BATON ROUGE -- Third-ranked LSU (36-13, 16-8 SEC) and No. 9 Florida (34-15, 16-8 SEC) meet in a pivotal Southeastern Conference baseball series in Alex Box Stadium.
The series begins at 7 p.m. Friday, with Game 2 set for 7 p.m. Saturday and Game 3 starting at Noon 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 of all three games may be accessed in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net.
The games on Friday and Sunday will be televised by Cox Sports Television (Cable Ch. 37 in Baton Rouge). Saturday’s game will be televised by Fox Sports Florida.
LSU and Florida are tied with Ole Miss for first place in the overall Southeastern Conference race with just six games remaining in league play. LSU is seeking its first SEC regular-season title since 2003.
LSU won two of three games at seventh-ranked Arkansas last weekend, and the Tigers have won 11 of their last 12 SEC series, dating back to last season.
“Our players are extremely excited about this weekend,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “It should be an outstanding series between two very good clubs. We’re looking forward to big crowds and a great SEC weekend as we enter the home stretch of the league race.”
Mainieri said sophomore right-hander Anthony Ranaudo (5-3, 3.28 ERA) will start Friday’s game on the mound for LSU. Senior right-hander Louis Coleman (9-2, 2.71 ERA) will start for the Tigers on Saturday, and sophomore right-hander Austin Ross (5-5, 4.88 ERA) will be Sunday’s starting pitcher.
Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan will counter with senior left-hander Stephen Locke (3-0, 3.69 ERA) on Friday and freshman right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (5-1, 3.58 ERA) on Saturday. Florida’s Sunday starting pitcher has yet to be determined.
Ranaudo leads the SEC with 105 strikeouts this season, and he is No. 1 in the league in opponent batting average (.206). Coleman leads the conference in wins with nine, and he is No. 2 in opponent batting average (.211) and No. 4 in strikeouts (92).
Ranaudo is the first LSU pitcher to reach the 100-strikeout plateau in a season since Bo Pettit recorded 121 Ks in 2002.
Coleman was named SEC Pitcher of the Week after he turned in a dominant outing against Arkansas last Saturday, recording a complete-game shutout as the Tigers posted a 5-0 victor. Coleman’s shutout was the first by an LSU pitcher since Greg Smith blanked Vanderbilt, 3-0, on May 1, 2005.
Only three Arkansas batters reached base against Coleman, who allowed two hits in nine innings with one walk and six strikeouts. After surrendering a single to start the second inning, Coleman retired 19 straight Razorback hitters before Arkansas recorded its second hit with one out in the eighth inning.
Ross earned his first win in over a month Sunday at Arkansas, as he scattered 10 hits in six innings and limited the Hogs to three runs with two walks and three strikeouts, Ross left the game in the seventh with a 4-3 lead, and LSU relievers Chad Jones and Matty Ott blanked Arkansas the rest of the way to preserve the win.
Jones, a sophomore left-hander who also plays safety for the LSU football team, halted a potential Arkansas rally by pitching a scoreless seventh inning. Ott, a freshman right-hander, worked the final two innings to earn his SEC-leading 11th save of the season. Ott allowed one hit in two scoreless innings with no walks and three strikeouts.
Junior outfielder/DH Blake Dean continues to swing a hot bat for the Tigers, as he led LSU to three wins in four games last week. Dean hit .500 (7-for-14) for the week with two doubles, three homers, seven RBI and five runs.
Dean combined with leftfielder Ryan Schimpf to accomplish a rare feat in the Tigers’ 13-2 win over Tulane on April 29. Dean and Schimpf launched back-to-back home runs twice in the same inning, highlighting a 10-run LSU uprising.
Dean -- who was hitting only .225 on March 21 -- has raised his average to .333 (58-for-174) with 11 doubles, 11 homers, 48 RBI and 41 runs.
LSU sophomore second baseman DJ LeMahieu is hitting .352 (63-for-179) on the year with eight doubles, three triples, three homers and 23 RBI.
First baseman Sean Ochinko is batting .341 (57-for-167) with 10 doubles, seven homers and 43 RBI.
Junior outfielder Jared Mitchell is No. 1 in the SEC in stolen bases with 28 steals in 34 attempts, and he is No. 5 in the league in walks (36).
LSU enters Friday’s game batting .312 as a team with 75 home runs and 90 stolen bases. LSU is third in the SEC in batting average, fifth in homers and first in steals. The Tigers have a 4.37 team ERA, which ranks No. 4 in the league.
Florida is fifth in the SEC with a .309 team batting average, and the Gators are eighth in the league in homers (52) and eighth in stolen bases (53). Florida is No. 2 in the SEC with a 4.00 team ERA.
The Gators are led by senior Avery Barnes, who is hitting .364 with six doubles, six triples, eight homers and 37 RBI.
Freshman Preston Tucker is batting .354 with seven doubles, three triples, 11 homers and 63 RBI, and sophomore Josh Adams is hitting .343 with eight doubles, one triple, six homers and 38 RBI.
LSU leads the all-time series with Florida, 48-31-1, though the Gators have won three straight SEC series over the Tigers.
LSU’s last series victory over Florida came in 2003 in Baton Rouge.
#9 Florida Gators (34-15, 16-8) at #3 LSU Fighting Tigers (36-13, 16-8)
Friday, May 8 – 7 p.m. CT; Saturday, May 9 – 7 p.m. CT; Sunday, May 10 – Noon CT
Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. (9,200)
LSU - No. 3 by Baseball America; No. 3 by Collegiate Baseball; No. 4 by USA Today/ESPN
Florida – No. 9 by Collegiate Baseball; No. 11 by Baseball America; No. 12 by USA Today/ESPN
LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates
The Baton Rouge affiliate is WDGL 98.1 FM
www.LSUsports.net – live video, audio and stats for all three games
Cox Sports Television on Friday and Sunday (Cable Ch. 37 in Baton Rouge)
Fox Sports Florida on Saturday
LSU leads, 48-31-1 (teams first met in 1971)
LSU – So. RHP Anthony Ranaudo (5-3, 3.28 ERA, 71.1 IP, 26 BB, 105 SO)
UF – Sr. LHP Stephen Locke (3-0, 3.69 ERA, 39.0 IP, 8 BB, 32 SO)
LSU – Sr. RHP Louis Coleman (9-2, 2.71 ERA, 76.1 IP, 17 BB, 92 SO)
UF – Fr. RHP Anthony DeSclafani (5-1, 3.58 ERA, 50.1 IP, 8 BB, 40 SO)
LSU – So. RHP Austin Ross (5-5, 4.88 ERA, 59.0 IP, 13 BB, 51 SO)
UF – TBA