BATON ROUGE -- LSU (32-16-1, 12-11-1 SEC) plays its final regular-season series in venerable Alex Box Stadium this weekend as the Tigers play host to Mississippi State (20-29, 7-17 SEC). The 70-year-old stadium will be replaced in 2009 by the New Alex Box Stadium, which is currently under construction and scheduled to be completed this fall.
Game 1 of the series begins at 7 p.m. CT Friday, Game 2 starts at 3 p.m. CT Saturday, and first pitch for Game 3 is 1 p.m. CT 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 and audio of the 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 Net (Cable Ch. 38 in Baton Rouge).
LSU has surged into the national rankings on the strength of a nine-game win streak, including back-to-back Southeastern Conference series sweeps.
The Tigers are ranked No. 22 by Baseball America magazine, No. 22 by USA Today/ESPN and No. 23 by Collegiate Baseball magazine.
LSU has recorded consecutive three-game sweeps over South Carolina and Kentucky to move into first place in the SEC Western Division. The Tigers are a half-game ahead of Ole Miss and Alabama in the division race with six conference games remaining.
The six straight SEC wins marks the first time LSU has recorded consecutive conference sweeps since 1998, when the Tigers swept Arkansas and Kentucky.
Mississippi State is in sixth place in the SEC Western Division, still mathematically alive for a berth in the eight-team SEC Tournament, which begins May 21 in Hoover, Ala.
“We’ve put ourselves in a position that if we get the job done, we can reach the postseason,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “Our team is growing up – recently, we’ve gotten that one big hit or one big pitch that’s allowed us to win some close ball games. Our kids are playing with a lot of confidence right now, and hopefully we can keep it going.
“There should be a myriad of emotions present this weekend as we play the final series in Alex Box Stadium. There are a lot of festivities planned, and we should have some great crowds. Hopefully, our team will play well and send the old stadium out in a good way.”
Mainieri said junior left-hander Ryan Verdugo (7-2, 2.86 ERA) will start Friday’s game on the mound for LSU. Junior left-hander Blake Martin (3-3, 5.05 ERA) will be the Tigers’ starter on Saturday, and Mainieri said he will decide upon Sunday’s starter as the season progresses.
Mississippi State coach Ron Polk, who is retiring at the end of the season, will counter this weekend with junior right-hander Chad Crosswhite (2-4, 9.33 ERA) on Friday, sophomore right-hander Ricky Bowen (3-5, 6.79 ERA) on Saturday and senior left-hander Justin Pigott (2-2, 4.42 ERA) on Sunday.
LSU junior rightfielder Derek Helenihi leads the Tigers with a .335 (57-for-170) batting average, and he has collected nine doubles, four triples, two homers and 30 RBI.
Sophomore designated hitter/outfielder Blake Dean is batting .332 (62-for-187) with 10 doubles, two triples, 10 homers and 40 RBI. During LSU’s nine-game win streak, Dean is hitting.432 (16-for-37) with five doubles, two homers and eight RBI.
Junior first baseman Matt Clark is batting .325 (51-for-157) on the year with nine doubles, 17 homers and 38 RBI. Clark is hitting .407 (11-for-27) in his last seven games with four doubles, four homers and nine RBI.
The LSU pitching staff is No. 3 in the SEC and No. 27 in the NCAA with a 3.88 cumulative ERA, and the Tigers’ ERA during the nine-game win streak is a stingy 3.32.
The LSU staff is No. 13 in the nation in walks allowed per nine innings (2.9).
Senior right-hander Jared Bradford, the Tigers’ closer, is 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA and two saves in his last four appearances. Bradford has allowed one earned run on 10 hits in his last 11 innings with three walks and 10 strikeouts.
Bradford was named SEC Pitcher of the Week on Monday after recording a win and two saves versus Kentucky last weekend.
Freshman right-hander Daniel Bradshaw is 3-0 with a 0.60 ERA in his last four appearances, including one start. Bradshaw has given up just one earned run on seven hits in his last 15 innings with no walks and 17 strikeouts.
Mississippi State, which advanced to the College World Series last season, is hitting .289 as a team with 47 home runs. The Bulldogs feature one of the nation’s top closers in junior right-hander Aaron Weatherford, who is 2-0 with a 0.36 ERA and six saves in 14 appearances. In 25.1 innings this season, Weatherford has allowed just one earned run on six hits with seven walks and 51 strikeouts.
Mississippi State leads the all-time series with LSU, 193-159-1, though the Tigers have a 14-13 lead in the 27 meetings this decade. The Tigers have won 10 of the last 16 games between the clubs, including a 2-1 series victory last season in Starkville.
Neither team has recorded a sweep in the series since 1992, when LSU won all three games in Alex Box Stadium over the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State Bulldogs (20-29, 7-17) at LSU Fighting Tigers (32-16-1, 12-11-1)
Friday, May 9 – 7 p. m. CT
Saturday, May 10 – 3 p.m. CT
Sunday, May 11 – 1 p.m. CT
Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. (7,760)
LSU is ranked No. 22 by Baseball America and USA Today/ESPN, and No. 23 by Collegiate Baseball
LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates
The Baton Rouge affiliate is WDGL 98.1 FM
www.LSUsports.net – live video, audio and stats
Friday – Cox Sports Television (Cable Ch. 37 in Baton Rouge)
Saturday – Fox Sports Net (Cable Ch. 38 in Baton Rouge)
Sunday – Cox Sports Television (Cable Ch. 37 in Baton Rouge)
- Mike VI Pregame Appearance
- Alex Box Stadium Countdown: Mississippi State Coach Ron Polk
- All Alex Box Team - Omaha Era outfielders announced
- Post game Fireworks
- Final Season Prize Bonanza: Enter to win great raffle prizes with the purchase of a hot dog/big gulp combo at any concession stand. Friday’s Prize: Free Cox Digital Cable for a year
- Senior Day Pregame Ceremony
- Commemorative Alex Box Stadium Panoramic Poster Post-game Giveaway: All fans will receive a commemorative poster following the game. Distribution will take place in the parking lot behind the Intimidator billboard
- Alex Box Stadium Countdown: Paul Mainieri
- 1961 SEC Championship Team Recognition
- All Alex Box Team - Omaha Era catchers and infielders announced
- Final Season Prize Bonanza: Enter to win great raffle prizes with the purchase of a hot dog/big gulp combo at any concession stand. Saturday’s Prize: Large Cajun Microwave from Cajun Microwaves
- Alex Box Stadium Countdown: Skip Bertman
- All Alex Box Team - Omaha Era pitchers announced
- Postgame Alex Box Stadium Tribute Ceremony
- Final Season Prize Bonanza: Enter to win great raffle prizes with the purchase of a hot dog/big gulp combo at any concession stand. Sunday’s Prize: Two round trip airline tickets valid for travel within the 48 contiguous states, Alaska, Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean from Delta Airlines
- Raising Cane’s “Cane’s Challenge”: If LSU scores 3 or more runs, bring your game ticket to a Raising Cane’s to receive a free Box Combo with the purchase of a Box Combo good thru the close of business on Monday, May 12, 2008.
(due to the Alex Box Stadium post-game tribute, there will be no running of the bases following this game)
Mississippi State leads the series, 193-159-1 (the teams first met in 1905)
LSU – Jr. LHP Ryan Verdugo (7-2, 2.86 ERA, 66.0 IP, 24 BB, 55 SO)
MSU – Jr. RHP Chad Crosswhite (2-4, 9.33 ERA, 45.1 IP, 24 BB, 26 SO)
LSU – Jr. LHP Blake Martin (3-3, 5.05 ERA, 62.1 IP, 27 BB, 62 SO)
MSU – So. RHP Ricky Bowen (3-5, 6.79 ERA, 63.2 IP, 36 BB, 52 SO)
LSU – TBA
MSU – Sr. LHP Justin Pigott (2-2, 4.42 ERA, 38.2 IP, 11 BB, 37 SO)