Baseball takes on Auburn in first SEC road series

Baseball takes on Auburn in first SEC road series
Photo by Steve Franz, LSU Athletics Staff Photographer
Sports

POSTED: Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 4:15pm

UPDATED: Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 4:19pm

No. 8 LSU (17-4, 2-1 SEC) plays its first conference road series of the season this weekend when the Tigers travel to Auburn for three games at Plainsman Park.

Game 1 starts at 6 p.m. CT Friday, Game 2 begins 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, with Baton Rouge affiliate WDGL 98.1 FM serving as the flagship station. Live audio and stats of the game may be accessed in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live. None of the three games will be televised.

LSU, which has won 12 of its last 14 games, began conference play last weekend by winning two of three games versus Mississippi State in Alex Box Stadium. Auburn won two of three last weekend at Ole Miss.

"We're looking forward to our first SEC road trip of the season," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "It's a real team-building opportunity to face a quality opponent in a different environment and know that we only have each other to rely on. Auburn presents a lot of challenges for us with the style of game they play, and it should be a very competitive series throughout the weekend."

Mainieri said that sophomore right-hander Kevin Gausman (4-0, 1.25 ERA) will start Friday's game for the Tigers, followed by sophomore right-hander Ryan Eades (4-1, 1.95 ERA) on Saturday and freshman right-hander Aaron Nola (3-1, 3.12 ERA) on Sunday.

Gausman leads the SEC in innings pitched (36), and he is No. 2 in the league in strikeouts (42) and ERA (1.25) and No. 5 in opponent batting average (.188). Eades is No. 9 in the SEC in ERA (1.95) and Nola is No. 6 in the league in opponent batting average (.200).

Auburn coach John Pawlowski will counter with senior right-hander Derek Varnadore (1-2, 4.94 ERA) on Friday, sophomore left-hander Will Kendall (3-0, 1.69 ERA) on Saturday and freshman left-hander Daniel Koger (1-1, 2.05 ERA) on Sunday.

LSU junior rightfielder Raph Rhymes is the leading hitter in the SEC, batting .475 (38-for-80) with six doubles and 26 RBI. Senior third baseman Tyler Hanover is batting .365 with six doubles and 16 RBI, and junior first baseman Mason Katz is hitting .365 with eight doubles, one triple, four homers and 21 RBI.

LSU is ranked No. 2 in the SEC with a .313 team batting average. The Tigers have nine homers on the season and have recorded 15 steals in 23 attempts. The Tigers are No. 8 in the league with a 3.17 team ERA, and opponents are hitting .241 against the LSU pitching staff.

Auburn is led at the plate by sophomore outfielder Ryan Tella, who is batting .442 with five doubles, one triple and 13 RBI. Senior outfielder Creede Simpson is hitting .388 with seven doubles and 16 RBI, and sophomore infielder Dan Glevenyak is batting .342 with two doubles, one triple, one homer and 10 RBI.

Auburn is hitting .311 as a team with nine home runs and 57 stolen bases in 77 attempts. The Auburn pitching staff has a 3.42 ERA with a .244 opponent batting average. Auburn is ranked No. 3 in the SEC in batting average, No. 9 in ERA, and the Tigers lead the league in steals and sacrifice bunts (22).

"Obviously, we're going to have to be very cognizant of their 'small ball' approach," Mainieri said. "What's amazing is that they have recorded more stolen bases than every other team in the league has even attempted, so that's an area we'll have to focus upon."

LSU leads Auburn, 87-68,in a series that began in 1907. LSU has posted nine wins over Auburn in the last 13 games, including consecutive three-game sweeps in 2008 and 2009. Auburn, however, has recorded 2-1 series victories over LSU in each of the past two seasons. LSU has captured eight of the last 13 series between the clubs dating back to 1999.

#8 LSU Fighting Tigers (17-4, 2-1) at Auburn Tigers (13-8, 2-1)

DATES/TIMES
Friday, March 23 - 6 p.m. CT; Saturday, March 24 - 3 p.m. CT; Sunday, March 25 - 1 p.m. CT

STADIUM
Plainsman Park in Auburn, Ala.

RANKINGS
LSU - No. 8 by Collegiate Baseball; No. 11 by Baseball America; No. 13 by USA Today/ESPN
Auburn - unranked

RADIO
LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates
The Baton Rouge affiliate is WDGL 98.1 FM
Pregame show starts 15 minutes prior to first pitch

INTERNET
www.LSUsports.net - live audio and stats

TV
No TV

SERIES RECORD
LSU leads Auburn, 87-68,in a series that began in 1907. LSU has posted nine wins over Auburn in the last 13 games, including consecutive three-game sweeps in 2008 and 2009. Auburn, however, has recorded 2-1 series victories over LSU in each of the past two seasons. LSU has captured eight of the last 13 series between the clubs dating back to 1999.

PITCHING MATCHUPS
Game 1
LSU - So. RHP Kevin Gausman (4-0, 1.25 ERA, 36.0 IP, 6 BB, 42 SO)
AU - Sr. RHP Derek Varnadore (1-2, 4.94 ERA, 31.0 IP, 9 BB, 23 SO)

Game 2
LSU - So. RHP Ryan Eades (4-1, 1.95 ERA, 32.1 IP, 4 BB, 27 SO)
AU - So. LHP Will Kendall (3-0, 1.69 ERA, 21.1 IP, 6 BB, 13 SO)

Game 3
LSU - Fr. RHP Aaron Nola (3-1, 3.12 ERA, 26.0 IP, 3 BB, 29 SO)
AU - Fr. LHP Daniel Koger (1-1, 2.05 ERA, 30.2 IP, 12 BB, 20 SO)

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