#7 Kentucky Wildcats (22-6, 6-3) at #2 LSU Fighting Tigers (27-2, 8-1)
BATON ROUGE, LA — Second-ranked LSU (27-2, 8-1 SEC) faces No. 7 Kentucky (22-6, 6-3 SEC) in this weekend in Alex Box Stadium in a matchup of Top 10 Southeastern Conference teams
Game 1 of the series begins at 7 p.m. CT Friday, Game 2 starts at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, and first pitch for Game 3 is 12 p.m. Sunday.
The gamed can be heard on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (98.1 FM in Baton Rouge). Live video, audio and stats on Friday and Saturday, and live audio and stats on Sunday may be accessed in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net. Live video of Sunday’s game may be viewed at www.ESPN3.com.
All three games of the series will be televised – Friday and Saturday on Cox Sports Television, and Sunday on both Cox Sports Television and Comcast Sports Southeast.
LSU has won nine straight games and is tied with Vanderbilt (8-1) for the overall SEC lead.
LSU is 27-2 for only the second time in school history, matching the 28-game start of the Tigers’ 1986 squad. The Tigers are 8-1 in SEC play for the first time since the 1997 club won eight of its first nine league games.
“We’re looking forward to a tremendous matchup of Top 10 teams this weekend,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “Kentucky is an extremely talented team with three excellent left-handed starting pitchers and some outstanding players in their lineup. Last season, we were No. 1 and they were No. 2 when we met in Lexington, and it was a very competitive series. I would expect more of the same this weekend, but this time we get to play in front of our great fans.”
Mainieri said that sophomore right-hander Aaron Nola and junior right-hander Ryan Eades will start the first two games of the series on the mound for LSU. The Tigers’ Game 3 starter is undecided.
Kentucky coach Gary Henderson will counter with a trio of southpaws – sophomore A.J. Reed, senior Jerad Grundy and junior Corey Littrell.
The Tigers are No. 4 in the SEC in team ERA (2.49), while the Kentucky staff is ranked No. 3 in the league (2.46).
Nola led the Tigers to a Game 1 SEC victory at Missouri Friday, firing 7.2 shutout innings. He limited Mizzou to just five singles while recording one walk and 10 strikeouts, his highest career strikeouts total in an SEC contest. Nola improved to 4-0 this season and raised his strikeouts total to 55, which ranks No. 2 in the SEC.
Eades is No. 2 in the SEC in wins (6), No. 3 in ERA (1.35) and No. 6 in strikeouts (45).
LSU leads the SEC in team batting average (.308) and in home runs (27), and the Tigers are also No. 1 in the league in fielding percentage (.981).
LSU senior first baseman Mason Katz was named National and SEC Player of the Week Monday after leading the Tigers to a three-game sweep over Missouri. Katz hit .571 (8-for-14) at Missouri with one triple, three homers, eight RBI and four runs. Katz is hitting .430 on the year, and he leads the SEC with 13 homers and 49 RBI. Katz’s RBI total is also No. 1 in the nation.
Freshman shortstop Alex Bregman hit .429 (6-for-14) at Missouri last weekend with one homer, one RBI and four runs scored. Bregman is hitting a team-high .440 this season with nine doubles, three triples, three homers, 24 RBI, 35 runs and nine stolen bases.
Kentucky is led at the plate junior infielder J.T. Riddle, who is batting .352 with six doubles, one triple, one homer and 17 RBI. Reed, who doubles as a pitcher and first baseman, is hitting .333 with four doubles, two triples, and team-highs of seven homers and 30 RBI.
The Wildcats are fifth in the SEC in team batting average (.286), and UK has 18 home runs (tied for 3rd in SEC).
LSU leads the all-time series with Kentucky, 43-25-1, and the Tigers have won 10 of their last 14 SEC series with the Wildcats, though Kentucky won two of three games over LSU last season in Lexington. LSU swept three games from UK in 2011 in the Wildcats’ last visit to Alex Box Stadium.