BATON ROUGE, La. – Top-ranked LSU (52-9), the NCAA Tournament No. 4 National Seed, faces Jackson State (34-20) at 2 p.m. Friday in the first round of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional in Alex Box Stadium
The game can be heard on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (98.1 FM in Baton Rouge) and free live audio and stats of the games may be accessed in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net.
LSU has ascended to the top of four different college baseball polls entering this week’s NCAA Tournament. The Tigers are ranked No. 1 by Collegiate Baseball, by USA Today, by Perfect Game and by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. LSU is No. 2 in this week’s Baseball America rankings.
The 2013 Tigers established a school record for most regular-season victories (48) and for most regular-season SEC wins (23). LSU’s 52 overall wins this season represent the most recorded in school history prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament. The 2013 club, which was also ranked No. 1 in April by Collegiate Baseball, is the fourth LSU team to earn the top ranking during the seven-season tenure of coach Paul Mainieri.
Mainieri said his team is prepared for the high expectations associated with the start of NCAA Tournament play.
“There is external and internal pressure. We have 12,000 people in our stands, a great administration and a really good alumni base that supports us,” Mainieri said. “There’s history and tradition in this program, which creates expectations, and I know that. I can tell you this, the pressure I put on myself and our team hasn’t changed since the first day I started coaching. We will win within the rules and do it the right way with good sportsmanship and respecting our opponents.
“Hopefully, these kids will grow as men because of winning and experiencing these expectations. I know now the real season begins and the regular season prepared us for that.”
LSU has the highest all-time NCAA Tournament winning percentage (127-49, .722), and the Tigers are appearing in the NCAA Tournament for the 26th time. LSU has an 80-19 mark in regional games, an 12-10 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). The 2013 Baton Rouge Regional is the 21st regional hosted by LSU - the Tigers are 70-14 in regional home games, and LSU has won 17 regional titles in Alex Box Stadium.
Junior right-hander Ryan Eades (8-1) will start Friday’s game on the mound for LSU, while Jackson State coach Omar Johnson, who directed JSU to the SWAC Tournament title, will counter with either sophomore right-hander Alexander Juday (7-4) or junior right-hander Desmond Russell (3-0).
“We want Ryan to go all nine innings,” Mainieri said. “We will probably extend him longer than we have all year because we need to save our bullpen. I hope we only play three games this weekend because there is a possibility to play five. You have to have as many arms as possible, and it’s the reason we are pitching Ryan first. We need him to pitch for as many innings as possible on that first day.”
LSU leads the all-time series with Jackson State, 4-0, including two wins over JSU in the first rounds of NCAA Regionals. LSU defeated Jackson State, 14-11, in the first round of the 1986 NCAA South I Regional in Alex Box Stadium, and LSU defeated Jackson State, 19-1, in the first round of the 2000 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional in Alex Box Stadium. LSU also posted wins over JSU in the 1985 and 1991 regular seasons in Alex Box Stadium by scores of 19-12 and 14-4, respectively.
Jackson State Tigers (34-20) vs. #1 LSU Fighting Tigers (52-9)
Friday, May 31 – 2 p.m. CT in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field (10,326)
If LSU wins, LSU plays the winner of the UL-Lafayette-Sam Houston State game at 7 p.m. CT Saturday; If LSU loses, LSU plays the loser of the UL-Lafayette-Sam Houston State game at 2 p.m. CT Saturday
LSU – No. 1 by Collegiate Baseball; No. 1 by USA Today; No. 1 by Perfect Game; No. 1 by NCBWA; No. 2 by Baseball America
LSU is the No. 4 National Seed in the NCAA Tournament and the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional
JSU – unranked
Jackson State is the No. 4 seed in the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional
LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates; Baton Rouge affiliate is WDGL 98.1 FM
LSUsports.net – free live audio and stats
ESPN3.com and WatchESPN.com – live video
LSU - Jr. RHP Ryan Eades (8-1, 2.69 ERA, 93.2 IP, 27 BB, 75 SO)
JSU – So. RHP Alexander Juday (7-4, 3.14 ERA, 111.2 IP, 35 BB, 60 SO or Jr. RHP Desmond Russell (3-0, 1.56 ERA, 40.1 IP, 14 BB, 43 SO)
The following is LSU’s 27-man active roster (alphabetical) for this week’s NCAA Baton Rouge Regional:
1. Michael Barash, C
2. Kevin Berry, RHP
3. Brent Bonvillain, LHP
4. Joey Bourgeois, RHP
5. Alex Bregman, SS
6. Chris Chinea, C
7. Chris Cotton, LHP
8. Ryan Eades, RHP
9. Alex Edward, OF
10. Jared Foster, OF
11. Nate Fury, RHP
12. Christian Ibarra, 3B
13. JaCoby Jones, 2B
14. Mason Katz, 1B
15. Mark Laird, OF
16. Will LaMarche, RHP
17. Kurt McCune, RHP
18. Sean McMullen, OF
19. Tyler Moore, INF
20. Hunter Newman, RHP
21. Aaron Nola, RHP
22. Raph Rhymes, OF
23. Ty Ross, C
24. Nick Rumbelow, RHP
25. Chris Sciambra, OF
26. Andrew Stevenson, OF
27. Casey Yocom, INF
NCAA Baton Rouge Regional
May 30, 2013
LSU Coach Paul Mainieri
On the expectations…
“There is external and internal pressure. We have 12,000 people in our stands, a great administration and a really good alumni base that supports us. There’s history and tradition in this program, which creates expectations, and I know that. I can tell you this, the pressure I put on myself and our team hasn’t changed since the first day I started coaching. We will win within the rules and do it the right way with good sportsmanship and respecting our opponents. Hopefully these kids will grow as men because of winning and experiencing these expectations. I know now the real season begins and the regular season prepared us for that.”
On JaCoby Jones and Mark Laird’s status…
“Jacoby is 100 percent ready to play this weekend and he’s practiced for three days now. He’s hitting balls over the bleachers, taking ground balls and running the bases, so he’s ready to go. Mark Laird is better than I thought he would be but he still has a little way to go. You won’t see him in the game tomorrow, but he might be available for limited action on Saturday and Sunday.”
On adjusting to the new bats…
“We now know what players we’ll need now because of the bats. You’ll need left-handed hitters, speed guys and then guys who can handle the bat. You can’t recruit them quickly enough to make change the right way. I knew if we would get through the last couple years and make the right adjustments we would get to this point. We were pretty good last year and almost made it to Omaha. I thought we did a pretty good job although we had some weaknesses. This year we fixed those weaknesses.”
On starting Ryan Eades on Friday …
“We want him to go all nine innings. We will probably extend him longer than we have all year because we need to save our bullpen. I hope we only play three games this weekend because there is a possibility to play five. You have to have as many arms as possible and it’s the reason we are pitching Ryan first. We need him to pitch for as many innings as possible on that first night.”
On the team’s defensive play…
“I’ve always believed in defense but because the game was so offensive you sometimes had to sacrifice a couple of spots in the field. Now that it is a different style of game, I don’t think you have to sacrifice defense anywhere on the field. Raph Rhymes has made himself into a pretty good outfielder. We have two other good guys in center and right. In our infield, all four were named All-SEC. Because of the focus on defense, the pitcher is able to be much more aggressive now instead of trying to strike out every batter.”
LSU PLAYER QUOTES
OF Raph Rhymes
On how it feels to have one last chance to get to Omaha...
“I’m looking at it as an opportunity to get to Omaha. I’m excited to be on this team with these guys and to get the chance to do it with them. For the seniors, it’s our last chance. We are going to give it everything we’ve got.”
On the loss to Stony Brook in the Super Regionals last season...
“I don’t really think about it. You can always go back to the feeling you had, losing that game. But I don’t like to go back to it. It’s a new year. It’s another opportunity to get to Omaha.”
On Jackson State and the challenges they present...
“I know they like to run – they are a running team. It puts pressure on the defense any time a team likes to steal or run a lot. I know they are going to come in here and battle. The thing about the postseason is you throw all the records out the window. It’s a new season. It doesn’t matter what you did in the past. I look for a very competitive game and we are going to be ready.”
On whether they will try to stretch some plays and try to test his arm...
“Absolutely. Any time a team likes to run, they are going to try to take an extra base any way they can. Dirt balls, balls in the outfield, any way they can advance a base they are going to try to do that.”
On what Coach Paul Mainieri has been telling the outfield...
“Stick to what we know. Hit the cut-off man. Play fundamentally out there and we’ll be alright.”
On if the team has to change their mindset for Regionals or approaches it the same as the regular season...
“You’ve got to approach it the same way. All year we’ve said you have to take it one game at a time. You have to go about it the same way in the postseason. You can’t overlook any opponent. You have to take it one game at a time.”
1B Mason Katz
On the SEC Tournament and the Championship game...
“That was a fun tournament. We took the tough road – we lost a game and had to play an extra one. But that makes it more fun. It’s a tough time. Then we got the matchup everybody wanted – one vs. two. Us versus Vanderbilt. It was a fun game. That’s how one versus two is supposed to be. Ten innings, battle it out. It’s not supposed to be a blowout. So that was a fun tournament. We did what we wanted to do. We wanted to go and win. We had no thought of going in there and just kind of preparing for the NCAA Tournament. We wanted to go in there and win. So we did everything we wanted to do, and I think that prepared us tremendously for this week.”
On coming back and winning three straight after losing in the SEC Tournament...
“That was big for us. You never know if that’s going to happen in the postseason. It could happen this week or it could happen in Omaha or in Super Regionals. So that’s something that helped us out too. Everything that happened I think happened for a reason. We had to learn from mistakes and find a way to come back and win it.”
On how the team is approaching the NCAA Tournament...
“We approach it the same way we approach the regular season. We take it one game at a time. At this point you just survive and advance. Just keep moving forward. You can’t treat it any different way. There’s no reason for us to treat it different than the regular season. We won 52 games in the regular season. That doesn’t mean anything now; it just means we had the right approach during that season. So there’s no reason to change that now. Just keep going forward and don’t lose two in the weekend and you are doing something right.”
RHP Ryan Eades
On learning from last year...
“I think just last year we learned that, not that we took anyone for granted, but just that you can’t sleep on anyone. You’ve got to come ready to play every day – even a team like Stony Brook. They had a great record. We obviously knew what they were capable of, but they just kind of came in here and just beat us. They outplayed us. We just have to be ready to play every day. Anyone can be beaten on any given day.”
On moving past last year...
“It was a tough pill to swallow at first. But as time went on and we got back to work in the fall this year, we just kind of put it behind us. I don’t think we can sit here and dwell on that. It wouldn’t do us any good. But just putting it past us and working towards our goal this year.”
On the difficulty of moving past last year with everyone else talking about it...
“It’s obviously something we’ll never forget. But it’s over with. What’s in the past is in the past and we can’t do anything about it now. But we learned from it and plan on taking it into the postseason. We will take it one game at a time and give it everything we’ve got.”
On whether the heat will bother him...
“No, I’ll be fine. Just get some rest and eat well and stay hydrated. I think that’s the key. But I’m looking forward to it.”
On how many innings he will try to play...
“I try to take that upon myself each start. I try to go as deeply into the ball game as I can. What [pitching coach Alan Dunn] kind of preaches to the starting pitchers is we aren’t going out there to pitch five innings – we are going out there to pitch nine. Whether or not that happens every time, the game will dictate that and he’ll make that call. We are just going to go out there and go as deep as we can. When they take the ball from us, that’s it. But we just want to go deep into the ball game and save our bullpen.”
On their mental approach to the game and not looking too far ahead...
“Omaha is our goal. But just staying loose and just having fun. That’s what it’s all about, just having fun and doing the little things right. Going out there and competing and giving it everything you have – just taking it one game at a time. We’re not looking at Omaha right now because we aren’t going to Omaha if we win tomorrow. We’ve got to take it one game at a time and just have fun.”