It is time once again to renew the oldest of LSU's rivalries (the first game of any sport ever played at LSU was a baseball game against Tulane in 1893, LSU won 10-8) in the one sport at which they remain competent. Tulane hosts round one of the home and home this year which means LSU will spend the night running around on that blasphemous carpet they call Greer Field at Turchin Stadium. Call it "Culture v Agriculture" all you want, Greenies. At least we've mastered what you must consider the most difficult art in the known universe: growing grass, outdoors, in South Louisiana.
Outdoor artificial surfaces ARE THE DEVIL'S WORK!
The Greenies themselves are off to a good start this year, unranked but sharing our 10-2 record and having a handful of lopsided victories on the board already. They've got a sweep of Indiana to their name along with a midweek blowout victory over a good SLU team and a 2 of 3 series win last weekend over SEC bottom dweller Alabama. Tulane is much improved hitting club so far this season after finishing last in the CUSA last year in BA, currently hitting 337/436/477 as a team without a bad bat anywhere in the lineup. Middleton, Schneeberger, and Boudreaux are the main threats. If there is a concern on offense it's that they do leave a fair amount of runners on base,107 through 12 games. Their bullpen has some fantastic relief performances (though against not great competition) and has racked up 4 saves on the year already. Starter Byo is probably good enough to join their weekend rotation and is coming off a 7 inning performance in the Greenies 12-1 win over SLU last week.
Meanwhile, LSU has finally sorted out some of it's offensive woes and leads the conference in runs, hits, doubles, and triples. Much of this can be attributed to Mason Katz, whose better-than-Ted-Williams streak of 17 consecutive times on base last week fell just one short of the NCAA record and earned him SEC and National Player of the Week honors. Katz's stat line is insane (500/596/950) and he's doing great honor to his handed down #8 jersey. As Poseur said on Monday, Mainieri has built a lineup with a powerful middle of the order that is going to rely on the big inning to get the job done.
On the mound tonight will be Nola the Younger in his second start and 5th appearance overall. Last time out @ McNeese, Nola managed 4 scoreless before giving up 3 runs and working himself out of trouble. That game turned into a 19-10 marathon, but i'd put more of the blame on the relief than anything. Speaking of the relief, it really has become a concern again this year, especially as we seem to be lacking a dominant closer once again. Nick Goody remains prefect, but with only 6 innings pitched in 5 appearances, it's hardly something to bet on just yet. As Tulane games always are, neither team is giving up until the final out. If LSU's bullpen has trouble again, it will cost us dearly.
UPDATE: It should be noted that FR RHP Carson Baranik, who was suspended on Feb 12 for a DWI, has rejoined the team this week. Eventually he'll be called out of the bullpen, but I highly doubt it would be tonight.
Mid Week Across the Country
In one of the odd pairings that is unique to college baseball, U of Miami is taking on the newly re-named Miami Marlins in the first game in the Marlin's new stadium, where some of the ridiculous decorations could pose a problem.
Bama is playing Auburn in Montgomery in their annual midweek game in Montgomery that doesn't count in the conference standings. It's extremely early in the season, but the loser of this game may very well not make the SEC tournament.
Centenary is at La Tech, and Gents pitcher Cole Thompson has been keeping an interesting blog about life in D3.
UF is hosting a good, but injured FAU squad and the rest of the conference is on cupcakes.
Nationally, Baylor is at TCU, Indy favorite Dallas Baptist is at Texas, CS-Fullerton is at SoCal, FSU is at a ranked UCF, and #4 Rice travels to lowly Texas State, who hasn't given up a run in 50 1/3 IP (!)
Weather: Low 60s and windy, no chance of rain
TV: YES, TV! LSU's first appearance on the tube this season is live on Cox Sports tonight.
LSU - Fr. RHP Aaron Nola (1-0, 3.60 ERA, 10.0 IP, 1 BB, 14 SO)
TU - Jr. RHP Alex Byo (1-1, 4.91 ERA, 11.0 IP, 5 BB, 4 SO)