BATON ROUGE, La. -- Who would have thought the Cape Cod League would prove to be a preview for the LSU-Stony Brook Super Regional?
When the third and deciding game between LSU and Stony Brook starts 12:05 p.m. Sunday at LSU's Alex Box Stadium, the 2011 Cape Cod League Pitcher of the Year, LSU right-hander Ryan Eades, will toe the rubber against the reigning Cape Cod League Player of the Year, Stony Brook leadoff hitter Travis Jankowski, who was drafted in the supplemental first round by the San Diego Padres in the MLB draft on Monday.
Eades (5-2, 3.55 ERA), a sophomore, has been a mainstay in the LSU weekend rotation, making his turn in all 16 Tiger weekends this season. His 17th start will be to continue the season, and the Tigers are hoping for some of the magic that made him so good at the Cape as opposed to being the LSU pitcher that gets batted around the most.
Opponents hit .287 against the sophomore from Slidell, La., and he has made a habit of working his way out of trouble and "hanging in" his starts. Stony Brook, which has 20 hits in the first two games of the super regional, hasn't been a team that allows pitchers who flirt with trouble to get off the hook.
Last week at the Coral Gables, Fla., regional, Stony Brook scored 50 runs.
Stony Brook coach Matt Senk said he doesn't know who will pitch for the Seahawks.
"The only thing I know is he'll be right-handed," Senk said.
The most likely candidate would seem to be Evan Stecko-Haley, who has been the Seawolves' No. 3 starter much of the year and has competitive statistics (7-3, 3.47 ERA).
But Stecko-Haley struggled in the Coral Gables Regional, lasting just 1 1/3 innings while giving up five runs on four hits in his start against Missouri State. Reliever Frankie Vanderka wound up getting the win out of the bullpen as Stony Brook put together a seven-run seventh inning to win 10-7.
Vanderka pitched a third of an inning and took the loss in the first game of the super regional. LSU saw three relievers in that game and scored four runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Stony Brook bullpen. In 16 innings against Stony Brook starters Brandon McNitt and Tyler Johnson, LSU has managed just two unearned runs on six hits.
"Josh Mason is one guy in the bullpen who hasn't thrown yet and he did a tremendous job for us last weekend (allowing two runs in 5 2/3 innings in two relief appearances at the regional) and it's nice to know that a terrific team like LSU has not had a an opportunity to see Josh yet where they have had an opportunity to see the other guys," Senk said.
More hitting, please: Regardless of who's pitching for Stony Brook, LSU coach Paul Mainieri said his team needs better at-bats.
"We need to get some more hits than we are getting, that is for sure," Mainieri said. "We have run up against some tough pitching. These kids from Stony Brook are good. They are not overpowering guys and we knew that, but have good command, they mix their pitches well and they do not get you too comfortable in the batter's box.
"We've had a few balls hit hard, not a lot. We just have to do a little bit better tomorrow."
Stony Brook has also had a less-than-stellar offensive weekend so far, with seven runs in 20 innings after scoring 50 at Miami.
"We aren't scoring the same number of runs," Senk said, "but LSU throws some pretty tremendous arms at you."
Miscellaneous: Stony Brook was the first team to beat LSU in a post-season game at the "new" Alex Box Stadium, which reopened in 2009. LSU had been 9-0 in home postseason games. The Tigers went 5-0 through a regional and super regional in 2009, swept a regional last week and won the first game of the super regional. ... Stony Brook's Willie Carmona is 15-for-30 in the NCAA postseason. He's 4-for-9 in the super regional after going 11-for-21 to be the most outstanding player of the Coral Gables Regional.