By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor
Five of the six participants are ranked in the D1Baseball.com Top 25. The sixth is undefeated. 80 scouts and perhaps as many as 20,000 fans in attendance for a mass assembly of premium talent. The chance to get a leg up in NCAA Tournament seeding hanging in the balance.
Paul Mainieri said he expects a Southeastern Conference Tournament like feel — only staged in a Major League stadium in early March — as LSU (8-1) travels to Houston to take part in the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic at Minute Maid Park.
LSU, ranked as high as No. 2 in some polls, will take on consensus No. 1 TCU on Friday night, undefeated Baylor on Saturday afternoon and Texas Tech, ranked No. 10 by D1Baseball, on Sunday morning.
Mainieri has told his team to embrace the chance to play against elite competition at a big league park, but he’s not viewing the results as a referendum on his Tigers whether they’re good or bad.
“I don’t think it’s a test, either,” the coach said Wednesday. “We’re playing three great teams, and I don’t know if we’re going to go 0-3, 3-0 or somewhere in between. And if we go 0-3, I’m not going to sit here and say our team failed the test. And if we go 3-0, I’m not going to say we’re going to win the national championship because we won three games this weekend.”
“I’m not downplaying Friday night or this weekend at all,” shortstop Kramer Robertson said. “This is as exciting of a regular season game as you’re ever going to have in college baseball.”
The setting offers all comers a stage to shine amongst a gluttony of soon-to-be professional talent. It was two years ago that Alex Bregman foreshadowed his own quick ascension through the Astro organization with a dominant showing at Minute Maid Paid.
Still, LSU’s players downplayed the significance of that aspect, pointing out that there’s scouts in the stands of Alex Box Stadium on a daily basis.
“Any game that Alex (Lange) pitches, there’s going to be a ton of scouts, whether it’s here or somewhere else,” Robertson said. “So I don’t notice the scouts.”
“You don’t change your approach, it doesn’t matter who is in the stands,” left fielder Beau Jordan added. “It doesn’t matter if there’s anybody in the stands or if there’s 20,000. You’ve just got to stay with your approach. Be relaxed, but don’t be lackadaisical. Don’t be tense, but be intense.”
The Tigers swept through the event three years ago, taking down Houston, Baylor and Nebraska. Once again, the eyes of the college baseball world will transfix upon Houston as the Tigers take their place among what most consider the most loaded field in the event’s history.
LSU – Jr. RHP Alex Lange (2-0, 0.82 ERA, 11.0 IP, 2 BB, 18 SO)
TCU – Sr. RHP Brian Howard (1-1, 3.27 ERA, 11.0 IP, 2 BB, 10 SO)
LSU – Jr. LHP Jared Poche’ (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 15.0 IP, 2 BB, 10 SO)
Baylor – Jr. RHP Montana Parsons (1-0, 3.38 ERA, 10.2 IP, 7 BB, 9 SO)
LSU – Fr. RHP Eric Walker (1-0, 4.00 ERA, 9.0 IP, 3 BB, 12 SO)
Texas Tech – So. RHP Ryan Shetter (1-0, 2.13 ERA, 12.2 IP, 2 BB, 16 SO)
Friday, March 3 – LSU vs. TCU, 7 p.m. CT
Saturday, March 4 – LSU vs. Baylor, 3:30 p.m. CT
Sunday, March 5 – LSU vs. Texas Tech, 10 a.m. CT
Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas
LSU – No. 2 by Perfect Game; No. 3 by Collegiate Baseball; No. 4 by Baseball America; No. 4 by D1 Baseball
TCU – No. 1 in all college baseball polls
Baylor – No. 17 by Collegiate Baseball
Texas Tech – No. 10 by D1 Baseball; No. 12 by Collegiate Baseball; No. 21 by Baseball America
Friday and Sunday – LSU Sports Radio Network; in Baton Rouge on WDGL 98.1 FM
Saturday – in Baton Rouge on WTGE 100.7 FM
Radio broadcast and live stats for all LSU baseball games are available at www.LSUsports.net
Friday vs. TCU – FS2, Fox Sports Southwest, Fox Sports Southwest Plus
Saturday vs. Baylor – Fox Sports Southwest, Fox Sports Southwest Plus
Sunday vs. Texas Tech – Fox Sports Southwest
All three games may be viewed on Fox Sports GO. Games on FOX Sports GO can be streamed live on FOXSportsGO.com or on the FOX Sports GO app, which can be downloaded from iTunes, Google Play, Amazon App Store and Windows Store.
- TCU – LSU leads the all-time series with TCU, 6-3, and the teams’ first meeting came in 1967. Friday’s game marks the first matchup between the teams since the 2015 College World Series, when the Horned Frogs defeated the Tigers twice – once in the opening round (10-3) and once in an elimination game (8-4).
- Baylor – LSU leads the all-time series with Baylor, 9-3, and the teams’ first meeting came in 1916. The Tigers and the Bears last met in the 2015 Houston College Classic in Minute Maid Park, where LSU posted a 2-0 win over BU. The most significant matchup between the teams came in 2003, when LSU defeated Baylor in two of three games to win an NCAA Super Regional at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge.
- Texas Tech – Sunday’s game marks the first meeting between LSU and Texas Tech.