Rice vs. LSU Super Regional Preview

Anthony Ranaudo will start game one for LSU against Rice on Friday. (TigerRag Photo)
Anthony Ranaudo will start game one for LSU against Rice on Friday. (TigerRag Photo)

In what looks to be one of the more entertaining Super Regional matchups, the Rice Owls make the drive down I-10 to Baton Rouge to take on the LSU Tigers at the new Alex Box Stadium with a trip to the 2009 College World Series on the line.  The opening game of the series will be Friday night at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN, followed by game two on Saturday at 4 p.m. CT on ESPN and game three, if necessary, on Sunday at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN2.

Rice is making its sixth straight appearance in the Super Regionals and is looking for its fourth straight trip to the College World Series.  This will be LSU’s second straight appearance in the Super Regionals, and the Tigers are seeking their second straight appearance in Omaha.  The two teams met last season in an elimination game at the College World Series, with LSU making a late comback to take a 6-5 decision and sending the Owls home.

Rice (43-16, 16-8 Conference USA)

The Rice Owls battled back through the loser’s bracket to take the Houston Regional at Reckling Park last weekend.  After losing a Saturday night showdown to Kansas State, the Owls took down Xavier and Kansas State on Sunday and then beat the Wildcats again on Monday in a winner-take-all matchup.  The Owls enter the Baton Rouge Super Regional with a .322 team average, with 63 homeruns and 73 stolen bases.  Third baseman Anthony Rendon is the team leader at the plate, posting a stellar .384 average to go along with a team high 17 round-trippers and 70 runs batted this year.  Brock Holt and Rick Hague lead Rice on the base paths, with both players swiping 11 bases on the year.  The Rice offense is plating an average of 7.3 runs per game on the season.

Rice has a 4.07 team ERA on the year.  Lead by one of the best one-two punches in all of college baseball in Mike Ojala and Ryan Berry, the Owls look like a team build for the Super Regional format.  Ojala is a perfect 5-0 on the season with a 1.73 ERA in 62.1 innings pitched.  Berry is 7-1 with a 2.00 ERA in 76.2 innings on the hill and has thrown 4 complete games this season.  Taylor Wall would likely get the nod in game three, and the freshman lefty leads the team in starts with 15 and innings with 94 and has a 7-5 record to go along with a 3.45 ERA.  Left hander Matt Evers leads the staff in relief appearances with 30 and has posted a 4-3 record with 3 saves and a 6.60 ERA in 45 innings of work.  Jordan Rogers handles the closing duties for the Owls and has an 8-3 record with 7 saves and a 4.42 ERA in 53 innings on the bump.  Rice is allowing opponents to score an average of 4.8 runs per game on the year.

The Owls are 21-8 in games away from Reckling Park this year, including a 12-8 record in road contests this year and a perfect 9-0 record in neutral site games.

Probable Starting Rotation:
Friday – Ryan Berry (7-1, 2.00 ERA) or Mike Ojala (5-0, 1.73 ERA)
Saturday – Ryan Berry (7-1, 2.00 ERA) or Mike Ojala (5-0, 1.73 ERA)
Sunday – Taylor Wall (Fr., LHP, 7-5, 3.45 ERA)

LSU (49-16, 20-10 SEC)

The LSU Tigers earned a Super Regional birth after sweeping through the Baton Rouge Regional at Alex Box Stadium.  The Owls opened the regional with a 10-2 victory over Southern followed by a 3-2 extra inning defeat of Baylor in the winner’s bracket championship game and a 10-3 thrashing of Minnesota for the regional championship.  LSU enters Super Regional play with a .315 batting average to go along with 92 team homeruns and 108 stolen bases.  D.J. LeMahieu leads the Tigers in hitting with a .339 average.  Ryan Schimpf leads the team in homeruns with 18 to go along with 59 runs batted in.  Blake Dean has 15 round-trippers and a team-high 64 runs batted in.  Jared Mitchell is a terror on the base paths, as the speedy outfielder has swiped 33 bases in 41 attempts.  The Bayou Bengals are scoring an average of 7.8 runs per game this season.

LSU is sporting a solid 4.01 team ERA on the year.  Anthony Ranaudo has been named the game one starter for the Tigers.  For the season, the sophomore right hander is 9-3 with a 3.09 ERA and a team-high 138 strikeouts in 102 innings of work.  Louis Coleman is 12-2 with a 2.72 ERA in a team-high 106 innings on the mound.  Austin Ross would be the game three starter for LSU and has a 5-7 record to go along with a 4.94 ERA in 78 innings in a team-high 16 starts.  Paul Bertuccini and Daniel Bradshaw are regulars out of the LSU bullpen.  Bertuccini is 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA in 24 relief appearances and 22.2 innings of work.  Bradshaw has 19 of his 23 appearances in relief, posting a 4-0 record and 3.38 ERA in 45.1 innings.  Matty Ott is the closer for the Tigers.  On the season, Ott is 3-2 with 15 saves and a 2.22 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 33 appearances and 44.2 innings.  Opposing teams are scoring an average of 4.3 runs per contest against LSU this season.

The Bayou Bengals are 31-9 at the friendly confines of Alex Box Stadium this season, including a perfect 3-0 in post-season play thus far.

Probable Starting Rotation:

Friday – Anthony Ranaudo (So. RHP, 9-3, 3.09 ERA)
Saturday – Louis Coleman (Sr., RHP, 12-2, 2.72 ERA)
Sunday – Austin Ross (So., RHP, 5-7, 4.94 ERA)