Photo by:Hilary Scheinuk, LSU Athletics Student Photographer
SEC's Top Baseball Teams Square Off in Lexington
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Published: April 19, 2012, 12:47 PM (CT)
Updated: April 20, 2012, 02:37 PM (CT)
by Bill Franques, Sr. Associate SID

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Top-ranked LSU (31-7, 11-4) faces No. 2 Kentucky (33-5, 11-4 SEC) this weekend at Cliff Hagan Stadium in Lexington in a matchup of teams tied for first place in the Southeastern Conference standings.

Game 1 is set for 6:30 p.m. ET Friday, Game 2 begins at 2 p.m. ET Saturday, and first pitch for Game 3 is 1 p.m. ET Sunday.

The 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.

The games on Friday and Saturday will be televised by Fox Sports South, and they can be seen in parts of Louisiana on Fox Sports College Atlantic (Ch. 255 on Cox Baton Rouge).

LSU is ranked No. 1 in the Collegiate Baseball newspaper poll released Monday. The Tigers have won 14 of their last 15 games, including the last seven in a row.

The 2012 club is the third LSU team to be ranked No. 1 during the six-season tenure of coach Paul Mainieri. The 2009 team, which won the national championship, was ranked No. 1 in seven different weeks. The 2010 Fighting Tiger squad held a No. 1 ranking for three weeks.

Television Friday:
Live: Cox Ch. 96
(Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette)
Replay: FOX College Sports Atlantic | Listings (.pdf)

This weekend's series marks the third time in four weeks LSU will face a team ranked among the Top 3 in the nation. LSU swept Arkansas three weeks ago when the Razorbacks were No. 3, and the Tigers won two of three game at Florida two weeks ago when the Gators were No. 1.

  SEC Overall
Eastern    
Kentucky 11-4 33-5
Florida 9-6 29-8
South Carolina 8-7 27-11
Georgia 7-8 23-15
Tennessee 7-9 22-16
Vanderbilt 6-9 17-20
Western    
LSU 11-4 31-7
Arkansas 8-7 27-10
Ole Miss 7-8 25-12
Auburn 7-8 21-16
Mississippi St. 6-10 22-16
Alabama 4-11 14-24
SEC Weekend Schedule

All Times Central and Subject to Change

Thursday, April 19
Mississippi St. def. Tennessee, 2-1 (11)

Friday, April 20
LSU at Kentucky, 5:30 p.m. (FOX College Sports)
Georgia at Florida, 6 p.m. (CSS)
South Carolina at Auburn, 6:30 p.m.
Arkansas at Ole Miss, 6:30 p.m.
Tennessee at Mississippi St., 6:30 p.m.
Vanderbilt at Alabama, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 21
LSU at Kentucky, 1 p.m. (FSN)
Tennessee at Mississippi St., 1 p.m.
Vanderbilt at Alabama, 2 p.m.
South Carolina at Auburn, 3 p.m. (SportSouth)
Arkansas at Ole Miss, 4 p.m.
Georgia at Florida, 6 p.m. (CSS)

Sunday, April 22
LSU at Kentucky, noon
South Carolina at Auburn, 1 p.m.
Vanderbilt at Alabama, 1 p.m.
Arkansas at Ole Miss, 1:30 p.m. (CST)
Georgia at Florida, 2 p.m. (ESPN2)

"We're looking forward to a great series between the top two teams in the nation," Mainieri said. "I thought Kentucky had a good club last year, and this year they have been outstanding. We know we're facing a tremendous challenge, especially in their ball park, but these are the types of series and atmospheres we embrace at LSU. We're going to relish the opportunity to play against a great team in what should be a very spirited environment."

Mainieri said that sophomore right-hander Kevin Gausman, No. 2 in the SEC with 77 strikeouts on the year, will start Friday's game on the mound for LSU. Sophomore right-hander Ryan Eades will start on Saturday, with freshman right-hander Aaron Nola getting the call on Sunday.

Kentucky coach Gary Henderson will counter with a trio of left-handers - junior Taylor Rogers, junior Jerad Grundy and sophomore Corey Littrell.

The Tigers have outscored the opposition, 50-20, during their seven-game win streak and are batting .295 in that span with 12 doubles, two triples, four homers and nine steals. The LSU pitching staff has a 2.29 ERA over the past seven games, and opponents are hitting just .195 against the Tigers during the win streak.

LSU, which has committed just two errors in its last six games, is No. 1 in the SEC with a .979 cumulative fielding percentage. The Tigers have played half of their games (19 out of 38) without making an error.

LSU has lowered its cumulative ERA to 2.96, which is second in the SEC, and the Tigers are batting .303 as a team, fourth-best in the league.

Junior outfielder Raph Rhymes, the SEC's leading hitter with a .484 average, has collected eight doubles, one homer, 40 RBI and 27 runs. Junior rightfielder Mason Katz is batting .348 with 11 doubles, one triple, seven homers and 31 RBI, while junior catcher Ty Ross is hitting .322 with five doubles, one triple, one homer and 29 RBI.

Kentucky is the SEC's top-hitting team with a .316 average, and the Wildcats are second in the league with 44 home runs. The Kentucky pitching staff has a 3.53 ERA, which ranks seventh in the SEC, and UK is No. 6 in the league with a .974 fielding percentage.

Kentucky is led at the plate by freshman outfielder Austin Cousino, who is hitting .353 with 15 doubles, one triple, six homers and 30 RBI. Freshman first baseman A.J. Reed is batting .328 with eight doubles, three homers and 37 RBI, while junior catcher Luke Maile is hitting .326 with nine doubles, 10 homers and 37 RBI.

LSU leads the overall series with Kentucky, 42-23-1, and the Tigers have won 10 of their last 13 SEC series with the Wildcats, including a three-game sweep of UK last season in Alex Box Stadium. Kentucky, however, swept three games from the Tigers in 2010, the last time the teams met in Lexington.

Friday Night Television Update (posted April 20, 2:36 p.m. CT)

Cox Communications will air tonight's LSU-Kentucky baseball game live in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette on Cox Cable Ch. 96 beginning at 5:30 Central Time.

The game will be rebroadcast on Fox College Sports Atlantic (Cox Cable Ch. 255) beginning at 10 p.m. CT.

"Our thanks to Cox Communications for assuring that tonight's game will be carried in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette," said Herb Vincent, LSU senior associate athletic director.  "Fans need to be aware that this game is produced by the University of Kentucky and will have Kentucky announcers and graphics, but we are appreciative of the cooperation of Cox Communications and the University of Kentucky in providing this telecast of the top-ranked teams in college baseball."

"We are delighted to step in and partner with LSU to offer fans a chance to view this highly anticipated and a very important midseason collegiate baseball game," said Jason Furrate, director of programming for Cox Louisiana. "With this last minute arrangement, we will not have Louisiana announcers, but know that Tiger fans will still enjoy watching such a high powered match-up."

#1 LSU Fighting Tigers (31-7, 11-4 SEC) at #2 Kentucky Wildcats (33-5, 11-4 SEC)

DATES/TIMES
Friday, April 20 - 6:30 p.m. ET; Saturday, April 21 - 2 p.m. ET; Sunday, April 22 - 1 p.m. ET

STADIUM
Cliff Hagan Stadium in Lexington, Ky.

RANKINGS
LSU - No. 1 by Collegiate Baseball; No. 4 by Baseball America; No. 4 by USA Today/ESPN
UK - No. 2 by Collegiate Baseball; No. 3 by Baseball America; No. 3 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.UKathletics.com - live video on Sunday only (subscription based)

TV
Friday - Fox College Sports Atlantic (Live in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette on channel 96; replay on Fox College Sports Ch. 255 on Cox Cable in Baton Rouge)
Saturday - Fox College Sports Atlantic (Fox College Sports Ch. 255 on Cox Cable in Baton Rouge)
Sunday - No TV

SERIES RECORD
LSU leads the overall series with Kentucky, 42-23-1, and the Tigers have won 10 of their last 13 SEC series with the Wildcats, including a three-game sweep of UK last season in Alex Box Stadium. Kentucky, however, swept three games from the Tigers in 2010, the last time the teams met in Lexington.

PITCHING MATCHUPS
Game 1
LSU - So. RHP Kevin Gausman (6-1, 2.76 ERA, 62.0 IP, 19 BB, 77 SO)
UK - Jr. LHP Taylor Rogers (4-1, 5.07 ERA, 49.2 IP, 11 BB, 54 SO)

Game 2
LSU - So. RHP Ryan Eades (5-1, 2.51 ERA, 57.1 IP, 13 BB, 45 SO)
UK - Jr. LHP Jerad Grundy (3-1, 4.60 ERA, 45.0 IP, 20 BB, 36 SO)

Game 3
LSU - Fr. RHP Aaron Nola (5-1, 3.15 ERA, 45.2 IP, 4 BB, 46 SO)
UK - So. LHP Corey Littrell (6-0, 1.95 ERA, 55.1 IP, 14 BB, 48 SO)

 

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