Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tigers Open SEC Tournament Today

Eighth-ranked LSU (39-16-1, 18-11-1 SEC) begins postseason play at 10 a.m. CT Wednesday when the Tigers meet No. 19 South Carolina in the opening round of the SEC Tournament at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala.
The game will be carried by the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network. The Baton Rouge affiliate is WDGL 98.1 FM. Live audio of the game may be accessed in the Geaux Zone at
LSU’s SEC Tournament games on Wednesday and Thursday will be televised by Cox Sports Television (Cable Ch. 37 in Baton Rouge). CST will also carry the “if necessary” game on Saturday.
FSN Southwest (Cable Ch. 38 in Baton Rouge) will televise Friday’s games, Saturday’s semifinals and the championship game on Sunday.
LSU, the SEC Western Division champion, is the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament, and South Carolina is the No. 7 seed. The winner of Wednesday’s game will face the winner of the Florida-Vanderbilt contest at 5 p.m. Thursday.
The LSU-South Carolina loser will take on the Florida-Vanderbilt loser at 10 a.m. Thursday in an elimination game.
The Tigers, riding a 16-game win streak, moved up to No. 8 in this week’s Collegiate Baseball poll LSU’s appearance in the Top 10 is the club’s first since March 13, 2006. LSU recorded a three-game SEC sweep of Auburn last weekend, extending its win streak to 16 games overall and 12 games in conference play.
The Tigers’ 16-game streak is the longest by an LSU squad since the 1997 club won its first 19 games. The 12-game SEC win streak is LSU’s longest in one season -- the Tigers won 15 straight league games in 1990-91 (four straight at the end of the ’90 season, 11 in a row to start the ’91 season).
The sweep over Auburn clinched the SEC Western Division title for LSU, the 14th division crown in school history and the Tigers’ first since 2005. LSU has claimed five Western Division championships this decade – 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2008.
The Tigers are hitting .335 (207-for-618) as a team during their 16-game win streak with 46 doubles, five triples and 26 home runs, and LSU has outscored its opponents, 150-76, in the past 16 contest.
The Tigers’ pitching staff has been superb during the streak as well, recording a 3.65 ERA in 153 innings of work with 46 walks and 146 strikeouts.
“In my 26 years of coaching at the college level, our players define the word ‘team’ as well as any group I’ve ever worked with,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “They’re a great group of kids who care about the right things, and each player has embraced his role on the team. We don’t have any superstars, but we do have a dedicated group of players who have worked very hard and represented LSU well. We’re looking forward to going to Hoover to continue to play well and hopefully have some fun.”
Mainieri said junior left-hander Ryan Verdugo (8-2, 3.54 ERA) will start Wednesday’s game on the mound for LSU. Verdugo defeated Auburn in his last outing on Thursday, limiting the Plainsmen to three runs on six hits in 5.2 innings with two walks and six strikeouts.
South Carolina coach Ray Tanner will counter with freshman right-hander Sam Dyson (7-0, 3.86 ERA).
LSU leads the overall series with South Carolina, 25-20-1, including a three-game sweep in Baton Rouge earlier this season (April 25-27). South Carolina, though, has won eight of the last 12 meetings between the clubs.
LSU has a 50-34 all-time record in the SEC Tournament as the Tigers have made 27 appearances in the postseason event. LSU did not qualify for the SEC Tournament last season after making 22 straight appearances from 1985-2006. The Tigers have captured SEC Tournament titles in 1986, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 2000.

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