LSU will take on Kansas State in its first matchup at the Karbach Round Rock Classic at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas.
LSU leads the all-time series against the WIldcats, 11-8. The last time LSU and Kansas State met was in 2001, where the Tigers won two of three games over KSU in the 2001 season-opening series in Baton Rouge.
After the Tigers play Kansas State on Friday, they will go up against Iowa at noon on Saturday and Sam Houston State at 4 p.m. on Sunday to finish up their campaign in Round Rock.
“This trip will be important for our team. There are a lot of things that are great about it, and we’re going to play some great opponents,” LSU head coach Jay Johnson said. “We’ll be challenged, we’ll be tested, but I’m really excited to get out to Round Rock. It’s a beautiful ballpark; it’s a great venue, and I think this experience will be very beneficial for our team in a lot of ways.”
LSU will take on Kansas State at 2 p.m. on Friday. The game will be streamed live on D1Baseball.com on a pay-per-view basis.
What the Tigers Bring to the Table
One of LSU’s biggest strengths is its pitching staff, especially when your top gun is All-American Paul Skenes.
Skenes did not allow a single run in the six innings he pitched, allowing just three hits with one walk. He also struck out 12 batters, the most since April 15, 2021, when former LSU pitcher Landon Marceaux fanned 12 batters against South Carolina.
Skenes’ performance also marked the most strikeouts by an LSU pitcher in a season opener in 28 years, as Scott Schultz struck out 12 batters in 1995 in the Winn-Dixie Showdown at the Superdome in New Orleans in a victory over Lamar.
LSU’s No.1 reliever is Vanderbilt transfer Christian Jones. Little earned his first win as a Tiger after he entered the game in the third inning and fired 3.2 innings with six strikeouts, only allowing one hit.
Junior first baseman Tre’ Morgan became the first LSU player to hit for the cycle in 13 years on Tuesday in the Tigers’ win over Southern. Morgan hit for the cycle in order, as he was 4-for-5 at the plate with eight RBIs, which is Morgan’s career-high.
Morgan hit a single in the second inning, a double in the third, and a triple in the fifth before putting the cherry on top of the chocolate milkshake with a homer to right field in the sixth, officially completing the “natural” cycle.
Morgan is the first LSU player to hit for the cycle since April 6, 2010, when outfielder Mikie Mahtook accomplished the feat versus Alcorn State.
After missing most of last season due to nagging injuries, graduate second baseman Gavin Dugas returned in a big way. Dugas, who led LSU in home runs with 19 in 2021, batted .750 (6-for-8) with two homers, two RBIs and three runs during last weekend’s series against Western Michigan. Dugas also recorded a .778 on-base percentage and 1.500 slugging percentage.
Dugas’ best overall performance during the weekend was on Sunday, where he went 3-for-3 on the day with a home run and two runs scored to help lead LSU to victory over Western Michigan 9-1 on Sunday
LSU may have found its next biggest star in designated hitter Jared Jones. Jones, the 6-4, 230 pound true freshman, batted .500 (4-for-8) with two doubles, three RBI, four runs scored and a .750 slugging percentage in LSU’s opening weekend sweep over Western Michigan. Jones did a great job getting on-base as he was able to get walked three times and achieved a .636 on-base percentage.
Dugas and Jones are No.1 and No.2 in hits, batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.
Even though slugger Tommy White may be out this weekend, don’t be surprised if White reunites with his bash brother, center fielder Dylan Crews. WIth Kansas State’s weak pitching staff, the Bash Brothers could be making fireworks in Round Rock.
Kansas State was projected to finish second to last in the Big 12 by multiple publications including D1Baseball.com. The Wildcats finished 29-29 and fell short of the expectations in that they had set for themselves.
Last season, Kansas State’s pitching staff recorded a 5.84 ERA and had a conference-high 280 free passes behind the plate. They also lost three of their most frequently used pitchers: Connor McCullough, Blake Adams and Griffin Hassall. McCullough and Adams moved on from the program while Hassall had to get surgery on his rotator cuff and will be out for the whole 2023 campaign.
This season, they still are having problems with their pitching staff as it is still allowing an ERA of 4.91 and are experiencing problems with its starting pitching rotation. The starting rotation has an ERA of 10.38 ERA, which is as atrocious as unseasoned chicken.
The projected starter to go on the mound against LSU is left-handed pitcher Owen Boerema. Boerema was the Wildcats’ starter on opening night this past Friday. Although the transfer from Division III Northwestern (Minn.) struck out four batters in his debut, Boerema got rocked pretty hard. In three innings pitched, Boerema allowed five earned runs and five hits against Stephen F. Austin. The Lumberjacks also had a .385 batting average against Boerema. Boerema was given a non-decision in Kansas State’s 7-6 victory over Stephen F. Austin.
Although the Wildcats have issues with its starting rotation, Kansas State’s bullpen is what’s keeping them in games. One of the reasons why Kansas State’s ERA is 4.91 is because its bullpen has an ERA of 2.21.
The reliever who can stretch the game for Kansas State has been right hander Ty Ruhl. Ruhl has a 1.80 ERA and has recorded four strikeouts in five innings in his lone appearance against Stephen F. Austin on opening night on Feb. 17. Ruhl was credited with the win.
Shay Hurtis, a right hander who transferred in from Texas Tech, has not allowed a single run in two appearances for the Wildcats and has two strikeouts.
Right hander Tyson Neighbors is a walking strikeout machine. Neighbors leads his team in strikeouts with seven in 3.1 innings pitched. Neighbors also has recorded a win as well.
Right hander Blake Corsentino has posted an ERA of 2.25, four strikeouts and has recorded a save as well in two appearances for the Wildcats.
Kansas State’s batting line-up is pretty talented as the Wildcats have talented bats from top to bottom.
Preseason All-Big 12 shortstop Nick Goodwin is Kansas State’s most dangerous batter. Goodwin has two doubles, a homer, five RBIs and has recorded a batting average of .333
Kansas State’s lead-off man, outfielder Brendan Jones, leads his team in batting average with .400. He has 5 RBIs and and on-base percentage of .480.
Third baseman Kaelen Culpepper is a very talented hitter as well. Culpepper has posted a batting average of .316, two homers and 10 RBIs.
Although he is not the most efficient hitter in the world, left fielder Cole Johnson leads his team in both home runs and RBIs with three home runs and 11 RBIs respectively.
LSU Projected Starting Lineup
1B Tre Morgan
2B Gavin Dugas
SS Jordan Thompson
3B Ben Nippolt/Tommy White
RF Paxton Kling
CF Dylan Crews
LF Brayden Jobert
C Brady Neal
DH Jared Jones
Kansas State Projected Lineup
1B Roberto Pena
2B Brady Day
SS Nick Goodwin
3B Kaelen Culpepper
RF Cash Rugely
CF Brendan Jones
LF Cole Johnson
C Raphael Pelletier
DH Kyan Lodice
LSU – Jr. RH Paul Skenes (1-0, 0.00, ERA, 6.0 IP, 1 BB, 12 SO)
KSU – Sr. LH Owen Boerema (0-0, 15.00 ERA, 3.0 IP, 3 BB 4 SO)