POSTED: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - 6:30pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - 6:34pm
BATON ROUGE, LA — Third-ranked LSU (18-2) begins a four-game homestand at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday when the Tigers play host to Northwestern State (9-13) in Alex Box Stadium.
The game can be heard on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (98.1 FM in Baton Rouge). Live video, audio and stats of the game may be accessed in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net .
The Tigers have won 12 of their past 13 games, including an SEC series victory last weekend at Mississippi State. LSU’s 18-2 record represents the Tigers’ best 20-game start since the 1997 club posted a 19-1 mark.
“We have a lot of respect for the Northwestern State program, and it’s important that we approach this game in the right way,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “They’re accustomed to facing very good competition; in fact, they’ve beaten Tulane and they’ve played Texas A&M, TCU and Oklahoma, so we’re expecting to see a tough team that will be ready to play here tomorrow.”
Mainieri said that freshman right-hander Russell Reynolds (0-0, 1.80 ERA) will make his second career collegiate start Wednesday against the Demons. First-year Northwestern State coach Lane Burroughs will counter with junior left-hander Cody Butler (1-1, 9.19 ERA).
LSU senior first baseman Mason Katz was named Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week and SEC Player of the Week Monday after leading LSU to the series victory at Mississippi State. Katz, a native of Harahan, La., batted .462 (6-for-13) to lead LSU to three wins in four games last week, including the SEC series win in Starkville.
Beginning with the Tigers’ March 9 game versus Washington, Katz homered seven times in five games and became the first LSU player to homer in five straight games since Brad Cresse accomplished the feat in 1998. Katz was 3-for-9 in the Mississippi State series with three homers, five RBI and four runs scored. He launched a pair of two-run homers in Friday night’s win over the Bulldogs, including the game-winning blast in the top of the 10th inning.
Katz is hitting .352 this season with four doubles, one triple, nine home runs and 32 RBI. He leads the SEC in home runs, RBI and total bases (58).
LSU freshman shortstop Alex Bregman is hitting .373 on the year with six doubles, two triples and two homers, and freshman outfielder Mark Laird is batting .361 with two doubles, six RBI and 17 runs.
Junior third baseman Christian Ibarra is batting .359 with four doubles, one homer and 14 RBI, while senior leftfielder Raph Rhymes is hitting .355 with six doubles and 14 RBI. Rhymes is the only LSU player to have reached base safely in all 20 games this season.
The Demons are led at the plate by senior outfielder/first baseman Will Watson, who is hitting .362 with three doubles, one triple, one homer and 13 RBI. Northwestern State is batting .245 as a team with four home runs and 18 steals in 24 attempts.
LSU leads the series with Northwestern State, 51-11, and the Tigers have won 13 of the past 14 meetings, including a 13-0 victory over the Demons last season (March 14) in Alex Box Stadium. The Demons’ only win in the past 14 games with LSU was a 5-2 victory on April 12, 2011 in Alex Box Stadium.