Jay Johnson looking for continued improvement as No. 2 LSU opens two-game midweek series with North Dakota State tonight

Mac Bingham
LSU and outfielder Mac Bingham working on continued improvement tonight against North Dakota State. PHOTO BY JONATHAN MAILHES

No. 2 LSU baseball will try to bounce back from it second loss of the season with two midweek matchups against North Dakota State.

LSU (14-2) dropped Sunday’s game to Xavier 2-1 after winning the previous two games in the series. The Tigers failed to register an earned run and finished the game with just five hits and its one run was unearned.

LSU won the series with Xavier 2-1 though thanks to great pitching performances from its starters and from the bullpen. Luke Holman and Gage Jump were lights out in LSU’s wins. Both pitchers recorded 10 strikeouts each in their starts and didn’t allow a run.

In LSU’s four games last week the Tigers’ pitching staff posted a 1.25 ERA and recorded 57 strikeouts in 36.0 innings. LSU held opposing batters to a .184 batting average and allowed just five earned runs and 10 walks.

“We’re excited about the week ahead. It’s good for our team to play, continue to develop, and improve itself,” LSU head coach Jay Johnson said. “We’re obviously very happy with how we pitched last weekend (vs. Xavier) – four runs in three games, sign me up for that. We’ll take that all day, every day. There are some pieces of the team that we need to improve, and that’s not uncommon in any year that I’ve ever coached. We’ll keep doing that, and we’ll continue to evolve as we move through the schedule.”

NDSU (3-11) is coming off a series loss to Southeastern Louisiana. The Bison won the first game 6-3 but dropped the next two to lose the series. Before that, NDSU was swept in a four-game series with No. 3 Oregon State. That series included two run-rule losses.

The Bison are batting .243 as a team this season with 19 doubles, five triples and nine homers. Colten Becker leads NDSU with a .382 batting average and is third on the team with six RBI. James Dunlap leads the team in RBI with 12 and Carson Hake leads the team with 9 homers.

Freshman Steven Milam leads the LSU batters with a .389 batting average. He had three RBI last week and scored five runs. He has 13 RBI on the season and a .471 on-base percentage.

The Bison pitching staff has a 9.03 ERA this season and is giving up a .283 batting average to opponents. Their top pitcher is Nolan Johnson with a 3.32 ERA and 23 strikeouts through 19.0 innings pitched. Johnson was the starter in NDSU’s 6-3 win over Southeastern on Friday and went 7.0 innings giving up four hits, three unearned runs and one walk.

LSU has won both of its midweek games this season with freshman lefty Kade Anderson getting the start in both. Anderson went 5.0 innings in LSU’s 16-4 win over Rice and allowed three hits and three runs. He struck out 13 batters in 5.0 innings against Southeastern last Wednesday while allowing only two hits and no earned runs.

On the season Anderson has a 0.64 ERA and 26 strikeouts through 14.0 innings pitched.

LSU has never faced NDSU on the diamond but has a 4-2 all-time record against the Summit League. Tonight’s game will start at 6 p.m. and tomorrow’s game will be at 1 p.m. The games can be streamed on SEC Network+.

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Will Nickel

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