LSU baseball in familiar territory

Published 10:11 am Friday, June 2, 2017

For the LSU baseball team, this weekend’s regionals are business as usual.

The Tigers (43-17) enter the postseason as a national seed for the sixth straight season, tying a record held by Stanford who accomplished it from 1999 to 2004, and hosting a regional for the 25th time in school history.

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“ I think probably about five or six weeks ago it was probably a far-fetched idea that we would even be a national seed,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said in a school release. “Our guys have played great over the last month, and I think we’ve earned it.”

The Tigers have been nearly unbeatable as of late having won 11 straight games including four dominant performances to claim the SEC tournament title. The late season hot streak earned them the No. 4 national seed behind No. 1 Oregon State, No. 2 North Carolina and No. 3 Florida.

“We’ve been able to get amazing starting pitching performances for our pitching staff,” LSU rightfielder Greg Deichmann said. “We’ve had some amazing bullpen performances. And we were able to hit throughout the week. We’re playing complete ball right now and that’s what we want to see moving forward. That’s what we’ve been able to display the past 15 games or so.”

The Tigers will be joined in the Baton Rogue Regional by No. 2 seed Southeastern Louisiana (36-20), No. 3 seed Rice (31-29) and No. 4 Texas Southern (20-32).

“Nobody thought Rice was going to be in the tournament this year, but they’ve made a miraculous run to win their conference tournament,” Mainieri said. “They’ve earned their way here. They’ll be a real confident team

“I’m not even worried about Rice or Southeastern, right now. We have to get through Texas Southern first.”

The Tigers will enter regional play as the clear favorites to advance to Super Regionals, which would also be hosted in Baton Rogue, but must work their way through the double elimination tournament first.

“One thing we’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter what the name on the chest for the other team is,” Mainieri said. “It might be a traditional power, and it might be a team you’ve never heard of, but every team is in the tournament because they’ve earned their way in either by winning a championship or playing well throughout the season.” 

LSU has been led on offense this season by Deichmann, a Golden Spikes Semifinalist and first team All-American. He has a .330 batting average and leads the team with 19 homeruns and 67 RBIs.

On the mound, the Tigers will look for strong performances from their starters Alex Lange (8-5), Jared Poché (10-3) and Eric Walker (7-1).

Southeastern Louisiana received an at large bid to the tournament after being eliminated in the Southland Conference tournament. 

Sophomore right-hander Corey Gaconi (6-5) will start on the mound for the Lions against Rice, who they defeated 12-4 in February.

Rice freshman right-hander Matt Canterino (5-4) will start the game for the Owls. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Texas Southern will open regionals against LSU on Friday at 2:30 p.m. They earned a tournament berth by defeating Alabama State for the SWAC Championship.