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June 6, 2012

Potent offense

There will certainly be a couple of quite obvious contrasts when LSU plays host to Stony Brook in the super-regional at The Box this weekend.

The Tigers have won six national championships. The Seawolves will be making their first appearance in a super-regional series.

LSU relies on strong pitching (3.20 ERA) and airtight defense (.981 fielding percentage). Stony Brook does possess good pitching (3.06 ERA) and solid defense (.979 fielding percentage). But, the Seawolves make their money at the plate (.336 batting average).

"It's unbelievable how small a strikeout total they have," LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. "I think they have four or five hitters who have struck out 15 times or less.

"Collegiate Baseball newspaper wrote a flattering article on Stony Brook's hitting. When they get two strikes, their hitters don't stride. They just put the ball in play. I don't the way they play. Looking at their stats, they remind me of Kentucky. They have tough outs one through nine."

Actually, Stony Brook has five regulars who have struck out less than 20 times. By comparison, LSU has one regular with fewer than 20 strikeouts (Raph Rhymes).

One former Stony Brook player has made his mark in the major leagues - closer Joe Nathan. In the current draft, the Seawolves had two players picked before LSU - center fielder Travis Jankowski (compensatory round/San Diego Padres) and catcher Pat Cantwell (third round/Texas Rangers).

"I talked to a major league executive Tuesday morning," Mainieri said. "He said that their leadoff hitter (Jankowski) will be leading off in the majors in the next few years."

Stony Brook won the America East regular season title the past two years. The Seawolves lost in the conference tournament in 2011, but went undefeated in the league tourney last month. The other members of the conference are Albany, Binghamton, Hartford, Maine and Maryland-Baltimore County.

Stony Brook, which joined Division I in 2000, has made four NCAA regional tournament appearances (2004, 2008, 2010 and 2012). The Seawolves won the American East Conference tournament in those four seasons.

Prior to this year, Stony Brook had a 1-6 record in NCAA regional play. The victory came against North Carolina State in 2010. Stony Brook has lost postseason games to two Southeastern Conference teams - Tennessee in 2004 and Vanderbilt in 2008).

"I have had some experience playing teams from the Northeast corridor," Mainieri said. "All of those teams have been passionate and emotional. It's hard to break their spirit. They are cocky. I told the players that Stony Brook will be very confident. They'll be very loud in their dugout."

Here is a breakdown of the two teams in the Baton Rouge super-regional series.

LSU (No. 1 seed)

Coach: Paul Mainieri
Record: 46-16 (overall), 19-11 (SEC, first place)
Record vs. teams in NCAA tournament: 18-12 (1-2 against Appalachian State, 3-0 against Arkansas, 2-1 against Florida, 1-2 against Kentucky, 1-0 against Louisiana-Monroe, 3-1 against Ole Miss, 2-0 against Oregon State, 2-3 against Mississippi State, 2-1 against South Carolina, 1-2 against Vanderbilt)
NCAA super-regional appearances: 9
NCAA super-regional titles: 5 (2000, 2003-04, 2008-09)

Team statistics
.291 BA, 3.20 ERA, .981 fielding percentage

Batting leaders
OF Raph Rhymes, Jr. - .452 BA, 4 HR, 52 RBI
1B/OF Mason Katz, Jr. - .323 BA, 11 HR, 49 RBI
SS Austin Nola, Sr. - .313 BA, 4 HR, 42 RBI
C Ty Ross, So. - .309 BA, 3 HR, 40 RBI
3B Tyler Hanover, Sr. - .288 BA, 1 HR, 28 RBI
DH Grant Dozar, Sr. - .265 BA, 3 HR, 19 RBI
2B JaCoby Jones, So. - .253 BA, 3 HR, 28 RBI
OF Arby Fields, Jr. - .205 BA, 0 HR, 12 RBI

Pitching leaders
Kevin Gausman, So. - 11-1, 2.72 ERA, .231 opponent's BA
Aaron Nola, Fr. - 7-4, 3.66 ERA, .245 opponent's BA
Ryan Eades, So. - 5-2, 3.55 ERA, .287 opponent's BA
Nick Goody, Jr. - 1-2, 2.51 ERA, 11 saves, .218 opponent's BA

Stony Brook (No. 4 seed)

Coach: Matt Senk
Record: 50-12 (overall), 21-3 (America East, first place)
Record vs. teams in NCAA tournament: 4-4 (2-1 against Central Florida, 0-3 against East Carolina, 1-0 against Miami, 1-0 against Missouri State)
NCAA super-regional appearances: 1
NCAA super-regional titles: 0

Team statistics
.336 BA, 3.06 ERA, .979 fielding percentage

Batting leaders
OF Travis Jankowski, Jr. - .417 BA, 5 HR, 46 RBI
3B William Carmona, Jr. - .393 BA, 12 HR, 70 RBI
2B Maxx Tissenbaum, Jr. - .390 BA, 3 HR, 48 RBI
OF Steven Goldstein, Fr. - .346 BA, 3 HR, 37 RBI
DH Kevin Krause, Fr. - .339 BA, 3 HR, 37 RBI
SS Cole Peragine, Fr. - .328 BA, 0 HR, 39 RBI
C Pat Cantwell, Sr. - .312 BA, 1 HR, 32 RBI
OF Tanner Nivins, Jr. - .308 BA, 2 HR, 34 RBI

Pitching leaders
Tyler Johnson, Sr. - 11-1, 2.13 ERA, .255 opponent's BA
Brandon McNitt, So. - 8-3, 2.69 ERA, .242 opponent's BA
Evan Stecko-Haley, Sr. - 7-3, 3.47 ERA, .241 opponent's BA
Frankie Vanderka, So. - 2-2, 2.28 ERA, 5 saves, .176 opponent's BA

Here is the Baton Rouge super-regional schedule.

Game 1: Friday, 11 a.m. - Stony Brook vs. LSU
Game 2: Saturday, 11 a.m. - Stony Brook vs. LSU
Game 3: Sunday, noon - Stony Brook vs. LSU (if necessary)



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