After pulling the weekend upset of the Hogs, LSU’s postseason fortunes are looking up, though still not on entirely solid ground. While LSU is in a good position now to earn a postseason bid, any chance of hosting is practically gone, short of a miracle run in Hoover at the end of the month. The series win certainly didn’t hurt LSU’s resume, but the Tigers remain unranked nationally and their NCAA RPI is now just inside the Top 50. The albatross of LSU’s abysmal 3-12 road record is going to take a lot to overcome.
The good news is that the pitching situation seems to finally be improving. The choice to start AJ Labas on Sunday proved to be correct and his stellar performance earned him SEC Freshman of the week honors. On top of that, Nick Storz did well in his simulated game last weekend and will possibly see some limited action tonight. Jr. RH Caleb Gilbert (3-4, 5.36 ERA, 47.0 IP, 11 BB, 35 SO) is getting the start tonight against McNeese’s Sr. RH Tyler Wesley (3-3, 4.75 ERA, 53.0 IP, 16 BB, 47 SO), with the hope being that Gilbert can rebound from his recent poor outings, though it sounds like Coach Mainieri will have him on a pretty short leash.
McNeese (22-26, 15-12 in Southland) is sitting around the middle of the Southland standings. They have some impressive early-season midweek upsets at home against Miss St. and Houston, but not much else to speak of. While LSU dominates the all-time series as they do with most in-state opponents, the Cowboys actually have a winning streak going against LSU, including a 7-0 shutout in Baton Rouge in 2016. From LSU:
QUOTING PAUL MAINIERI “McNeese has beaten us two years in a row, so I won’t have any trouble getting the attention of our players (McNeese coach) Justin Hill has done a tremendous job there, and they have some very talented players. I’m sure they’re going to come after us with everything that they’ve got, so it’s going to be a significant challenge for us. Our guys are excited about it; we’re in our last eight games of the regular season, and we need to play well and get the job done on the field.”
• McNeese is hitting .257 as a team this season with 37 home runs and 51 steals in 76 attempts. The Cowboys pitching staff has a 5.15 ERA.
• Senior infielder Joe Provenzano leads the Cowboys at the plate, batting .309 with 11 doubles, one triple, four homers and 24 RBI. Junior infielder Carson Maxwell has five homers and a team-best 32 RBI, and junior outfielder Shane Selman paces McNeese with eight home runs this season.
• McNeese is coached by former LSU pitcher Justin Hill, who played for the Tigers in 2001 and 2002. Hill, the 2017 Southland Conference Coach of the Year, is in his fifth season as the Cowboys head coach.