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Tigers Open 2021 Season vs. Air Force Saturday

Seventh-Ranked Tigers Ready for "Baseball At The Box"

by Bill Franques | Sr. Associate Communications Director
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Tigers Open 2021 Season vs. Air Force Saturday

Air Force Falcons (0-0) at No. 7 LSU Fighting Tigers (0-0) 

Saturday, February 20 – 1 p.m. CT
Sunday, February 21 – 12 p.m. CT

Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field (10,326)

• LSU – No. 7 Collegiate Baseball; No. 9 USA Today; No. 10 Baseball America
• Air Force – unranked 

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LSU has a 5-0 advantage in the all-time series with Air Force, including a 17-5 win over the Falcons in the teams’ last meeting in 2019 at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field … the Falcons are coached by Mike Kazlausky, who played at Air Force under Paul Mainieri when Mainieri was the AFA head coach … Mainieri coached at Air Force from 1989-94.

Game 1

LSU – Jr. RH Jaden Hill (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 11.2 IP, 5 BB, 17 SO, 2 SV in 2020)
AF – Jr. LH Stevan Fairburn (0-1, 4.91 ERA, 22.0 IP, 5 BB, 13 SO in 2020)
Game 2
LSU – Jr. RH Landon Marceaux (2-0, 2.70 ERA, 23.1 IP, 7 BB, 22 SO in 2020)
AF – Sr. RH John Byrnes (2-1, 5.91 ERA, 10.2 IP, 4 BB, 8 SO in 2020)

“We’re very excited and grateful to start the 2021 season, especially after the events of the past 11 months. I believe we have a very talented club that is capable of playing in games of great significance, but you never really know how a team is going to look until the lights go on for the first time and the season begins. I look for certain qualities in determining which players we can depend on. Those qualities often don’t display themselves until you’re playing the games for real. It’s important as a coach that I give us the best chance to win the games, as well as determine the best lineup combinations for our team. Whatever gives us the best chance to be successful is what we’re going to do, and the players understand that they need to gain the confidence of the coaches in order to be counted upon.”

• Coach Paul Mainieri earned his 600th win at LSU when the Tigers defeated UMass Lowell last March … Mainieri became just the 12th coach in SEC baseball history to win 600 games at a league school …  he currently has 1,467 victories as he begins his 39th collegiate season, and he is No. 1 on NCAA Division I Active Coaches wins list … Mainieri enters his 15th season at LSU with 603 wins as the Tigers’ head coach.
• LSU ended the pandemic-shortened 2020 season with a 12-5 record, and the Tigers completed the year riding a five-game win streak … LSU ranked No. 5 in the SEC in team ERA at 2.38 and No. 3 in the league in opponent batting average at .186
• Junior centerfielder Giovanni DiGiacomo batted .471 (8-for-17) during LSU’s five-game win streak that concluded the 2020 season … he scored six runs in that five-game span while collecting two doubles, one triple and four RBI … he also raised his cumulative batting average from .261 to .351in those five games … in the Tigers’ three-game series sweep of UMass Lowell on the final weekend of the 2020 season, DiGiacomo was 7-for-11 with two doubles, one triple, five runs, three RBI and two steals … he tied his single-game high for hits last March versus UMass Lowell, going 3-for-3 at the plate with a double and an RBI.
• Junior outfielder/designated hitter Gavin Dugas launched a pair of two-run homers last March to lift the Tigers to a 6-4 win over UMass Lowell … the second dinger came with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning and broke a 4-4 tie while providing the game-winning runs … the effort marked Dugas’ first career multi-homer game, and his four RBI also marked a career best.
• Sophomore second baseman Cade Doughty hit .500 (9-for-18) in the Tigers’ final five games of 2020 with one homer, seven RBI and four runs. 
• Senior right-hander Devin Fontenot posted a win and two saves in his last three appearances of 2020 … he worked five scoreless and hitless innings in the three-game stretch with two walks and 11 strikeouts … Fontenot earned 2020 Collegiate Baseball third-team All-America. recognition after recording a 1-0 mark on the year with a 0.90 ERA, four walks, 17 strikeouts and four saves in 10 innings.
• Junior right-hander Jaden Hill was named a 2020 third-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball after he allowed just one hit in 11.2 innings last season out of the bullpen … Hill recorded 17 strikeouts, and opponents batted .028 (1-for-36) against Hill last season.

• Air Force posted a 7-12 record in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season … eight starting position players and 11 pitchers return from last year’s club … the Falcons are a member of the Mountain West Conference.
• Falcons coach Mike Kazlausky, a 1991 Air Force alum, enters his 11th season at the helm of the program with a 205-298 mark.
• Senior IF/OF Cole Blatchford hit .343 last season for Air Force with 10 doubles, three homers and 13 RBI … junior outfielder Gabriel Garcia batted .305 with five doubles, one triple and 10 RBI, and senior OF/IF Tommy Gillman produced five doubles, one homer and a team-best 14 RBI.
• Air Force hit .257 as a team in 19 games last season with 42 doubles, six triples and five homers … the Falcons pitching staff posted a 5.43 ERA and surrendered a .283 opponent batting average.