Saturday, June 13, 2009


LSU (51-16) vs. VIRGINIA (48-13-1)
When: Saturday, June 13, 7 p.m.

Scouting Louisiana State
The Tigers are the nation's top-ranked team and, thanks to a nice balance of offense and pitching, haven't lost since their Southeastern Conference tournament opener on May 20. The 10-game winning streak is the Tigers' longest of the season.

Eight of the nine LSU starters are batting better than .300. Sophomore DJ LeMahieu leads the Tigers with a .340 average. Junior Ryan Schimpf is second with a .335 average and leads the team with 19 home runs.

Virginia must be careful whenever junior Jared Mitchell reaches base. Mitchell, the 23rd overall selection in this week's draft, has 69 career stolen bases. The Tigers' lineup is heavy with left-handed hitters, though, so they will be challenged by Virginia starter Danny Hultzen, who is a lefty.

LSU will start sophomore right-hander Anthony Ranaudo. He is 10-3 with a 2.95 ERA this season and has 147 strikeouts in 109 2⁄3 innings. Ranaudo, who missed most of last season with an elbow injury, pitched one inning during last year's College World Series. LSU's biggest advantage might be experience: The Tigers made it to Omaha last year.

Scouting Virginia
The Cavaliers' formula throughout the season has been pitching, defense and base running. Those ingredients helped them come back in the super regional against Mississippi, and it will be required if the Cavaliers want to knock off the nation's top team.

Virginia needs production from center fielder Jarrett Parker, the team's best hitter. Parker leads the Cavaliers in almost every major offensive category, but he went 0 for 9 during Virginia's two super regional wins.

The Cavaliers must also hope freshman third baseman Steven Proscia remains hot after batting .462 against Ole Miss.After an unexpected power surge paced the Virginia during the season, the team has failed to hit a home run in its past five games.

The key for the offense has been base running. The Cavaliers stole five bases in the second game of the super regional and six bases in the third game - both wins.

Hultzen has been Virginia's best pitcher throughout the season and remained unaffected by the pressures of a big game. He is 9-1 with a 2.09 ERA. If Hultzen leaves with a lead, Virginia might be in good shape. The bullpen allowed only one earned run in 16 innings last weekend, and it has maintained a 1.13 ERA throughout the postseason.

(Photos: Virginia coach Brian O'Connor, right, speaks at the baseball coaches traditional news conference. LSU coach Paul Mainieri looks on at left. O’Connor and Mainieri are old friends. Virginia's Jared King, left, receives a back rub from Matt Packer, center, as Kevin Arico signs an oversized baseball during baseball practice at Rosenblatt Stadium.)

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