BATON ROUGE, La. - Top-ranked LSU (46-16) opens NCAA Baton Rouge Super Regional action at 11 a.m. CT Friday when the Tigers meet Stony Brook (50-12) in Alex Box Stadium.
Game 2 of the Super Regional is set for 11 a.m. on Saturday, and Game 3 (if necessary) will start at 12 p.m. Sunday. The winner of the best two-of-three series advances to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
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, and live video may be viewed at www.ESPN3.com.
All Super Regional games will be televised on ESPN2.
LSU has the highest all-time NCAA Tournament winning percentage (126-47, .728), and the Tigers are appearing in the NCAA Tournament for the 25th time. LSU has an 80-19 mark in regional games, an 11-8 record in super regional games and a 35-20 mark in the College World Series. The Tigers have won 19 regional titles, five super regional titles and six College World Series championships (1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2009).
This weekend's Super Regional marks the first meeting between LSU and Stony Brook. LSU is participating in a Super Regional for the ninth time - the Tigers have won all of five of their previous home Super Regionals (vs. UCLA, Baylor, Texas A&M, UC Irvine and Rice) and lost their three Super Regionals on the road (at Alabama, at Tulane, at Rice). LSU is seeking its 16th College World Series appearance and its third in the past five seasons.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri, who directed the Tigers to the 2009 national championship, said his club will be facing an outstanding opponent in Stony Brook, the only team in the nation with 50 wins.
"Their lineup is absolutely legit," Maineri said. "And their pitching is quality pitching. They might as well take the shirt off and put the name Florida across the front, or Texas, or Ole Miss, or UCLA. This team is legit and our players know that. I don't have to keep reminding them of it because they know it. We're going to have to play our very best to beat these guys."
Mainieri said that freshman right-hander Aaron Nola (7-4, 3.66 ERA) will start Friday's game on the mound for LSU
"Aaron Nola, as I've mentioned many times, is not your typical freshman," Mainieri said. "He is inordinately composed and poised and confident - he's a tremendous talent. He's had a great year and our team has an awful lot of confidence in him. So we have no qualms at all with going with him in Game 1. And he's going to come out and he's going to fill that strike zone up and he's going to let his defense help him."
Stony Brook coach Matt Senk will counter on Friday with sophomore right-hander Brandon McNitt (8-3, 2.69 ERA)
LSU junior leftfielder Raph Rhymes, the 2012 SEC Player of the Year and a first-team all-American, leads the nation in batting average, hitting .452 (99-for-219) with 11 doubles, four homers and 52 RBI. Rhymes is hitting .568 (42-for-74) this season with runners in scoring position, and he batted .458 in SEC regular-season games. Rhymes is one of three semifinalists for the Dick Howser Award, presented to the nation's outstanding collegiate player.
Junior RF/1B Mason Katz is a second-team all-SEC selection for the second straight season. Katz, batting .323 on the year, is LSU's leader in home runs (11), and runs scored (63). Katz completed the regular season in the Top 10 of six different SEC offensive categories. Katz was named to the SEC All-Tournament Team after hitting .357 (5-for-14) in three games with two RBI and three runs scored.
Senior shortstop Austin Nola is batting .313 for the Tigers with a team-high 16 doubles, one triple, four homers and 42 RBI. Nola was named last weekend the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional, as he hit .400 in three games with one double, one triple, four RBI and three runs.
Stony Brook, champion of the America East Conference, is batting .336 as a team with 34 homers and 93 stolen bases in 127 attempts. The Seawolves are led at the plate by centerfielder Travis Jankowski, who is hitting .417 with 17 doubles, 10 triples, five homers and 46 RBI. Third baseman William Carmona is batting .393 with 23 doubles, seven triples, 12 homers and 70 RBI, while infielder Maxx Tissenbaum is hitting .390 with 18 doubles, one triple, three homers and 48 RBI.
NCAA Baton Rouge Super Regional
Stony Brook Seawolves (50-12) vs. LSU Fighting Tigers (46-16)
Friday, June 8 - 11 a.m. CT; Saturday, June 9 - 11 a.m. CT; Sunday, June 10 - 12 p.m. CT (if necessary)
Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. (10,326)
LSU - No. 1 by Collegiate Baseball; No. 7 NCAA National Seed
SBU - No. 16 by Collegiate Baseball
LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates
The Baton Rouge affiliate is WDGL 98.1 FM
Pregame show starts 30 minutes prior to first pitch
www.LSUsports.net - live audio and stats
www.ESPN3.com - live video
LSU - Fr. RHP Aaron Nola (7-4, 3.66 ERA, 83.2 IP, 7 BB, 83 SO)
SBU - So. RHP Brandon McNitt (8-3, 2.69 ERA, 93.2 IP, 22 BB, 58 SO)
LSU - So. RHP Kevin Gausman (11-1, 2.72 ERA, 115.2 IP, 27 BB, 128 SO)
SBU - Sr. RHP Tyler Johnson (11-1, 2.13 ERA, 88.2 IP, 21 BB, 47 SO)
Game 3 (if necessary)
LSU - So. RHP Ryan Eades (5-2, 3.55 ERA, 91.1 IP, 27 BB, 61 SO)
SBU - TBA
2012 NCAA Baseball Super Regional
June 7, 2012
On the experience Aaron Nola gained from pitching in last weekend's regional...
"I hope that that experience will serve him well. But not only that game, but also the first game at the SEC tournament. All of it has been done with the hopes of getting to this point. Aaron Nola, as I've mentioned many times, is not your typical freshman. He is inordinately composed and poised and confident - he's a tremendous talent. He's had a great year and our team has an awful lot of confidence in him. And he's got a pretty decent chance to be our number one starter next year - he and [Ryan] Eades will battle out for that role. So we have no qualms at all with going with [Aaron Nola] in game one. And he's going to come out and he's going to fill that strike zone up and he's going to let his defense help him. And we like the idea after 129 pitches last weekend of giving [Kevin] Gausman a little rest so that he can go on Saturday. I don't know what [Stony Brook's] rotation is, but I'm just surmising that they will not go with their number one starter tomorrow with as much as he threw last weekend and only being on three days rest."
On his thoughts about Stony Brook...
"A lot of people in this area maybe don't know a lot about Stony Brook, but if you grew up involved in college baseball intimately like I am and the players are, then you'll know a lot about them. When I as a coach stand in front of our players and say that this team is really good, they may not know if I'm just trying to inspire or motivate them, or whatever. But I didn't have to do that because the players on our team, the ones that played in the Cape Cod League last summer, they told their teammates how good these kids are from Stony Brook because our players either played with them or played against them last summer. And they could vouch for how good of players these kids are from Stony Brook. This is a legitimate team. This is an SEC-caliber team - I kid you not. They had seven players drafted in the draft. We had five. They had five players drafted in the first 12 rounds. I talked to a major league executive the other day and he told me that he thought [Stony Brook's] leadoff hitter [Travis Jankowski] will be leading off for a major league team within a couple of years. Their catcher, [Pat] Cantwell, caught [Ryan] Eades, and [Ryan] Eades told me he's outstanding. The other guys on their team are all solid players. Their lineup is absolutely legit. And their pitching is quality pitching. They might as well take that shirt off and put the name Florida across the front, or Texas, or Ole Miss, or UCLA. This team is legit and our players know that. I don't have to keep reminding them of it because they know it. We're going to have to play our very best to beat these guys."
First Baseman Mason Katz
On playing Stony Brook ...
"On the outside is it difficult because everyone watching the game across the country who are not fans of either team are going to cheer for the underdog. Then there are the fans that expect us to win because they are a four seed. Outside of the team no one really knows, but we understand how good of a team they really are. We have gotten to play against a lot of their guys in summer ball and we have seen their season. Their numbers are outrageous. For us, we understand who is coming in here. They are an SEC-caliber team, they really are. A lot of people do not understand that. We understand what we have to do and we do not play for other people's opinions. We play for our goal and we are going to play as hard as we would against anybody."
Shortstop Austin Nola
On playing in the Super Regional ...
"It is two very good ball clubs and every team in the postseason right now is good. There are no letdowns and everyone is going to come and give you their best because your season is on the line. There is nothing after this if you lose. You are doing everything you can to win, whatever it takes. That is what makes baseball fun."
STONY BROOK HEAD COACH MATT SENK
On the Opportunity to Play LSU ...
"We are obviously very excited to be here. It is a tremendous opportunity and an incredible challenge. With the tradition and history of LSU Baseball, if you're going to make it to a Super Regional I guess Alex Box Stadium is the place to come to."
On Playing in Front of a Large Crowd...
"I would like to think that coming off of what we did in Coral Gables that the guys will respond in the same fashion. It is going to be very different than any other regional we have been in before. We'll see, but based on how resilient they were last weekend and how focused they were I think we are going to be okay."
On pitchers Tyler Johnson and Brandon McNitt...
"I think Tyler Johnson will be ready to go. He did an unbelievable job getting us here. From the fourth inning on last weekend, he was throwing better than he had started out. We think that Tyler will be good to go. I know he's excited to get out there. Brandon McNitt and Tyler are very similar pitchers. They do a great job working both sides of the plate. We pitch to contact so that we can let the defense do the work for them. We feel like Brandon and Tyler will do a great job for us."
On Stony Brook's Offensive Approach...
"We just try to put the ball in play as much as we can. When you put the ball in play, good things are going to happen. We want to get our opponents' pitch count up, especially with the outstanding starting pitching that LSU has. Hopefully if we can get guys' pitch count up, we can maybe get into a bullpen. I'm not saying that is going to be easy for us, but it is an approach that has worked for us."
On Stony Brook Welcoming the Challenge of Playing Power Traditional Teams Like Miami and LSU...
"I think they have embraced it completely. It is an unbelievable opportunity and challenge for us. It's great for us to have the opportunity to play some of the storied programs in college baseball. This is everything you want when you decide you want to play Division 1 baseball."
Stony Brook Player Quotes
CF TRAVIS JANKOWSKI
On being in the super regional...
"We are pretty excited. A bunch of us have never done this. We have a hostile environment coming in and we are excited to embrace it. We are the underdogs for sure. I feel like a lot of people cheer for the underdog, they want to see a good story."
On the Stony Brook season so far...
"We had won close to 50 games (coming into the NCAA Tournament) and now we are at 50. We had a very good preseason schedule, we played Kansas and Minnesota. We have played with the big teams and we can compete with them."
On Stony Brook's approach...
"We have a great strength guy who gets us bigger, faster and stronger. Our coaches know the game better than anyone in the world. They teach us the fundamentals and we go over them every day. We just come out and play our game."
RHP BRANDON McNITT
On playing LSU...
"To get this far when you were not expected to go past the regional is a great feeling. We look forward to coming out and playing in front of a big crowd. The atmosphere is going to be intense. We never really played in a place like (Alex Box Stadium) before. We played in the Metrodome (Minneapolis), but that was not as full as this is going to be. It's a great privilege to play against these great programs. We are still going to show up and play baseball our way. It is going to be new, but we are going to try and use it to our advantage. It will be fun."
On his approach...
"I'm just going to keep doing what I do. Keep pounding the zone. Go right after all of them. It doesn't matter who is up, I'm just going to play my game."
On Stony Brook's expectations coming into the season...
"Preseason, everybody knew we were a good team. We had preseason All-Americans and guys who played in the Cape-Cod League. People knew we were a good team. We struggled at the beginning, but we got back on the right track."
On being a No. 4 seed...
"It was expected. Our schedule wasn't the hardest and our conference isn't the most difficult. Being a No. 4 seed is no big deal. We took it to our advantage because now we have nothing to lose. We are just going to play our hardest and give them all we've got."