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Little Big Red Machine: A look at Lamar

No.1 LSU will look to avoid an upset from the Cardinals, who have already upset Texas A&M earlier this year.

Former LSU catcher Will Davis has been Lamar’s head coach since 2017.

No.1 LSU (11-1) just came off a 4-game weekend where they scored 62 runs against Butler and Central Connecticut, including eight home runs. LSU’s biggest victory of the weekend came against Central Connecticut, in which the Tigers won 26-4.

Lamar (10-2) has been an absolute giant killer this season. The Cardinals upset then-No.5 Texas A&M 7-4 on the road and beat Kansas State 4-3 at home. Also of note, six of Lamar’s 10 wins have been won by one run. The Cardinals are 6-1 in one-run games this season.

Lamar’s head coach, Will Davis, has been at Lamar since 2017. Davis was a catcher at LSU from 2004-07, where he was a member of the 2004 College World Series team.

LSU and Lamar have squared off a total of 14 times with the Tigers leading the series 8-6. The two teams were scheduled to meet in Baton Rouge last season on April 12, but the game was rained out and there were no available make-up dates on the schedule. LSU and Lamar met on the diamond in eight straight seasons (2012-19), and the Tigers won seven of those contests. The Cardinals’ only win over LSU in the previous eight meetings came in 2016 in Beaumont, Texas when Lamar posted a 12-11 victory.

Lamar has a lot of veteran players and is one of the best defensive teams in the Southland Conference. The Cardinals have a fielding percentage of .980, which is second in the Southland. The Cardinals have only made nine errors in 456 chances.

“I have a lot of respect for (Lamar coach) Will Davis and his program. He does a great job,” LSU head coach Jay Johnson said. “I think he’s put that roster together about as well as you can. They have veteran players who are competitive and tough. They also use their pitchers the right way, so we’ve got a lot of preparation to do.”

What to expect on the mound

Lamar’s pitching staff is one of the best in the Southland as they have a 2.68 ERA, which is best for second in the Southland.

Lamar will most likely start its Friday ace Brooks Caple. It sounds unusual, but Caple pitched two shutout innings before being taken out. Lamar wants to get a victory tonight not only to beat the No.1 team in the country but also to help improve their RPI. Caple has a 2.84 ERA and has posted 11 hits, 12 strikeouts and only two walks.

Kole Tauzin is usually the first reliever that comes out of the bullpen. Tauzin is 2-0 on the year with seven strikeouts, and one walk and has not allowed a single run in seven innings pitched in the five games he has appeared in.

Either Daniel Cole and Foster Kreuzer come out of the bullpen in the sixth or seventh inning if the game is close. In five appearances, Cole has collected two saves and five strikeouts in six innings pitched. Kreuzer has appeared in five games as well and has recorded a 1-0 with 10 strikeouts in nine innings pitched.

Closer Jackson Cleveland is Lamar’s best reliever. Cleveland has a 2.00 ERA and is the team’s leader in wins and saves with three wins and three saves.

Cleveland is always used in late-game situations when the game is close as he has never come in with the Cardinals trailing. Cleveland always comes in when Lamar has the lead or when the game is tied.

What to Expect at the Plate

The weakest link of the Cardinals is their batting up as they only have two starters hitting .300. Lamar has only recorded 21 doubles and six home runs a

Center fielder Tanner Wilson leads his team in batting average with an average of .313 and has recorded three doubles. Wilson, who is Lamar’s leadoff hitter, has not recorded a home run or RBI this year at this point.

Right fielder Ben McNaughton is Lamar’s second-leading batter with a batting average of .308 and has posted a double and six RBIs. He is Lamar’s stolen base leader with eight stolen bases and has never been thrown out while stealing a base.

Lamar’s biggest threat at the plate is catcher Ryan Snell. Snell, who is on the Buster Posey Award watchlist, has recorded a .256 batting average along with six doubles, a triple, and six home runs, and is Lamar’s leader in RBIs with 11.

Left fielder Kevin Bermudez is another name to watch out for. Bermudez has batted .250 from the plate and has posted two doubles, a triple, two home runs and eight RBIs.