Preview: LSU baseball heads into road series with Missouri searching for first SEC series win

LSU baseball heads into its last road series of the season needing a win. PHOTO BY: Jonathan Mailhes

LSU baseball and head coach Jay Johnson are still on the prowl for their first SEC series win of the season, and they’ll be hoping for it to finally come this weekend against the Missouri Tigers.

LSU (23-15, 3-12 SEC) is coming off being swept on the road by No. 4 Tennessee and a midweek home win over UNO. Missouri (17-21, 5-10 SEC) is coming off a 1-2 series loss to Georgia and a midweek win over Missouri State.

“We’re not that far away, yet we’re far away,” Johnson said. “How do you get over the hump? It come back to baseball. It comes back to those inflection points, and it comes back to helping guys get back in tune to execute. Right now, they need my support and that’s what they’re going to get.”

Missouri has the worst batting average in the SEC with a .252 and are 13th in homers with 39. The Tigers also score the least amount of runs per game of any team in the SEC with 6.2. Missouri’s top hitter this season is Jackson Lovich with a .301 batting average. He is the only Tiger batting over .270 this season. Lovich has 23 RBI and seven homers on the season. Trevor Austin leads the team in homers with nine and RBI with 35 while batting .268.

LSU is batting .281 this season with 60 homers this season after hitting three home runs in the midweek win over UNO. Jared Jones leads the Tigers with 15 homers and is tied with Tommy White for the team lead in RBI with 35. White leads the team in batting average with a .333 average this season.

Missouri has the 11th ranked ERA in the SEC with a 5.51 through 333 innings pitched with 330 strikeouts. Carter Rustard leads the team with 42.2 innings pitched this season.

Rustard holds opposing batters to a .236 batting average and has 39 strikeouts on the season with a 5.27 ERA. His last start came in game one against Georgia where he went 3.1 innings and gave up seven hits, five runs and three walks.

Logan Lunceford is second on the team with a 6.13 ERA through 39.2 innings pitched. Lunceford’s last start came in game two against Georgia where he went four innings and allowed three hits, three runs and four walks.

Javyn Pimental is third on the team with 36 innings pitched through seven starts this season. He has a 4.00 ERA and holds opponents to a .219 batting average. His last start came in game three against Georgia where he went 3.1 innings and gave up five hits, seven runs and two walks.

LSU has made changes to its starting pitching rotation over the last few series as Johnson tries to find the best lineup for the Tigers. Gage Jump started game one against Tennessee after starting game two’s for most of the season and Luke Holman pitched second against the Vols.

Holman has been LSU’s best pitcher this season and one of the best in the SEC. He has the third best ERA in the conference with a 2.15 and is second in strikeouts with 75. He gave up two hits, two runs and three walks in his start against Tennessee.

Jump has a 3.98 ERA this season through 31.2 innings pitched and gave up five hits, five runs and four walks in four innings pitched against Tennessee.

LSU gave Nate Ackenhausen his first start of the season on Sunday, and he gave up two hits, two earned runs and no walks in four innings. He’s pitched 21.1 innings this season and has a 6.75 ERA.

“Looking back at last weekend, we were much better from a starting pitching perspective,” Johnson said. “Gage did a good job and Luke was exceptional. Then Nate did a nice job on Sunday. Then out of the bullpen, some of our more talented guys are starting to see what it takes in a game and we’re going to keep going with those guys. [Against UNO] the pitchers did a really good job, and they needed a good outing.”

Johnson spoke highly of the performances of Aidan Moffett and Cam Johnson and said he expects to see them play more this season. Moffett and Johnson both threw twice against Tennessee.

“They’re going to pitch from this point forward,” Johnson said.

Both players went one inning in game one. Johnson gave up two walks and no hits while Moffett surrendered just one hit. In game three, Moffett surrendered a hit and a pair of runs while Johnson surrendered two hits and a run.

LSU’s series with Missouri starts Friday and 7 p.m. and will be televised on SEC Network.

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Will Nickel

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