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LSU's Jared Poche' will take the mound against Southeastern Louisiana
Photo by:Steve Franz, LSU Athletics Staff Photographer
Baseball Ready to Open NCAA Regional at The Box
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Published: May 29, 2014, 01:34 PM (CT)
Updated: May 30, 2014, 09:06 AM (CT)
by Bill Franques, Sr. Associate SID

BATON ROUGE, La. – Fourth-ranked LSU (44-14-1) opens NCAA Regional play at 2 p.m. CT Friday against Southeastern Louisiana in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.

The game can be heard on the LSU Sports Radio Network, including Baton Rouge flagship WDGL-FM 98.1 FM. Live audio and stats of the game may be accessed free in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live, and live video will be available at ESPN3.com.

NCAA Regional Info

LSU, ranked No. 4 this week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, has appeared in the Top 10 of a major college baseball poll for 50 consecutive weeks.

The Tigers, champions of the Southeastern Conference Tournament, are the No. 8 National Seed in the NCAA Tournament, marking the fifth time in coach Paul Mainieri’s eight seasons that LSU is a national seed.

LSU leads the nation this season in shutouts with 17, including a 2-0 victory over Florida on Sunday in the SEC Tournament championship game. The Tigers enter the NCAA Tournament riding an eight-game win streak in which LSU has outscored its opposition, 87-8.

Freshman left-hander Jared Poche’ (9-3) will start Friday’s game on the mound for the Tigers. Poche was named to the SEC All-Tournament team last week after defeating Vanderbilt in LSU’s opening game. Poche’ limited the Commodores to one run on five hits in seven innings with three strikeouts.

Southeastern Louisiana will counter with right-hander Andro Cutura, who is 10-2 this season with a1.72 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 99.2 innings.

“Sometimes you can save your second pitcher for the second or third game, but I have too much respect for Southeastern,” Mainieri said. “I feel like Poche’ is a good matchup for us. If he continues to pitch the way he has, then I have confidence that we will be in good shape. Southeastern is a good team, and their pitcher is really tough. Hopefully, we will swing the bats well and get a lead.

“We already played Southeastern in the middle of the week this season and didn’t faced their number one starter. It will be fun to face them and their top pitcher. I’m sure their guys are really excited to face us. There was a bizarre play in the game earlier this season where the catcher threw the ball in the dugout to score a couple of runs. They haven’t played in The Box this year so I don’t know how they will adapt to playing in front of such a big crowd. You can throw out everything that happened in the regular season.”

Junior catcher/first baseman Tyler Moore has spearheaded LSU’s offensive surge, batting .448 (13-for-29) during the eight-game win streak with four doubles, three homers and 19 RBI. Sophomore shortstop Alex Bregman is hitting .417 (15-for-36) with four doubles, three homers and 13 RBI in the last eight games, and freshman outfielder Jake Fraley is batting .600 (15-for-25) during the eight-game period with one double, one homer and five RBI.

SLU, the Southland Conference tournament champion, is led at the plate by catcher Jameson Fisher, who is hitting .394 with 16 doubles, one triple and 37 RBI. Andrew Godbold is hitting .348 for the Lions with eight homers and 57 RBI.

LSU has the highest all-time NCAA Tournament winning percentage (132-51, .721), and the Tigers are appearing in the NCAA Tournament for the 27th time. LSU has an 83-19 mark in regional games, a 14-10 record in super regional games and a 35-22 mark in the College World Series. The Tigers have won 20 regional titles, six super regional titles and six College World Series championships (1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000,  2009). The Tigers are playing host to an NCAA Regional for the 22nd time since 1986, including 21 of the past 25 seasons. LSU has a 72-14 (.837) mark in NCAA Regional games at home. LSU is 25-1 in NCAA Regional opening games - the Tigers’ only loss came to Houston in the 1985 Central Regional at Austin, Texas.

LSU leads the overall series with Southeastern Louisiana, 64-17, including a 7-3 win over the Lions this season (Feb. 19) in Hammond. LSU has won 18 of the last 19 meetings between the schools -- SLU’s win in that stretch came in 2008, a 6-3 victory over the Tigers in the original Alex Box Stadium. LSU has a 37-3 mark against Southeastern Louisiana since 1990. LSU and SLU have met on one previous occasion in an NCAA Regional - the Tigers defeated the Lions, 10-6, in the opening game of the 1994 regional in Baton Rouge.

Southeastern Louisiana Lions (37-23) vs. #4 LSU Fighting Tigers (44-14-1)

DATE/TIME
Friday, May 30 – 2 p.m. CT

STADIUM
Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field (10,326)

RANKINGS
LSU – No. 4 NCBWA; No. 5 USA Today; No. 7 Baseball America; No. 7 Collegiate Baseball
SLU – unranked

RADIO
LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates (WDGL 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge)

INTERNET
LSUsports.net – free live audio in the Geaux Zone/free live stats
ESPN3.com – live video

SERIES RECORD VS. SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA
LSU leads the overall series with Southeastern Louisiana, 64-17, including a 7-3 win over the Lions this season (Feb. 19) in Hammond. LSU has won 18 of the last 19 meetings between the schools -- SLU’s win in that stretch came in 2008, a 6-3 victory over the Tigers in the original Alex Box Stadium. LSU has a 37-3 mark against Southeastern Louisiana since 1990. LSU and SLU have met on one previous occasion in an NCAA Regional - the Tigers defeated the Lions, 10-6, in the opening game of the 1994 regional in Baton Rouge.

PITCHING MATCHUP
LSU – Fr. LHP Jared Poche' (9-3, 2.21 ERA, 69.2 IP, 23 BB, 43 SO)
SLU – RHP Andro Cutura (10-2, 1.72 ERA, 85.2 IP, 25 BB, 51 SO)

Regional Practice Day/Press Conference
May 29, 2014

LSU Head Coach Paul Mainieri

On starting Jared Poche'
“We started the process of starting him the first day of the regional a couple weeks ago. As we looked at the regional, we thought he would start the first game against Auburn, the first day of the SEC Tournament and then the first day of the regional. The rain started wreaking havoc on us in a lot of ways. I wasn't sure if we would be able to do that. As it turned out, his game against Alabama got rained out so he was able to start the first game against Auburn, and then the first game of the tournament. Sometimes you can save your second pitcher for the second or third game, but I have too much respect for Southeastern. I feel like Poche' is a good matchup for us. If he continues to pitch the way he has then I have confidence that we will be in good shape. This is a good team, and their pitcher is really tough. Hopefully, we will swing the bats well and get a lead. This gives us a chance to hold Aaron Nola too.”

On facing Southeastern Louisiana again…
“We already played them in the middle of the week and didn't faced their number one starter. It will be fun to face them and their top pitcher. I'm sure their guys are really excited to face us. There was a bizarre play where the catcher threw the ball in the dugout to score a couple of runs. They haven't played in The Box this year so I don't know how they will adapt to playing in front of such a big crowd. You can throw out everything that happened in the regular season.”

On dealing with the weather…
“During the regular season, I hate to start Nola in a game with the idea that we will only play two innings. The forecast seems to improve as the weekend goes by so Nola won't be impacted.”

On the depth of the bullpen…
“If you think back to January, this was our biggest concern. We only have four guys left from our staff that went to Omaha last year. At the beginning of the year, the closer was our biggest concern. Joe Broussard and Kurt McCune have really stepped into the role that Chris Cotton left. We've really had two guys step in when we need them. The job that Nate Fury, and McCune have done has been a real shot in the arm for our team. Parker Bugg, Zac Person and several other guys have been the most important part of our success. Alan Dunn is a magician and has done such a great job this year.”

Player Quotes

Infielder Alex Bregman

On the mentality of the team before the weekend…
“We are very excited and ready to compete against this Southeastern Louisiana team. They are a very good team. It is going to be a challenge. I know everyone in our locker room is ready to go. We are ready to get on the field, compete and get going.”

On Jared Poche'
“He is a competitor. He is going to go out there and throw a lot of strikes and compete. He is going to keep us on our toes defensively. He is going to fill up the zone and make Southeastern hit ground balls and fly balls. We are going to have to make the plays behind him. He is a very advanced freshman as a pitcher, and I cannot wait for him to get the start tomorrow.”

Outielder Tyler Moore

On the tournament and playing Southeastern Louisiana…
“There are no ‘give me’ wins, and Southeastern is definitely not a ‘give me’ win. They have a good baseball club so we are going to have to come out and compete.”

On his thoughts five wins away from Omaha…
“It is exciting. This is where it gets fun. We have done all of the work to put ourselves in a good position. Now, we just need to take it one game at a time to get to where we want to be.”

Pitcher Jared Poche'

On his first postseason start…
“I am very excited. I will definitely have a little adrenaline going, like my first SEC start. I know that I will need to go out there, really slow things down and just be myself.”

On his improvements throughout the season …
“I feel as though I have gotten a lot better just working with (pitching coach) Alan Dunn every day and watching (Aaron) Nola throughout the year. I have really built on my strengths and tried to minimize my weaknesses. I know my mound presence and confidence have grown, and the command of my pitches has improved.”


HOUSTON HEAD COACH TODD WHITTING

On his team’s attitude coming into NCAA Regionals…
“Well, I think we feel pretty good about things right now coming off a championship in our conference tournament.  The last two games over there, we played really well.  I felt like, going into the tournament, we weren’t really playing our best baseball.  Once we got into that thing and got rolling, especially against Central Florida (UCF) and a great Louisville team, we came out of there feeling pretty good.”

On the left-handed dynamic of the team…
“We are left-handed heavy, and that’s no secret.  Teams have been throwing lefties and stacking lefties against us all year because we are primarily left-handed.  It does shut down our run game a little bit, but like I said there are no secrets this time of year. I anticipate that we’ll probably see some this weekend.”

On preparing for Bryant when they aren’t on TV often…
“It’s really tough.  They are a good team.  If you look on paper, they look like the best team we’ve played all year.  They are hitting over .300, and they are pitching under a 3.00 ERA. They’ve stolen almost a hundred bases. They catch, and they throw really well.  They are as good a three-seed as there is out there.  We can’t look past anything.  We have to be ready to roll tomorrow night. 

On looking past Bryant to LSU…
“The team understands that all 64 teams are good.  You aren’t playing a “famous” team but you are playing a good team.  We’ll probably talk about tonight, but I’m not going to make too big of a deal out of it.”

On not hosting a NCAA Regional…
“We found out when we got off the plane that (Sunday) night.  They announced them while we were in the air.  We really thought that, when we beat Louisville, we thought that was going to be for the last host site.  It didn’t work out for us, but we are excited to be in Baton Rouge.  I told a lot of folks that if we didn’t host, this is where I would want to come just because it’s such a great college baseball environment.  The history here, the tradition here, where our program is trying to go.  We are trying to be, one day, what LSU baseball is.  This will be great for our fans and players to see what big time college baseball is all about.”

On Alex Box Stadium…
“This is as good a place as I’ve been.  This is the first time I’ve seen Alex Box since 2000.  It’s got a lot of character to it.  It’s not just a stale, minor league-looking park.  They’ve done a tremendous job.  It’s a great place.”

Player Quotes

1B Casey Grayson

On playing in Alex Box Stadium…
“It is an awesome stadium. It is a lot bigger than what we are use to playing in. It will have a lot more fans. Coach Whitting says the only thing that changes a game is the environment around you. It is still the same game we play all the time. It will be more people, but it will make it that more fun.”

On not making the tournament last season…
“That was our focus this year. Coach Whitting reminds us of that everyday in practice. We got left out. Keep working hard everyday, and get better to make it to the post-season tournament. It happened.”

On Bryant’s baseball team…
“I don’t know a lot about them. I’ve seen their record and some stats. The will be a good ball club just like everyone this time of year will be. Everyone will come out with the same mentality to move on to the next round. I think they will come out and play hard just like everyone else this weekend.”

On Houston’s overall season…
“Our pitching has carried us all year. Our hitting has been on-and-off. I feel like when we are playing good we will put up a lot of runs. Our speed will be on the bases and that will change the game for us. When we are playing well, that is when our offense is rolling.”


BRYANT HEAD COACH STEVE OWENS

On his team and their goals and strengths…
“Well, we set a goal in the fall of returning to the NCAA Regional and trying to win 40 games.  We’ve been able to accomplish both.  We had an awful winter in New England and the northeast, but we always play our first 20 games on the road anyway.  We actually played in good weather early and played pretty good teams.  We did our normal thing.  We played really well at times, made some mistakes and learned from them and tried to get better.  When we got into the northern part of our schedule, we played really well.  I don’t know how many games we won or lost after the first three weeks, but it was a lot.  The guys played very consistently.  We were a very good offensive team for the majority of the year.  We’ve struggled a little at the end, but I think we’ve got some things figured out.  We’ve got some players back in the right spots. Our pitching, our starting pitching especially, has elevated to another level toward the end of the year and provided us with another way to win other than scoring runs.  I think a strength of our club is that we are very balanced.  We have good starting pitching.  We have some good arms in the back end that are experienced, both right-handed and left-handed.  We have a dynamic lineup that can run, hit doubles, hit homeruns, walk and get hit by pitches.  We can do a lot of things.  A big priority for us is to take care of the baseball and only provide three outs to the other team for each inning.  That’s one thing that we’ve been really emphasizing.  We think our pitching, and our hitting is going to take care of itself.”

On their familiarity with playing SEC teams and the atmosphere…
“Well, with the media now, they are pretty aware.  You can watch college baseball games on TV, so we’ve watched a lot of SEC games at night over the course of the spring.  It’s a great venue.  They know how crazy the fans are, how supportive the fans are, how it’s going to smell like barbeque and all of that good stuff.  Ultimately, we are here to play baseball.  We are going to enjoy the atmosphere before and after the games and in between.  But during the games, we are just going to play.”

On playing Houston…
“Last year, we were a three-seed and we drew Arkansas, who was preseason number one in the country with pretty good arms.  This year, there’s two Top 10 teams in the country in our regional, so there are probably other places that would be a little bit easier. But when you play college baseball, if you have an opportunity to go play at LSU, whether you are playing them or someone else, and just enjoy that atmosphere. That’s something you look forward to.” 

RHP KEVIN MCAVOY

On playing bigger schools throughout the season for experience…
“The experience definitely helps a lot. Coach (Owens) challenges us every season. Last year, we played Ohio State and Oregon State. This year, we played Maryland. It has been good to be at the big schools and play in front of their crowds. I think that definitely prepares us for a regional like last year.”

On last year’s regional run for Bryant…
“Last year gave us a lot of experience. We have been talking about that this whole week. All of the guys who were there last year talked to the guys who are new this year. It will be a lot of help for us. We aren’t going on the field like it’s our first time. We were kind of shell shocked last year after the first game. I think we have learned from that, and we will be better this year.”

LHP CARL ANDERSON

On playing at Alex Box Stadium…
“It is an amazing place to be. It is always exciting on selection show day to find out where we are going. We got lucky to come here. It is an incredible atmosphere and has awesome fans. We are just excited and looking forward to it.”

On Bryant’s athletic program growing…
“In high school when I was getting recruited, I hadn’t heard of Bryant myself. I am from the Northeast. Over the past couple years, we have made a name for ourselves. We have played schools like Boston College and UConn. We have done a good job in the Northeast getting our name out there. After last year and this year, we are putting our name out there a little more. Our athletic program is doing very well.”


Southeastern Louisiana Head Coach Matt Riser

On getting ready for the game…
“Our team is calm, cool and collected. This is just like any other week. We were outdoors for two days and then indoor yesterday. Everyone is going out and getting their work in. At this point and time, it’s a matter of staying with the process.”

On advancing to the NCAA Regional…
“At the end of the day, we aren’t done yet. We are coming here to compete for a championship. We did it last week, and we look forward to a four-team regional. We like the way our team sets up for a tournament. We have two solid starters and a veteran bullpen. We really like the way we are set up.”

On being a dangerous four-seed…
“I think it’s a great matchup against LSU. We are excited to play LSU and for the opportunity. We are writing our story right now, and we aren’t finished yet.”

On Jay Artigues…
“Jay laid down the foundation for our program. He changed the mentality of Southeastern Athletics. We’ve had five championships in our sports, and he has down a tremendous job of bringing a championship mindset. I’m grateful that he gave me the chance six years ago and allowed me to be a part of it.”

On the crowd and atmosphere at Alex Box Stadium…
“We have a unique crew and nothing gets to them. The name across the chest and the venue don’t intimidate them. It might fuel their fire. We are going to have a great crowd here this weekend.”

Southeastern Louisiana Players

Pitcher Andro Čutura

On the opportunity to pitch in this regional…
“I am definitely excited. I am going to try and take it like every other game. I just want to try and stay calm. We are going to have a great crowd here, and we are playing against a great opponent in LSU. I think our team is pretty confident in ourselves. We are going to go out and compete.”

On the team’s recent success…
“We have had a six-game win streak. Our team is really starting to come together, and we are winning a lot of ball games. Offense, defense and pitching are all stringing together very well. LSU’s team has been the same way. They are on a great win streak too. We are going to be really two teams going head-to-head. I know they are not going to take us lightly. Our team is all very confident and excited to see what happens.”

On the coaching staff…
“They have all done a great job here. Coach Jay Artigues did an excellent job. He really has brought up this program to where we are now. He was confident in handing it over to Coach Riser who he thought could take us to the next level, and he certainly has. He brings a lot of energy to our team. We have the youngest coaching staff in the nation, and they relate well with our players. We get along really well. It has taken us to this tournament, and we are going to make a run for it.”

Catcher/Infielder Jameson Fisher

On pitcher Andro Čutura…
“Anytime he is on the mound, we have a shot against any team in the country. His poise is great. He is incredibly composed. When he is there, we really do have a chance against anyone.”

On what the team learned from the late-game loss versus ULL …
“We took a lot away from that game. Coach Riser told us to really pay attention to our capability of beating them. We played with that team until the very end when we gave up a home run. We competed with one of the best teams in the country. From here, we just have to realize what we can do and take one pitch at a time.”

 

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