INTERNET
www.LSUsports.net - live video, audio and stats

TV
All three games televised live by Cox Sports Television
 
SERIES RECORD
LSU leads, 49-22
LSU has won its last five SEC regular-season series vs. Arkansas - the Razorbacks' last series win over LSU came in 2004 in Baton Rouge. The Tigers are 13-4 against Arkansas over the past five seasons, including two wins over the Razorbacks in the 2009 College World Series.

PITCHING MATCHUPS
Game 1
LSU - Jr. RHP Austin Ross (2-0, 4.57 ERA, 21.2 IP, 6 BB, 25 SO)
ARK - Sr. RHP Mike Bolsinger (2-0, 3.38 ERA, 21.1 IP, 5 BB, 19 SO)

Game 2
LSU - So. RHP Joey Bourgeois (2-1, 4.74 ERA, 19.0 IP, 10 BB, 16 SO)
ARK - So. LHP Drew Smyly (2-0, 1.80 ERA, 20.0 IP, 8 BB, 31 SO)

Game 3
LSU - TBA
ARK - Jr. RHP Brett Eibner (2-1, 1.23 ERA, 14.2 IP, 3 BB, 15 SO)

 

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