Weekend preview: Ole Miss


The end of the regular season is in sight for the LSU baseball team, but that's not an attitude the Tigers (36-10, 14-7) can afford to take.

LSU is sitting pretty with a three game lead on the SEC West, having won six of seven weekend series so far. But even with the season drawing to a close, the Tigers will have their work cut out for them if they're to maintain good positioning in the conference standings. Two of the team's last three series are away from home, and both of those road trips come against ranked opposition.

One of those starts tonight against No. 25 Ole Miss (30-16, 10-11), which is enduring the same type of roller coaster season the Tigers dealt with last spring. The Rebels breezed through the bulk of the non-conference schedule to start the year, but conference play has provided plenty of ups and downs. The high points have been as good as taking two of three games from then-No.1 Florida. But the Rebels have also dropped series to middling conference opposition like Georgia and Mississippi State.

The mixed results have landed the Rebels in the logjam of four SEC West teams that trail several games back of LSU. But despite holding a three-game lead over second-place Arkansas, a bad weekend could land the Tigers into an uncomfortable position with No. 3 South Carolina looming in two weeks.

Given the right results, LSU could find itself on top of the entire SEC by the end of the weekend. The Tigers are tied for first place with both the Gamecocks and No. 6 Kentucky. The Wildcats host No. 5 Florida, and South Carolina travels to No. 13 Arkansas.

The Tigers will be hoping for a faster start offensively than they got last weekend, when they had to rally in the eighth inning in two straight games to secure a series win against Georgia. The Rebels' bats have been pretty hot as of late, ranking third in conference with a combined .307 average. That could be slightly troubling after LSU starters Kevin Gausman and Ryan Eades weren't their typical dominant selves last weekend against the Bulldogs.

Pitching matchups: LSU coach Paul Mainieri will throw his typical rotation of Gausman (7-1, 3.12 ERA), Eades (5-2, 3.29 ERA) and Aaron Nola (5-2, 3.90 ERA). Ole Miss will counter with right-hander Bobby Wahl (5-1, 2.09 ERA) on Friday, right-hander Mike Mayers (4-2, 3.69 ERA) on Saturday and a gametime decision Sunday.

Game times: Friday at 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1:30 p.m.