Baseball preview: LSU faces off with Xavier in three-game series as it gears up for SEC play

LSU baseball head coach Jay Johnson called Nicholls State "the best team we'll see on a Tuesday night." PHOTO BY: Michael Bacigalupi

No. 2 LSU baseball is heading into its first three-game series of the season against Xavier as it prepares for SEC play.

Friday’s game will be the first ever meeting between the two schools. LSU is 8-0 against baseball programs from the Big East.

“We have five games in six days before we start SEC play next weekend, so we have a lot of business to handle before we get there,” LSU head coach Jay Johnson said. “We’ve played a winning style of baseball over the past several games; when we do that, we become a lot to deal with.”

LSU (12-1) will start Luke Holman on Friday and Xavier (7-6) will start Luke Hoskins. Holman has yet to give up an earned run this season through 18.0 innings while recording 30 strikeouts. He has limited opponents to a .133 batting average while only giving up two walks.

Hoskins comes into the Friday night matchup with a 9.64 ERA through 14.0 innings. He has recorded 12 strikeouts while allowing opponents to hit .333 against him. His most recent start came in Xavier’s 10-6 win over Florida Gulf Coast. He went 6.0 innings fiving up three earned runs, three walks and four hits while recording nine strikeouts.

Gage Jump will start for the Tigers on Saturday and Nolan Hughes will start for Xavier. Jump has also yet to give up an earned run this season through 8.1 innings pitched. He has given up just three hits and one walk while recording 11 strikeouts.

Jump has been eased into the season after coming off a UCL injury, but his most recent saw him throw 76 pitches through 5.0 innings in the win over UL.

Hughes has a 12.15 ERA and 3.15 WHIP this season through 6.2 innings pitched. He has given up seven hits, 14 walks and nine earned runs while recording 14 strikeouts this season. Hughes’ last start came in Xavier’s 17-8 loss to Lipscomb. He made it through just 0.1 innings while giving up five earned runs, four walks and one hit in that game.

Sunday’s game will see Thatcher Hurd and Nick Boyle start on the mound. Hurd has had a rough start to the season for LSU with a 6.75 ERA through 12.0 innings. He has thrown 17 strikeouts and walked six batters this season.

Boyle comes into the game with a 4.85 ERA through 13.0 innings pitched. He has 13 strikeouts and 13 walks so far this season.

The Xavier pitching staff has a combined 7.05 ERA with 98 strikeouts while allowing opponents to hit .302 through 111.0 innings. LSU’s pitching staff has a total 3.60 ERA with 174 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .217 batting average through 115.0 innings. LSU is third in the country in strikeouts per nine innings.

“Our starting pitching has been phenomenal for five games in a row, and that really simplifies the game in a lot of ways,” Johnson said. “It helps us maximize the bullpen appropriately, and our relievers have done a great job.”

On the offensive side of the ball, Xavier is led by Isaac Wachsmann who is batting .464 this season with four home runs and eight RBI. Infielder Matt McCormick has four homers and 13 RBI and outfielder Aedan Anderson has three home runs with 11 RBI. As a team, Xavier is batting .279.

Xavier is coming into the series after handing Louisiana Tech its first loss of the season. LSU enters the series on a seven-game win streak after LSU. LSU won the Astros Foundation Classic last season before narrowly avoiding an upset against Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday.

Friday’s game will start at 6:30 p.m., Saturday’s at 5 p.m. and Sunday’s at 12 p.m. All of the games can be streamed on ESPN+.

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