LSU begins series vs. Bryant tonight

Kristian Garic
February 22, 2019 - 1:06 pm

The Tigers are 4 and 0 in the young baseball season and are poised to host Bryant University this weekend for a three game series at Alex Box stadium.  LSU is coming off a mid-week win over Southeastern 6-5.  Bryant won two of three games last weekend against Abilene Christian. The Bryant Bulldogs hit five home runs in their season opening series last weekend.  Here are the match ups I’m intrigued by in this series with Bryant.

Zack Hess:  In his first start last Friday against ULM, the hard throwing right hander went 3 and 2/3rd innings giving up five runs, four runs were earned by ULM.  Hess struggled with command, issuing two walks as well.  LSU coach Paul Maineiri emphatically stated in the preseason that Hess is their Friday night “guy” for the entire season.  If that is to remain, Hess has to be more consistent.  Last year as the Friday night starter, Hess would have a dominant outing followed up with a dud the next week.  Hess has to dominate week in and week out to be a Friday night starter in the SEC.  Let’s see if last week was just a blip on the radar, or if it will be a carryover pattern from last season. Bryant will send sophomore right hander Tyler Mattison to the mound against LSU.  Mattison had a strong outing last week throwing five strong innings with five strikeouts.

Defense:  LSU is typically the best, or one of the best, fielding teams in the country every year.  However the Tigers have committed four errors in the first four games of the season.  That is something that Paul Mainieri will not tolerate very long, and if there has been a scab to pick at on this Tigers team it would be the defense.  The Tigers fielding percentage of .967 is about twenty points lower than their average. LSU has to improve this before they get into conference play March 15th against Kentucky.

Bryant has never played LSU:  Bryant and LSU are set to meet for the first time ever.  The Bulldogs however, have played at Alex Box stadium as a No. 3 seed in a regional LSU hosted in 2014.  This will be the first time Bryant has ever played a No. 1 team in their program’s history.  Bryant has faced 10 nationally ranked teams in their history, and are 3 and 7 in those games.  The Bulldogs knocked off No. 22 Kentucky in 2016.

Bulldogs big dogs:  Bryant is a quality baseball program with several top dogs that can make life miserable for LSU.  Freshman Jake Gustin went 5 for 11 with five RBI in the series against Abilene Christian last weekend.  Senior Nick Angelini had four RBI last week and scored three runs.  Junior James Ciliento homered and scored five times. Cilento is Bryants best hitter and will bat leadoff against LSU

At the plate:  LSU his hitting .328 as a team with 11 doubles and six home runs.  Senior Antoine Duplantis and Junior Josh Smith are off to incredible starts.  Duplantis has driven in 11 runs which leads the team.  Josh Smith is absolutely ripping the cover off the baseball hitting .625 through four games (10-16) with eight runs scored. At the bottom of the lineup Hal Hughes is hitting just .167 in four games with two hits in twelve at bats.

On the mound:  LSU has issued 21 walks while striking out 37 hitters and are holding opponents to a .241 batting average.  That average is outstanding, but the Tigers have to improve the walk totals issued by the pitching staff.  Saturday’s starter for Bryant, Vito Morgese, had some control issues last weekend walking six Abilene Christian hitters.

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