Early start won't bother Tigers

June, 5, 2012
6/05/12
10:05
PM ET
BATON ROUGE, La. – There's nothing like sipping your morning coffee around the batting cage.

That's what LSU and Stony Brook will be doing this weekend for their Super Regional series at Alex Box Stadium. The series has drawn the early start for ESPN2 with Friday and Saturday games starting at 11 a.m. and the if-necessary game on Sunday scheduled for noon.

For the players, the early start matters little.

"We played at 9:30 in the morning (at the SEC tournament), but once we toed it up, you forget what time of day it is," shortstop Austin Nola said. "Our mentality was, we're going to beat these guys no matter what. That's the mentality. Once you get on the field, you're ready to go."

The early start actually seemed to be to the Tigers' liking. LSU put together a 17-hit attack and used a solid start from Kevin Gausman to pour it on Ole Miss, 11-2.

So it's not the team that concerns LSU coach Paul Mainieri.

"My only concern is for our fans," Mainieri said, "especially the elderly sitting out in the hot sun."

The early starts (especially on a work day Friday) and the daytime summer heat could offset one of LSU's biggest advantages at home: the crowd. LSU is annually the nation's attendance leader and the 10,367 at LSU's 7-1 regional win over Oregon State on Saturday was an LSU home record.

Don't overlook Stony Brook: Another factor that could keep LSU fans away would be the lack of a familiar opponent. That won't be a factor with the Tigers players.

Stony Brook (50-12) not only lead the nation in wins, its core players established the school's name to people who seriously follow college baseball last summer.

Nola, who played in the Cape Cod League in 2011, noticed the six Seawolves playing on the Cape, including a few who were among the top players in the elite summer league.

"That's where I first heard of Stony Brook," Nola said. "They're impressive."

One might forgive fans for not quite seeing it that way. Stony Brook is from Long Island a short drive from Queens, so it's not from the sun belt states that typically dominate college baseball. It's also outside the power conferences, from the tiny American East Conference.

"But all they could do is beat the teams on their schedule and they did that," Mainieri said. "And they dominated those teams. Nobody else in the country has 50 wins."

If nothing else, Mainieri said the First-Year Player Draft showed the talent in the Stony Brook program.

Seawolves outfielder Travis Jankowski went in the supplemental first round to the San Diego Padres. Catcher Pat Cantwell went in the third round to the Texas Rangers.

In the same stretch, LSU had just one player picked, Gausman, who went fourth overall to the Baltimore Orioles.

"So they have us beat in the draft," Mainieri said.

Nola, Goody, get name called: Nola, LSU's slick fielding shortstop, was drafted in the fifth round by the Miami Marlins Tuesday. Nick Goody, the Tigers closer, was drafted in the sixth round by the New York Yankees.

Gary Laney | email

Reporter, GeauxTigerNation

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