May 9, 2013 11:57 AM by LSU Sports Information
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Third-ranked LSU (43-6, 19-5 SEC) begins a three-game Southeastern Conference series at 8 p.m. Thursday versus Texas A&M in Blue Bell Park.
Game 2 of the series begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday, and first pitch for Game 3 is 12 p.m. Saturday.
The games can be heard on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (98.1 FM in Baton Rouge) and live audio and stats of the games may be accessed in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net. Live video is available at WatchESPN.com on Thursday and Saturday, and at ESPN3.com on Friday.
All three games of the series will be televised - Thursday on ESPNU, Friday on CST/CSS and Saturday on ESPN.
First-place LSU holds a 3.5-game lead over Arkansas in the SEC Western Division, and the Tigers are in second place in the overall league standings, 2.5 games behind Vanderbilt.
The 2013 Tigers have the best 49-game regular-season record in LSU history, and their 19-5 conference mark is the best in school annals since the 1997 club was 20-4 through 24 league games.
"We've had a tremendous regular season so far but it's certainly not time to celebrate," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "Our season will ultimately be judged by what we do in the postseason, and in order for us to be in the best possible postseason position, these remaining regular-season games are crucial. Texas A&M has an outstanding program that was in the College World Series just two years ago, so they certainly have our attention. We have to continue to play at a high level, especially on the road in a new environment."
Mainieri said sophomore left-hander Cody Glenn (5-1, 2.93 ERA) will start Game 1 Thursday on the mound for the Tigers, followed by sophomore right-hander Aaron Nola (9-0, 1.92 ERA) on Friday and junior right-hander Ryan Eades (8-1, 2.36 ERA) on Saturday.
Nola fired his fourth consecutive complete game last Friday and his second shutout of the season when he blanked No. 19 Florida, 5-0, in Alex Box Stadium. He limited the Gators to no runs on four singles in nine innings with one walk and three strikeouts.
Nola became the first LSU pitcher to record four consecutive complete-game victories since Mike Sirotka accomplished the feat in 1993. He also became the first LSU pitcher to fire two shutouts in one season since Greg Smith recorded two in 2005.
LSU has the second-best team ERA in the SEC at 2.39, and the Tigers' staff is No. 2 in the league in strikeouts with 390.
Texas A&M coach Rob Childress will counter with sophomore right-hander Daniel Mengden (5-3, 2.10 ERA) on Thursday, junior right-hander Parker Ray (0-1, 1.85 ERA) on Friday and junior right-hander Rafael Pineda (5-4, 2.87 ERA) on Saturday.
The Aggies are No. 10 in the SEC with a 3.60 staff ERA, and Texas A&M pitchers have recorded 317 strikeouts, which ranks 10th in the league.
LSU freshman shortstop Alex Bregman batted .438 (7-for-16) in the Tigers' four wins last week with two doubles, four RBI, four runs and one stolen base. In LSU's three-game sweep of Florida, he batted .500 (6-for-12) with two doubles, three RBI and four runs scored. Bregman is hitting an SEC-best .401 (83-for-207) this season with 13 doubles, seven triples, five homers, 46 RBI and 50 runs. He is batting .393 in SEC games with five doubles, three triples, four homers, 23 RBI and 21 runs
LSU senior first baseman Mason Katz is batting .378 with 10 doubles, two triples, 13 homers and an SEC-best 63 RBI, while junior third baseman Christian Ibarra is hitting .363 with 13 doubles, five homers and 32 RBI.
LSU is No. 2 in the SEC with a .310 team batting average, and the Tigers are second in the league with 36 home runs.
Texas A&M is led at the plate by senior infielder Mikey Reynolds, who is hitting .371 with 10 doubles, 19 RBI, 28 runs and 12 stolen bases. Sophomore catcher/first baseman Cole Lankford is batting .351 with 11 doubles, three triples, one homer and 23 RBI.
The Aggies are No. 8 in the SEC with a .272 team batting average, and they are 11th in the league with 17 home runs. Texas A&M is third in the SEC with 69 stolen bases in 92 attempts.
LSU and Texas A&M are tied in the all-time series between the schools, 13-13-1; the first meeting occurred in 1907 in Baton Rouge (3-2 LSU win). LSU has won the last seven meetings with Texas A&M, including consecutive victories in the 2004 NCAA Super Regional in Baton Rouge, which was the last matchup between the teams.
This week's series marks the Tigers' first visit to College Station since March of 1990, when the Aggies won two of three games over LSU in a regular-season series. LSU's most famous visit to College Station came in May, 1989 when the Tigers defeated the top-ranked Aggies twice on the final day of the NCAA Central Regional to advance to the College World Series.