LSU baseball hosts No. 1 Texas A&M with its postseason hopes on the line

LSU baseball prepares to take on No. 1 Texas A&M. PHOTO BY: Jonathan Mailhes

After a brief break in its schedule where it played the two worst teams in the SEC, LSU baseball is back to playing a top-ranked opponents with No. 1 Texas A&M coming to town.

LSU (29-17, 7-14 SEC) is coming off its first two SEC series wins of the season and a 26-2 midweek win over Grambling State, but the Tigers will have to prove they can do it against top competition this weekend.

“I want us to play well, because playing well can lead to winning,” LSU head coach Jay Johnson said. “If we can do that, it changes our position instantaneously. 

LSU will be desperate to continue its winning ways as it tries to make its way into postseason play. The Tigers will likely need at least six wins in their last nine games to have a shot at sneaking into a regional after their rough start to the year.

“I’m excited about these final 10 games of the regular season,” Johnson said. “I think our players deserve a lot of credit for not packing it in when it got tough. If you’re playing meaningful baseball with 10 games left, that’s a good spot to be in, and we’re still in that range.”

Texas A&M (39-6, 15-6 SEC) is coming off a 10-6 midweek win over Tarleton and a series win over No. 17 Georgia. The Aggies dropped their first series of the season against Florida but have won every series since.

Texas A&M leads the all-time series against LSU 31-28-1. LSU won the series against the Aggies in the regular season last year but was knocked out of the SEC Tournament by them in a 5-4 loss.

The Aggies have one of the best offenses in the country. They’re No. 2 in the SEC with a .315 batting average and are third in the conference with 102 home runs. Outfielder Branden Montgomery is third in the SEC with 23 homers and leads the conference with 73 RBI. He leads the team in batting average with a .365.

Jace LaViolette also 23 home runs this season to go along with 61 BRI. Gavin Grahovac is third on the team with 16 homers and 52 RBI this season.

LSU is batting .288 this season with 83 homers. LSU has been on a home run hot streak after hitting ten in its last four games. Jared Jones leads the way with 19 homers and Tommy White is right behind with 18. White also leads the team in batting average with a .339 and RBI with 48.

In conference play, freshman Ashton Larson leads the team with a .412 batting average and Michael Braswell III is second with a .354 batting average. They are the only two players batting over .300 for the Tigers in SEC play.

Texas A&M also has the second-best ERA in the SEC with a 3.87. It holds opponent batters to a .231 batting average and has allowed 55 homers this season.

Lefty Ryan Prager will start game one on Friday against LSU’s lefty Gage Jump. Prager has a 2.59 ERA this season and an 8-0 record. His last start came against Georgia. He went six innings and gave up five hits, two runs and two walks.

Jump has a 3.62 ERA on the season and has been lights out in his last two starts. He went all seven innings of LSU’s run-rule win over Missouri and pitched seven innings against Auburn where he gave up just two hits and no walks.

The Aggies will throw lefty Justin Lamkin against Luke Holman during game two. Lamkin had a 4.47 ERA this season. His last start came against Georgia when he went 5.2 innings and gave up just one hit, two walks and no earned runs.

Holman got back on track last weekend against Auburn after a few rough outings. He went 6.2 innings and gave up just two hits, one earned run and three walks in that start. He has a 2.63 ERA on the season.

Neither team has announced a start for game three. LSU started Kade Anderson last weekend and he got shelled in the first inning before being pulled. Nate Ackenhausen picked up a hamstring injury and might not be able to start. Thatcher Hurd, Javen Coleman and Griffin Herring could all be in contention to start depending on how the first two games go.

Game one will start Friday at 7 p.m. from Alex Box Stadium and will be televised on ESPN2 and the SEC Network.

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Will Nickel

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