LSU baseball SEC series primer: No. 1 Tigers vs. No. 3 South Carolina starts tonight

Dylan Crews fiving on his sixth
The timelessness of LSU's Dylan Crews is captured here as he rounds third after hitting his sixth home run of the season, extending his hitting streak to 19 games in the first inning against Central Arkansas on Tuesday night. PHOTO: By Jonathan Mailhes

LSU, ranked No. 1 by everyone – everywhere, off to one of its best starts in a decade, begins another mammoth SEC series tonight in Columbia, SC against one of the hottest and most potent offensive teams in all of college baseball.

No. 3 South Carolina, ranked in the top five of the college baseball RPI, enters the fourth weekend of conference play with 27-3 overall record and 8-1 in conference. And the Gamecocks have been pounding and smashing baseballs all season.

South Carolina leads the country in home runs by a wide margin with 72 on the year. The Gamecocks are in the top five in both on base percentage (.439) and runs scored per game (9.79).

Pitching-wise, South Carolina is ranked No. 4 in earned run average on the mound, allowing just 3.08 runs per game.

LSU has won all three of its conference series so far this season against teams ranked in the Top 15, but will enter the South Carolina series with a new game three starter – junior transfer Christian Little.

LSU coach Jay Johnson said he is impressed by the physicality and power of the Gamecocks.

“Big bodies, physical. I’m surprised they’re not a football team. I think they’re leading the country in homers, they hammer mistakes, they have big arms on the mound,” Johnson said. “They have an old team playing really well. I know they shuffled the deck with their rotation a little but this weekend. I expect to see Will Sanders on Thursday, supposed to be a top flight draft pick and it’s gonna be a great weekend. They were the standard for a while.”

No. 1 LSU Tigers (25-4, 6-3 SEC) at No. 3 South Carolina Gamecocks (27-3, 8-1 SEC)

DATES/TIME

  • Thursday, April 6 @ 6 p.m. CT (SEC Network +)
  • Friday, April 7 @ 6 p.m. CT (SEC Network +)
  • Saturday, April 8 @ 11 a.m. CT (SEC Network)

STADIUM

  • Founders Park in Columbia, S.C. (8,242)

RANKINGS

  • LSU – No. 1 in all college baseball polls
  • USC – No. 3 Collegiate Baseball, No. 6 Baseball America, No. 6 D1 Baseball

RADIO

·        LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates, including 98.1 in Baton Rouge

·        Live audio for LSU games at www.LSUsports.net/live; Live stats for LSU games at www.LSUstats.com 

TV/ONLINE

  • Saturday’s game will be televised on the SEC Network
  • All three games will be streamed live on SEC Network +

LSU SERIES RECORD VS. SOUTH CAROLINA

  • LSU leads the all-time series with South Carolina, 40-31-1; the Tigers and Gamecocks first met on the diamond in 1992 … LSU has won 18 of its past 29 games and five of its past eight SEC regular-season series versus South Carolina … the Gamecocks, however, have won the last two series meetings – a sweep in Columbia in 2018 and a 2-1 series victory in 2021 in Baton Rouge … the other meeting between the schools since 2018 occurred in the 2019 SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala., when the Tigers posted an 8-6 first-round win over South Carolina.  

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Game 1

LSU – Jr. RH Paul Skenes (5-0, 0.81, ERA, 44.1 IP, 8 BB, 83 SO)

USC – Jr. RH Will Sanders (2-1, 5.17 ERA, 31.1 IP, 12 BB, 37 SO)

Game 2

LSU – Jr. RH Ty Floyd (5-0, 2.87 ERA, 31.1 IP, 10 BB, 36 SO)

USC – Jr. RH Jack Mahoney (3-0, 2.72 ERA, 36.1 IP, 9 BB, 38 SO)

Game 3

LSU – Jr. RH Christian Little (2-1, 3.79 ERA, 19.0 IP, 8 BB, 28 SO)

USC – TBA

QUOTING COACH JAY JOHNSON

“South Carolina is a really physical team with big, strong hitters. They lead the country in home runs, they have really good pitching, and they’re playing with a ton of confidence. We’re looking forward to playing there, it’s a beautiful ballpark, and it will be great to get these two historical programs together and compete when we are both at the top of college baseball.”

ABOUT THE TIGERS

  • LSU has won four of its past five games, including an SEC series victory last weekend over No. 9 Tennessee … LSU’s 25-4 record is its best through 29 games since 2013, when the Tigers were 27-2 at the 29-game mark … LSU is 6-3 in conference games and enters this weekend’s series at South Carolina tied for first place in the SEC Western Division with Arkansas … the Tigers have posted series victories over No. 11 Texas A&M, No. 3 Arkansas and No. 9 Tennessee, marking the first time since 2013 LSU has won its first three league series.
  • LSU, which has been ranked No. 1 all season by all of the college baseball polls, enters this week at or near the top of several NCAA statistical categories … the Tigers are No. 1 in the nation in batting average (.337), on-base percentage (.458), runs scored (308) and shutouts pitched (7) … LSU is No. 2 in the nation in scoring average (10.6 runs per game); No. 3 in fielding percentage (.986), slugging percentage (.597) and hits allowed per nine innings (6.39), and the Tigers are No. 4 in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings (11.9) and WHIP (1.11).
  • LSU centerfielder Dylan Crews is No. 1 in the nation in batting average (.531), on-base percentage (.659) and runs scored (51); he is No. 3 in slugging percentage (.927) and No. 5 in base hits (51) … third baseman Tommy White is No. 1 in the nation in RBI per game (1.92) and No. 1 in total RBI (50) … right-hander Paul Skenes leads the nation in strikeouts (83), strikeouts per nine innings, (16.85), hits allowed per nine innings (3.86) and WHIP (0.61) … Skenes is No. 2 in the nation in ERA (0.81).
  • Junior centerfielder Dylan Crews saw his 26-game hitting streak end on Tuesday night in the Tigers’ 12-2 win over Nicholls; however, his on-base streak was extended to 33 games (all 29 games of this season + the last four games of the 2022 season) … in the Tigers’ SEC series victory last weekend over No. 9 Tennessee, Crews batted .545 (6-for-11) with one double, three RBI, one run, a .643 on-base percentage and a .636 slugging percentage … he leads the SEC with a .531 cumulative batting average, and he is also No. 1 in the league in on-base percentage (.659), base hits (51) and runs scored (51) … Crews is No.2 in the league in slugging percentage (.927).
  • Freshman first baseman/DH Jared Jones batted .600 (6-for-10) last week with one double, one homer, one RBI and five runs scored … first baseman/outfielder Tre’ Morgan hit .412 (7-for-17) last week with three doubles, three RBI and three runs scored …  shortstop Jordan Thompson recorded two doubles, four RBI and three runs last week, and his bases-loaded double in the bottom of the eighth inning last Thursday night versus Tennessee broke a 2-2 tie and lifted LSU to a 5-2 win … second baseman Gavin Dugas registered two doubles and two homers last week, and he shares the team lead in dingers (9) with Dylan Crews … Dugas’ solo homer in the fourth inning last Friday night versus Tennessee broke a 4-4 tie and proved to the game-winning hit in LSU’s 6-4 victory.
  • Junior right-hander Paul Skenes helped lead LSU to a series-opening win over No. 9 Tennessee last Thursday night by firing 7.0 innings and allowing just one run on five hits with one walk and 12 strikeouts …. Skenes fired four shutout innings before Tennessee scored a run in the fifth; Skenes then retired seven of the final eight batters he faced after allowing the run … Skenes has reached double figures in strikeouts in all seven of his starts this season with a minimum of 11 Ks in each outing … Skenes leads the SEC this season in strikeouts (83), innings pitched (44.1), wins (5) and opponent batting average (.127).
  • Junior right-hander Garrett Edwards earned a relief win over Tennessee last Thursday night, as he fired 1.2 scoreless innings with two hits, no walks and two strikeouts … Edwards is 4-0 on the year with a 0.81 ERA and a .163 opponent batting average … freshman left-hander Griffin Herring earned his first career save last Friday night versus Tennessee, as he blanked the Vols over two innings with no hits, no walks and four strikeouts.

ABOUT THE GAMECOCKS

  • South Carolina is in second place in the SEC Eastern Division with an 8-1 league mark, one game behind Vanderbilt (9-0) … the Gamecocks have posted series sweeps at Georgia and versus Missouri, and they won two of three games last weekend at Mississippi State … 
  • South Carolina leads the nation in home runs with 72, and the Gamecocks have four players with double-digit homer totals, including infielder Ethan Petry, who is batting .439 with four doubles, 13 homers and 42 RBI … catcher Cole Messina is hitting .316 with 10 homers and 36 RBI; first baseman Gavin Casas is batting .308 with 15 homers and 36 RBI, and infielder Will McGillis is hitting .297 with 10 homers and 22 RBI.
  • The Gamecocks are No. 8 in the SEC in team batting average (.299), No. 2 in the league in team ERA (2.98) and No. 12 in the conference in fielding percentage (.975).

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