BATON ROUGE -- Eighth-ranked LSU opens the 2012 season at 7 p.m. Friday when the Tigers play host to Air Force in Alex Box Stadium. The Tigers will meet Alcorn State at 6:30 p.m. Saturday before the concluding the weekend on Sunday with a 1 p.m. matchup with Air Force.
In addition to the LSU games, Alcorn State will face Air Force in Alex Box Stadium at 11 a.m. on Friday and again at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Admission is free to the Air Force-Alcorn State games.
The LSU games will be carried by the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network. The Baton Rouge affiliate is WDGL 98.1 FM. Live video and audio of the games may be accessed in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live, as well as on members' iPads with the new LSUsports for iPad app.
To learn more about Geaux Zone packages, visit www.lsusports.net/join. At least 30 home games will include live HD video streaming this year, as indicated by the gold video camera icon () on the 2012 Baseball schedule page.
The Tigers open the 2012 season ranked No. 8 by Baseball America, No. 12 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 14 by USA Today/ESPN.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri, entering his sixth season at the helm of the program, expressed great optimism about the new season.
"I do think we have a good chance of having an excellent team," said Mainieri, who served as the Air Force head coach from 1989-94. "This is an exciting time, and we're really excited about this season. A lot has already been mentioned about our pitching staff; certainly our pitching staff is going to have to lead the way for us this year, and I think it will. At the plate, we have a gritty, determined group of players that will compete hard on every pitch."
Mainieri said preseason All-American right-hander Kevin Gausman, a sophomore from Centennial, Colo. will start Friday's game on the mound for LSU. Sophomore right-hander Ryan Eades will be the Tigers' starter on Saturday, and sophomore right-hander Kurt McCune is LSU's starter on Sunday.
McCune was a 2011 Freshman all-America selection, Gausman played for the USA Collegiate National Team in July and Eades was voted the Cape Cod Pitcher of the Year last summer.
Other Tigers returning that made significant contributions last season include junior all-SEC outfielder Mason Katz, junior outfielder/DH Raph Rhymes, senior utility player Grant Dozar, junior outfielder Alex Edward, sophomore outfielder/infielder JaCoby Jones, a 2011 Freshman all-American, and sophomore catcher Ty Ross, a 2011 Freshman all-SEC selection.
The Falcons are coached by Mike Kazlausky, who played for three seasons under Mainieri (1989-91) at Air Force. He then served the United States as a C-17 transport pilot for 20 years, logging more than 3,000 flight hours while flying combat missions in Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Mike is a legitimate United States hero and now he has been made the baseball coach at his alma mater," Mainieri said. "I love him dearly and he is one of the special people in my life. Those kids in the Air Force Academy are going into a life of service where they will be the custodians for our way of life. They make a lot of sacrifices for all of us."
Air Force posted a 19-36 overall mark in 2011, and the Falcons were 4-20 in Mountain West Conference play. Among Air Force's top returning players are catcher/outfielder Garrett Custons (.330, 6 HR, 23 RBI in 2011) and junior outfielder Alex Bast (.318, 3 HR, 30 RBI in 2011).
Air Force Falcons (0-0) at #8 LSU Fighting Tigers (0-0)
Friday, February 17 - 7 p.m. CT
Sunday, February 19 - 1 p.m. CT
Alcorn State Braves (0-0) at #8 LSU Fighting Tigers (0-0)
Saturday, February 18 - 6:30 p.m. CT
Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. (10,326)
LSU - No. 8 by Baseball America; No. 12 by Collegiate Baseball; No. 14 by ESPN/USA Today
Air Force - unranked
Alcorn State - unranked
LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates
The Baton Rouge affiliate is WDGL 98.1 FM
Pregame show starts at 6:30 p.m.
LSU All-American Mikie Mahtook throws the ceremonial first pitch
First 4,000 fans in the stadium receive an LSU Baseball poster
After the game, all kids can run the bases on the Alex Box Stadium field
First meeting between LSU and Air Force
LSU leads the series with Alcorn State, 2-0
Air Force at LSU on Feb. 17
LSU - So. RHP Kevin Gausman (2011 stats: 5-6, 3.51 ERA, 89.2 IP, 23 BB, 86 SO)
AFA - Jr. RHP Sean Carley (2011 stats: 3-5, 3.94 ERA, 82.1 IP, 24 BB, 62 SO)
Alcorn State at LSU on Feb. 18
LSU - So. RHP Ryan Eades (2011 stats: 4-1, 4.81 ERA, 43 IP, 18 BB, 31 SO)
ASU - TBA
Air Force at LSU on Feb. 19
LSU - So. RHP Kurt McCune (2011 stats: 7-3, 3.31 ERA, 89.2 IP, 25 BB, 68 SO)
AFA - Sr. LHP Michael Ceci (2011 stats: 2-4, 5.40 ERA, 40.0 IP, 10 BB, 16 SO)