LSU baseball: Tigers vs South Carolina series preview


The LSU baseball team needs just two wins against the South Carolina Gamecocks this weekend to wrap up the SEC regular season title.

LSU Tigers: 44-8 (19-7)

South Carolina Gamecocks: 31-22 (12-15)


Thursday, 6 p.m.

Friday, 7 p.m.

Saturday, 7 p.m.

*All times in Central Standard Time


Carolina Baseball Stadium (Columbia, S.C.)


Thursday (SEC Network)

Friday (ESPNU)

Saturday (SEC Network)


Available at and on the WatchESPN app for all three games

Next: LSU sweeps Mizzou, shows traits of a champion

To say that LSU baseball has been on a roll lately would be a massive understatement.

They have not lost a series since the end of March, the only such occasion of the season. They also have not lost back-to-back games since last season.

Did I mention that they are the unanimous No. 1 team in the country, and have been for weeks?

That is not to say that the LSU Tigers cannot be toppled, though, and this weekend’s series is the definition of sleeper games if I have ever seen it.

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The South Carolina Gamecocks have been LSU’s partner in crime when it comes to SEC dominance in recent years, but their conference foe from Columbia, SC has had their struggles this season, including a sweep at the hands of the Florida Gators last month. They did redeem themselves, however, winning  their most recent series against a Top 10 opponent in the Texas A&M Aggies.

The Tigers will have a slight changeup to their starting pitching rotation, but the big question mark regards changes at the closer spot. The recent shortcomings of Jesse Stallings have forced head coach Paul Mainieri to reconsider the team’s options at closer, and they will be going with whoever has the hot hand out of the bullpen to determine who takes the mound for the crucial final outs.

While this would be a problem for most teams, they have several viable options to fill the role, and I personally am not worried too much about the closer-by-committee system. Although it is ideal to have that go-to guy for the final three outs, the closer mentality is something that the coaching staff has instilled in their pitching staff throughout the season.

"“We have a staff mentality that when you’re on the field, you’re out there to get three outs before they get a run,” LSU reliever Zac Pearson told “So it really is a closer mentality. If you go back out for another inning, that’s just another chance to get those outs.”"

The change to the starting pitching rotation is a very slight one. Trying out a new No. 3 starter in Austin Bain is nothing new, given the instability at the spot, and Alex Lange is scheduled to take the mound on Saturday, in hopes that the Tigers can rest him after winning the first two games of the series. Jared Poche will still take the mound in Game 1.

Jared Foster likely returning to the starting lineup will be a jolt as well. LSU’s starting second baseman missed the team’s past four games after prematurely being declared academically ineligible, something that was cleared up during Foster’s recent appeal, which he won earlier this week.

As mentioned above, the Tigers still need to win two out of their final three games to clinch the SEC regular season title. Even if the LSU baseball team is the best in the country, they cannot afford to take their series with South Carolina lightly.

Do not let the Gamecocks sub-.500 conference record misguide you either. They may be only 12-15 in SEC play, but they are also 24-9 at home, and Carolina Baseball Stadium will be packed with fans in search of an upset of the top-ranked LSU Tigers.

Prediction: LSU wins two out of three

Could the Tigers sweep South Carolina?

Absolutely. I just do not see that happening, though, and it is nothing against the LSU baseball team.

If they win the first two games of the series, which they are perfectly capable of, I see the Tigers resting up on Saturday with the SEC regular season title and top seed in the conference tournament secured.

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