No. 1 Vanderbilt opens SEC series at No. 25 LSU Thursday night

LSU will start Landon Marceaux on the mound in Thursday night's SEC series home opener vs. No. 1 nationally ranked Vanderbilt.

The best of the best visits Alex Box Stadium for a three-game SEC series starting in Thursday night’s game one at 6:30.

No. 1 nationally ranked Vanderbilt (20-3, 5-1 SEC), ranked first in the SEC in team ERA (2.27) and in batting average (.313), faces struggling No. 25 LSU (17-8, 1-5 SEC).

Though the Tigers won a Tuesday non-conference road game over South Alabama, they have lost their first two SEC series after being swept at No. 11 Tennessee last Sunday.

And now LSU, which has been awful this season offensively against SEC pitching, battles two of the best starting pitchers in the nation.

Vanderbilt sophomore right-hander Jack Leiter leads the SEC in ERA (0.25), wins (6) and opponent batting average (.062). He is No. 2 in the SEC in strikeouts with 59.

Junior Kumar Rocker is tied with Leiter for the league lead in wins (6). Rocker is No. 2 in opponent batting average (.129) and in innings pitched (37.0), and he’s No. 3 in strikeouts with 53.

“Rocker and Leiter are great pitchers for Vanderbilt, but they’re not the only two good arms they’ve got, believe me,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “They’ve got a whole slew of guys, and they’ve got great players at every position.

“It’s going to be a tremendous challenge for our players, but this is the SEC. Any player on our team that’s worth his salt is looking forward to this kind of challenge.

“We’re expecting the wind to be blowing in this week, so it’s going to be hard on the hitters for both teams, and I like our pitchers, too. I imagine we won’t see high-scoring games – defense, big pitches and situational hitting are going to be huge.”

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Game 1 Thursday, 6:30 p.m. (SEC Network+)

LSU – Jr. RH Landon Marceaux (2-2, 0.26 ERA, 35.0 IP, 9 BB, 44 SO)

VU – Jr. RH Kumar Rocker (6-0, 0.73 ERA, 37.0 IP, 12 BB, 53 SO)

Game 2 Friday, 8 p.m. (ESPN2, SEC Network+)

LSU – Jr. RH Jaden Hill  (2-2, 6.35 ERA, 28.1 IP, 10 BB, 23 SO)

VU – So. RH Jack Leiter (6-0, 0.25 ERA, 36.0 IP, 13 BB, 59 SO)

Game 3 Saturday, 2 p.m. (SEC Network+)

LSU – Jr. RH AJ Labas  1-0, 2.97 ERA, 33.1 IP, 6 BB, 33 SO)

VU – So. RH Thomas Schultz (2-2, 5.14 ERA, 21.0 IP, 4 BB, 22 SO)

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