Tigers Head to Lexington to Take on Wildcats in SEC Series

by LSUsports.net (@LSUsports)
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Tigers Head to Lexington to Take on Wildcats in SEC Series

BATON ROUGE — Fifth-ranked LSU (34-12, 12-9) returns to SEC action this weekend as the Tigers travel to Lexington to face Kentucky (20-23, 5-16) in a three-game SEC series at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

First pitch for Game 1 of the LSU-Kentucky series is 5:30 p.m. CDT Friday, Game 2 is set for 1 p.m. CDT Saturday and Game 3 will be played at Noon CDT Sunday.

The games can be heard statewide on the LSU Sports Network (WDGL-FM 98.1 in Baton Rouge). All three games can also be heard on the internet at www.LSUsports.net.

Sunday’s game will be televised by Jumbo Sports Network (Cable Ch. 13 in Baton Rouge). There is no live television coverage of the games on Friday and Saturday.

LSU trails first-place Arkansas (15-6) by three games in the SEC Western Division standings with nine games remaining in the conference regular season.

The Tigers won two of three games versus Alabama last weekend in Baton Rouge, as LSU has captured eight of its last nine SEC series over the past two seasons.

For the second straight week, LSU posted a series win over the team with the league’s best ERA. The Tigers won two of three at Tennessee (April 23-25) when the Volunteers had the SEC’s top ERA, and LSU defeated Alabama, which was No. 1 in the league in ERA entering last weekend’s play.

Kentucky is in sixth place in the SEC Eastern Division, and the Wildcats have lost four straight games, including a 9-6 decision versus Louisville Wednesday night. Kentucky was swept last weekend by Georgia in a three-game SEC series at Athens.

LSU coach Smoke Laval will send freshman left-hander Clay Dirks (8-1, 2.67 ERA) to the mound Friday, while first-year Kentucky coach John Cohen will counter with sophomore right-hander Kalen Gibson (4-3, 4.70 ERA).

Sophomore right-hander Justin Meier, LSU’s scheduled starter on Saturday, returned to the Tigers’ weekend rotation last weekend after a two-week absence, and he responded with a strong outing against Alabama in the Game 2 victory. Meier worked 7.2 innings, allowing just one run on eight hits with one walk and three strikeouts.

Designated hitter Nick Stavinoha helped lead LSU to wins in Games 2 and 3 against Alabama, batting .429 (3-for-7) with one double, one sacrifice fly and three RBI. Stavinoha’s two-out RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning lifted the Tigers to a 2-1 victory in Game 2 of the series.

Blake Gill, starting at shortstop for LSU for the first time in two weeks, sparked the Tigers to the Game 3 win over Bama, as he went 2-for-3 with a home run, his second this season. Gill, who has been bothered recently by a fractured finger on his glove hand, was perfect in the field over the weekend, posting seven assists and two put-outs without an error.

LSU leads the all-time series with Kentucky, 29-13, and this weekend’s series marks the teams’ first meeting since 2001, when the Tigers won two of three games in Baton Rouge.

LSU has won its last five series (1995, ’98, ’99, 2000, ’01) versus Kentucky, posting a 12-3 mark against the Wildcats during that span.

The Tigers have won five of their last six games played in Lexington, as LSU swept UK in 1998 and won two of three games in 2000.

UK last won a series over LSU in 1994, as the Wildcats won the first two games of the series in Lexington before Game 3 was rained out.

Laval faces Kentucky this weekend for the first time in his 10-year head coaching career, while Cohen, the head coach at Northwestern (La.) State from 1998-2001, has a 2-3 career mark against LSU.

SERIES FACTS
#5 LSU Fighting Tigers (34-12, 12-9) at Kentucky Wildcats (20-23, 5-16)

DATES/TIMES: May 7 – 5:30 p.m. CDT; May 8 – 1 p.m. CDT; May 9 – Noon CDT
STADIUM: Cliff Hagan Stadium (3,000)
RANKINGS: LSU (#5 Baseball America, #5 ESPN/Sports Weekly, #5 Collegiate Baseball); Kentucky (unranked)
RADIO: statewide on LSU Sports Network (WDGL-FM 98.1 in Baton Rouge)
INTERNET: www.LSUsports.net
TV: No TV on Friday or Saturday; Sunday’s game will be telecast live by Jumbo Sports Network (Cable Ch. 13 in Baton Rouge)

PITCHING MATCHUPS
Game 1
LSU – Fr. LHP Clay Dirks (8-1, 2.67 ERA, 70.2 IP, 12 BB, 59 SO)
UK – So. RHP Kalen Gibson (4-3, 4.70 ERA, 67 IP, 33 BB, 56 SO)

Game 2
LSU – So. RHP Justin Meier (5-2, 3.23 ERA, 75.1 IP, 20 BB, 50 SO)
UK – Sr. RHP Seth Stanley (5-2, 5.59 ERA, 67.2 IP, 20 BB, 52 SO)

Game 3
LSU – Sr. RHP Nate Bumstead (7-2, 3.94 ERA, 61.2 IP, 12 BB, 28 SO)
UK – TBA