Last Modified: Thursday, March 07, 2013 10:16 PM
Just call it a dress rehearsal.
The LSU baseball doesn’t start Southeastern Conference play until next weekend, but head coach Paul Mainieri wants the Tigers to get an early jump.
“We plan to treat this series like an SEC weekend,” Mainieri said of the three games against Washington. “We’d like to simulate the preparation and atmosphere that we’ll experience in our league each week.
“The weather should be warmer this weekend, so we’re hoping for some great crowds to give our players a taste of what it’s like when we start playing SEC games.”
It might be forced familiarity.
LSU has never played Washington in baseball and the Huskies have never played an SEC team in the regular season.
But otherwise the Tigers (12-1), ranked anywhere from No. 3 to No. 8 in the college baseball polls, look ready for a final shakedown cruise before their first series next weekend at Mississippi State.
In the previous three weekends, left-hander Cody Glenn has solidified himself as the No. 3 starter behind Aaron Nola and Ryan Eades, and the Tigers’ bats have had some pop, particularly when the weather has cooperated.
The three projected weekend starters haven’t allowed an earned run in their last 271⁄3 innings and the Tigers bring a .320 team batting average.
Seniors Raph Rhymes (.396) and Mason Katz (.333) each bring 11-game hitting streaks into the game.
Washington (4-8) is led by outfielder Jayce Ray, who’s hitting .391. The Huskies bring a .251 average for their first trip to Baton Rouge.
“Washington has a very talented club with SEC-caliber players,” Mainieri said. “So we’re looking forward to a strong challenge.”
Nola (1-0, 1.83 ERA) will get the start in today’s 7 p.m. game against Washington right-hander Austin Voth (2-1, 2.95). Voth has 31 strikeouts in 21 innings while Nola is coming off a career-high 11 strikeouts in seven innings against Brown last week.
Eades (2-0 0.49) will face right-hander Nick Palewicz in Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. game while Glenn (2-0, 0.00) will draw right-hander Tyler Davis (0-1, 7.07) in the 1 p.m. Sunday finale.