No. 2 Baseball Opens 2015 with Kansas Series

by Bill Franques
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No. 2 Baseball Opens 2015 with Kansas Series

BATON ROUGE, La. — Second-ranked LSU opens the 2015 season at 7 p.m. CT Friday when the Tigers meet Kansas in Game 1 of a three-game series in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.

Game 2 will begin at 2 p.m. CT Saturday, and first pitch for Game 3 is set for 1 p.m. CT Sunday.

The games can be heard on affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network, including Baton Rouge flagship WDGL-FM 98.1 FM, on Friday and Sunday. Saturday’s game will be carried in Baton Rouge only on WTGE-FM 100.7.

All three games may viewed live online on SEC Network +, accessible at SECNetwork.com and the WatchESPN app.

Live audio of the games may be accessed at www.LSUsports.net/live.

LSU, which leads the nation with 150 wins over the past three season, was 46-16-1 in 2014 and earned the NCAA Tournament No. 8 National Seed, marking the third straight year in which the Tigers received a National Seed designation.

Kansas, coached by Ritch Price, posted a 35-26 (15-9 in Big 12) record last season and advanced to the NCAA Louisville Regional.

The 2015 LSU roster features 20 lettermen, including 11 position players with starting experience and eight pitchers that have recorded innings for the Tigers. The LSU veterans are complemented by a talented class of 11 newcomers, rated No. 1 in the nation this fall by Collegiate Baseball, Perfect Game and Baseball America in their annual recruiting rankings.

“I feel great about our team,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri, entering his ninth season at LSU. “We have a lot of experience, but I am equally excited about the young freshmen. These kids have the chance to be really fine players. We just don’t need them to play as much right away as we would have in years gone by. I think we will be solid with our position players. It is just the matter of these young pitchers becoming acclimated to this level.”

Mainieri said sophomore left-hander Jared Poche’ (9-3, 2.45 ERA in 2014), a Freshman All-American last season, will start Friday night’s game against the Jayhawks.

“I have complete confidence in Jared Poche’ and his ability to handle anything we ask him to do,” Mainieri said. “He was tremendous for us last season as a freshman, and he’s an even better pitcher heading into this season. We’re very excited to give him the ball on opening night. He’s a very talented and mature pitcher who has great stuff and outstanding poise on the mound.”

Hard-throwing, true freshman right-handers Alex Lange and Jake Godfrey will start on the mound for LSU on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

LSU has 11 returning position players with starting experience, led by Alex Bregman, a 2013 first-team All-America and All-SEC selection, who batted .316 (77-for-244) in 2014 with 16 doubles, six homers, 47 RBI and 12 stolen bases. The Albuquerque, N.M. native earned second-team all-SEC honors last season and finished the year with a flourish, batting .451 (23-for-51) in the Tigers’ last 12 games with six doubles, three homers, 16 RBI and 12 runs.

Bregman, a preseason All-American, was named earlier this week to the 50-man watch list for the 2015 Golden Spikes Award.

Kansas leads LSU, 5-4, in the all-time series between the schools, with the teams first meeting in 1990. The Jayhawks have won five of their past six meetings with the Tigers – KU swept three games in 2003 in the original Alex Box Stadium, and the Jayhawks won two of three games over LSU in 2010 in the New Alex Box Stadium.

Kansas Jayhawks (0-0) at #2 LSU Fighting Tigers (0-0)

DATES/TIMES
Friday, Feb. 13 – 7 p.m. CT
Saturday, Feb. 14 – 2 p.m. CT
Sunday, Feb. 15 – 1 p.m. CT

STADIUM
Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field (10,326) in Baton Rouge, La.

RANKINGS
LSU – No. 2 by Baseball America; No. 4 by USA Today; No. 4 by Collegiate Baseball
KU – unranked

RADIO
Friday and Sunday – LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates (WDGL 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge)
Saturday – WTGE 100.7 FM in Baton Rouge
LSUsports.net – live audio and live stats for all three games

ONLINE TELECAST
All three games may be viewed on SEC Network +, accessible at SECNetwork.com and the Watch ESPN app

SERIES RECORD
Kansas leads LSU, 5-4, in the all-time series between the schools, with the teams first meeting in 1990. The Jayhawks have won five of the past six meetings – KU swept three games from the Tigers in 2003 in the original Alex Box Stadium, and the Jayhawks won two of three games over LSU in 2010 in the New Alex Box Stadium.

PITCHING MATCHUPS
Game 1 (2014 statistics)
LSU – So. LHP Jared Poche’ (9-3, 2.45 ERA, 91.2 IP, 26 BB, 52 SO in 2014)
KU – Sr. RHP Drew Morovick (10-4, 5.00 ERA, 77.1 IP, 26 BB, 44 SO in 2014)

Game 2
LSU – Fr. RHP Alex Lange (first college appearance)
KU – Jr. LHP Ben Krauth (JUCO transfer)

Game 3
LSU – Fr. RHP Jake Godfrey (first college appearance)
KU – So. RHP Sean Rackoski (0-0, 10.80 ERA, 1.2 IP, 0 BB, 1 SO)

SEC Opening Weekend Schedule

Friday, February 13
11 a.m. CT, Kentucky vs. Ball State (Wilmington, N.C.) 
11 a.m. CT, Missouri vs. Iona (Cary, N.C.) [Game 1] 
3 p.m. CT, Binghamton at Auburn, SEC Network+
3 p.m. CT, College of Charleston at South Carolina, SEC Network+
3 p.m. CT, North Dakota at Arkansas, SEC Network+
3 p.m. CT, Missouri vs. Iona (Cary, N.C.) [Game 2] 
4 p.m. CT, Eastern Illinois at Georgia, SEC Network+
4 p.m. CT, William & Mary at Ole Miss, SEC Network+
4 p.m. CT, Cincinnati at Mississippi State, SEC Network+
4 p.m. CT, Santa Clara at Vanderbilt 
6 p.m. CT, Rhode Island at Florida 
6 p.m. CT, Tennessee at Florida International 
6:30 p.m. CT, Maryland-Eastern Shore at Alabama (Hoover, Ala.), SEC Network+
6:35 p.m. CT, Holy Cross at Texas A&M, SEC Network+
7 p.m. CT, Kansas at LSU, SEC Network+

Saturday, February 14
11 a.m. CT, Eastern Illinois at Georgia, SEC Network+
11 a.m. CT, Kentucky vs. Richmond (Wilmington, N.C.) 
12 p.m. CT, Miami (OH) at Mississippi State, SEC Network+
12 p.m. CT, Missouri at Iona (Cary, N.C.) [Game 1]
12 p.m. CT, College of Charleston at South Carolina, SEC Network+
1:05 p.m. CT, North Dakota at Arkansas 
1:30 p.m. CT, William & Mary at Ole Miss, SEC Network+
2 p.m. CT, Maryland-Eastern Shore at Alabama (Hoover, Ala.), SEC Network+
2 p.m. CT, Kansas at LSU, SEC Network+
2 p.m. CT, Santa Clara at Vanderbilt, SEC Network+
2:05 p.m. CT, Holy Cross at Texas A&M, SEC Network+
3 p.m. CT, Binghamton at Auburn, SEC Network+
3 p.m. CT, Rhode Island at Florida, SEC Network+
4 p.m. CT, Cincinnati at Mississippi State, SEC Network+
4 p.m. CT, Missouri vs. Iona (Cary, N.C.) [Game 2] 
5 p.m. CT, Tennessee at Florida International 

Sunday, February 15
11:30 a.m. CT, Rhode Island at Florida, SEC Network+
12 p.m. CT, Binghamton at Auburn 
12 p.m. CT, Eastern Illinois at Georgia, SEC Network+
12 p.m. CT, Tennessee at Florida International 
12 p.m. CT, Santa Clara at Vanderbilt, SEC Network+
12:05 p.m. CT, Holy Cross at Texas A&M, SEC Network+
12:30 p.m. CT, Kentucky at UNC Wilmington 
1 p.m. CT, Maryland-Eastern Shore at Alabama (Hoover, Ala.), SEC Network+
1 p.m. CT, Kansas at LSU, SEC Network+
1 p.m. CT, College of Charleston at South Carolina, SEC Network+
1:05 p.m. CT, North Dakota at Arkansas, SEC Network+
1:30 p.m. CT, William & Mary at Ole Miss, SEC Network+
1:30 p.m. CT, Cincinnati at Mississippi State