Win or stay home: LSU baseball needs a sweep in season finale against Ole Miss

LSU baseball needs to claim three games against Ole Miss to have any chance at making the postseason. PHOTO BY: LSU Athletics

With one series to go, LSU baseball sits outside of the NCAA tournament picture.

LSU didn’t make the cut in either D1Baseball or Baseball America’s projections. The Tigers are among the first four team out according to Baseball America but aren’t even that highly rated in D1Baseball’s projection.

The Tigers will need to shake off their series loss to Alabama from last weekend quickly because anything short of a sweep against Ole Miss (27-25, 11-16 SEC) this weekend could see their postseason chances go from slim to none barring winning the SEC Tournament. LSU (33-20, 10-17 SEC) will need at least one win to secure a spot in the SEC Tournament.

“There’s a lot at stake; playing important baseball the last weekend of the season is a good thing,” LSU head coach Jay Johnson said. “In spite of the difficulty this season, these games matter. We’re looking forward to giving our best effort at home against a team that’s in a very similar situation. I can validate that this is really important to our players, and I think the effort that they’ve given has reflected that.”

Ole Miss is coming off two straight series wins including more recently taking a series against No. 5 Texas A&M. The Rebels lost their more recent game though, a midweek contest with Southern Miss.

Ole Miss sits at No. 24 in RPI and No. 26 and KPI and a sweep over the Rebels could help LSU’s rankings in both as well as put it at 13 SEC wins. The 13-win mark has been the magic number for being considered for postseason contention. LSU sits at No. 30 in KPI and No. 35 in RPI. Being around the 30’s is usually where teams start to get considered for at-large bids.

Ole Miss has struggled on both sides of the ball for most of the season. The Rebels sit at No. 13 in the SEC in both batting average and ERA. They also have the more errors of any SEC team with 64, 17 more than the next closest team. Their 349 runs allowed is the most in the conference and their 337 runs scored is the second least.

Ole Miss will start right hander Riley Maddox in game one against LSU’s lefty Gage Jump. Maddox has a 5.68 ERA with 42 strikeouts and a 3-6 record on the year. Jump has a 3.86 ERA and with 74 strikeouts and a 4-1 record.

Game two will see LSU’s Luke Holman start against the Rebels’ Liam Doyle. Doyle has a 5.29 ERA this season and a 3-2 record with 77 strikeouts. Holeman has a 2.74 ERA and 100 strikeouts on the year.

Ole Miss will give sophomore Mason Nichols his sixth start of the year in game three. Nichols has made 16 appearances this season, mostly in relief, and has a 3.50 ERA on the year. In his last start, he went five innings and allowed three hits and a run against Texas A&M.

LSU hasn’t named a game three start yet, something Johnson has done for most of the season. Nate Ackenhausen, Kade Anderson, Sam Dutton, Javen Coleman and Thatcher Hurd all have SEC starts this season and could be in contention for Saturday.

On offense, Ole Miss is led by infielder Andrew Fischer in home runs with 20 and RBI with 57. Ethan Lege leads the team in batting average with a .323 to go along with 13 homers and 38 RBI.

LSU is led by Tommy White and Jared Jones on offense. Jones has a team-high 22 homers and White trails right behind him with 20. Both players are batting over .300 and White leads the team with 56 RBI with Jones in second with 46 RBI.

Game one will start on Thursday at 6 p.m. from Alex Box and will be televised on SEC Network.

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Will Nickel

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