College : : Story
Thursday, May 30, 2013

Baton Rouge Regional preview

Kendall Rogers        


Team Conference Record Berth Last NCAA appearance
1. LSU Southeastern 52-9 Automatic 2012
2. Louisiana-Lafayette Sun Belt 41-18 At-large 2010
3. Sam Houston State Southland 37-20 At-large 2012
4. Jackson State SWAC 34-20 Automatic 2000
1. LSU
2. La.-Lafayette  


4. Jackson St.
It would be considered a monumental surprise if the Tigers don't take care of business this weekend. LSU played an exceptional brand of baseball last week in the Southeastern Conference tournament with several players rising to the occasion. LSU should get second baseman JaCoby Jones back from injury this weekend, allowing Mason Katz to slide back to first base. Speaking of Katz, he's hitting .377 with 12 doubles, 14 homers and 64 RBIs this season, while freshman shortstop Alex Bregman is an advanced player with a team-best .378 average, 16 doubles, five homers and 49 RBIs. Also keep an eye on third baseman Christian Ibarra and outfielder Raph Rhymes. Ibarra isn't the prospect some other guys on this roster are, but he's got a compact frame with some pop and has a .335 average, six homers and 37 RBIs, while Rhymes is hitting .335 with four homers and 43 RBIs. On the mound, junior right-handed pitcher Ryan Eades is coming off an impressive performance last week, where he was consistently 92-94 with his fastball, while sophomore righty Aaron Nola, another 90-plus arm part of the LSU arsenal enters the weekend with a 2.69 ERA in 93 2/3 innings. Cody Glenn isn't a power arm, but has very good command and a 2.41 ERA in 82 innings. Bullpen-wise, the Tigers certainly have plenty of options, but keep a close eye on talented left-hander Chris Cotton, who has filthy stuff and a 1.38 ERA along with 15 saves in 33 appearances.
Think Louisiana-Lafayette would love nothing more than to derail LSU's possible magical season? Though some of the Ragin' Cajun arms must rise to the occasion, this team certainly has the bats to make things interesting in Baton Rouge this weekend. ULL is hitting .323 as a club entering the weekend with Dex Kjerstad leading the way, hitting .398 with 13 doubles, 12 homers and 43 RBIs. Also keep an eye on Tyler Girouard and Caleb Adams. Girouard has been an interesting story this season, as he's hitting .372 with seven homers and 37 RBIs, while Adams is hitting .341 with nine doubles, 14 homers and 51 RBIs. Seth Harrison, who has nine homers and 45 RBIs is another guy to watch, while the Cajuns as a whole have 72 homers. On the mound, right-handed pitcher Austin Robichaux gets into the 90s with his fastball and has a 3.20 ERA in 101 1/3 innings, along with 80 strikeouts and 21 walks, while Ryan Wilson (3.35, 78 IP) and Cody Boutte (5.27, 85 1/3 IP) must have strong weekends. Also keep an eye on solid reliever Matt Hicks, who has appeared in 28 games and has a 4.65 ERA in 40 2/3 innings.
Sam Houston State
Sam Houston State has a legitimate chance to make some noise in the Baton Rouge Regional this weekend. The Bearkats possess a very solid weekend rotation that includes left-handed pitchers Cody Dickson and Caleb Smith, as well as Tyler Eppler, who moved from a midweek role to the weekend rotation a few weeks ago. Dickson has a 90-plus fastball with good overall stuff and a 4.33 ERA in 89 1/3 innings, along with 87 strikeouts and 49 walks. Meanwhile, Smith has a 3.23 ERA in 86 1/3 innings, along with 68 strikeouts and 56 walks, while Eppler has been outstanding this season with a 3.41 ERA in 68 2/3 innings, along with 41 strikeouts and 18 walks. Bullpen-wise, Jason Simms is a very quality arm to watch. He's made 25 appearances this spring, tallying a 2.98 ERA and nine saves in 42 1/3 innings of work. Offensively, keep an eye on Kevin Miller, Carter Burgess and Anthony Azar. Miller is hitting a team-best .338 with two homers and 37 RBIs, Burgess is hitting .318 with 27 RBIs and Azar packs some serious power with five homers and 45 RBIs. Also from a power surge standpoint, keep an eye on Luke Plucheck, who has smacked eight homers and knocked in 40 runs. David Pierce's club has a chance to surprise this weekend.
Jackson State
Jackson State has a tough chore against LSU to open the Baton Rouge Regional, but it'll be interesting to see how its offense matches up with the rest of the field. The Tigers aren't a great hitting team, but they do hit .285 as a squad and have a ton of speed. For instance, the Tigers have six starters with more than 10 stolen bases this season. Additionally, Charles Tilery, who leads the team with a .344 average, a home run and 33 RBIs, is 25-for-30 in stolen bases this season. Also, Aneko Knowles, who's hitting just .271 with a home run and 19 RBIs, is 26-for-33 in stolen bases. Look for JSU to put LSU catcher Ty Ross to work in the opener on Friday. Pitching-wise, the Tigers have a 4.66 as a unit with Alexander Juday leading the way. Juday has appeared in 21 games and made nine starts, and has a 3.14 ERA in 111 2/3 innings, while the Tigers must rise up with not another starter with an ERA below five.
We said after the pairings were announced that LSU had a very favorable draw, and we certainly stand by that comment. The Tigers have a couple of solid teams in their NCAA Regional in Louisiana-Lafayette and Sam Houston State, but do either of those teams have the sheer depth to stay with the Tigers this weekend? That's the key question. ULL has issues on the mound at times after Austin Robichaux, while SHSU doesn't matchup very well with LSU from an offensive standpoint. Never say never, but things look pretty good for LSU this weekend.


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