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Friday, June 14, 2013
GTN Mailbag: LSU built for the new park?

By Gary Laney

Alex Box Stadium
The Tigers move from familiar Alex Box Stadium to new T.D. Ameritrade Park in the CWS.

BATON ROUGE, La. -- GTN writer Gary Laney took your questions:

From Bryan (Houston): LSU used to own Rosenblatt. Will the Tigers like the new stadium in Omaha?

Gary Laney: Skip Bertman's LSU teams, in particular, were built for Rosenblatt Stadium, which was a hitter-friendly park for most of the Tigers' run. LSU was the team in mind when the term "Gorilla Ball" was coined. To me, it was a huge advantage for LSU to play in that venue for national championships, because it played similar to Alex Box Stadium.

T.D. Ameritrade Park, in its third year as the College World Series site, is no Rosenblatt. It's where home runs go to die. Fortunately for LSU, its playing style has changed, as well, due mostly to changes in rules regarding bat performance. No longer is LSU, which is playing at the new ballpark for the first time, a Gorilla Ball team, so it won't necessarily be penalized for playing in a fly-ball graveyard.

In many ways, the 2013 Tigers are built for the park, with one glaring exception: LSU doesn't excel at the running game, which one might think will come to play in a ballpark like T.D. Ameritrade.

Opening opponent UCLA has 12 more steals (66-54) and about 50 percent more sacrifice bunts (64-42) than the Tigers, which on the surface, might seem to point to Bruins success in that park. On the other hand, LSU is built to defend the running game. LSU is a plus fielding team, so giving away an out with a bunt might be bad math against a team that generates extra outs two or three times a game with extraordinary defensive plays.

Tigers pitchers throw strikes, and defensively, LSU makes the plays. That, to me, makes this a team built to succeed in a ballpark where it's hard to score runs.

Austin (Orlando): Will LSU get any big-name defensive line prospects? Seems like they'd be lining up to play for Brick Haley after last year's draft.

GL: I like LSU's chances for the state's top defensive line prospect, Gerald Willis III (New Orleans/Karr). Willis is versatile enough where he could end up at either end or tackle and be dominant at either.

If the Tigers add Deondre Clark (Oklahoma City/Douglass), a four-star end, that's the start of a pretty good defensive line class. From there, LSU can project on a player like Davon Godchaux (Plaquemine, La./Plaquemine) and still have a nationally signficiant class.

One thing to note is LSU signed seven defensive linemen in the 2013 class, so the Tigers won't be after the same numbers this time around.