TigerDetails - LSU opens NCAA regional play Friday in Hattiesburg
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LSU opens NCAA regional play Friday in Hattiesburg

LSU fifth-year senior pitcher Ma'Khail Hilliard, who's a combined 13-1 the last two seasons, leads the Tigers into the 2022 NCAA tournament.
LSU fifth-year senior pitcher Ma'Khail Hilliard, who's a combined 13-1 the last two seasons, leads the Tigers into the 2022 NCAA tournament.

For the first time in its 127-year baseball history, LSU is opening NCAA tournament play for the second consecutive season on the road.

When the 2022 tourney bracket was announced Monday, the Tigers (38-20) learned they are the No. 2 seed in the Hattiesburg Regional at Pete Taylor Park. They play Friday vs. No. 3 seed Kennesaw State (35-26) of the Atlantic Sun Conference at 6 p.m. while host and top-seed Southern Miss (43-16) takes on No. 4 seed Army (31-23) at 1 p.m.

The games will be televised on ESPN+.

"I’m just really excited for this team, to be going to the NCAA tournament, to have a 38-win regular season while going through a lot of adversity," LSU first-year head coach Jay Johnson said. "To do all of that and to play the road schedule that we did, I think it’s a great accomplishment, and it should give our team a lot of confidence going forward. Right now, all that matters is going forward.”

Ticket prices include $115 for all-session chairback seats, while all-session general admission passes and wheelchair seating will be $90. All-Session general admission tickets for students for all four competing institutions will be $45.

All sessions regional tickets are available to request online only for Southern Miss season ticket holders and current 2022 Eagle Club members at this time using their online account through SouthernMiss.com.

Fans can purchase tickets by calling 1-800-844-TICK, visiting SouthernMissTickets.com, or in person at the Pat Ferlise Center on campus from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday.

Nine SEC teams received NCAA invites including four host schools No. 1 overall national seed Tennessee, No. 5 overall national seed Texas A&M, Florida and Auburn. Five league teams --- LSU, Georgia, Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss (one of the last four teams making the 64-team field) -- play in road regionals.

With the six-time national champion Tigers earning their 10 straight NCAA tourney berth and 33rd in the last 37 years dating back to the second season of Skip Bertman’s legendary 18-year head coaching career, Johnson becomes just the second first-year Tigers’ head coach to take a team to the NCAA tournament.

The first LSU head coach to accomplish the feat was Smoke Laval, Bertman’s successor.

“It’s a great regional field in Hattiesburg and we’re excited to be a part of it," Johnson said. "My teams (at Arizona) have gotten to Omaha entirely from the road, and they gotten to Omaha from our home stadium, so I know it can be done both ways."

For Johnson, it’s his fourth NCAA tourney invite. Previously at Arizona, he went 17-7 in six years (including the COVID-shortened 2020 season including trips to the College World Series in 2016 when the Wildcats lost in the championship finals to Coastal Carolina and last season when they were eliminated with consecutive losses to Vanderbilt and Stanford.

Last season, LSU won a road regional for the first time by losing the opener and winning four straight including beating host Oregon twice in the Eugene Regional. The Tigers advanced to the Knoxville Super Regional where they lost two straight to finish the season 38-25 and end Paul Mainieri’s 11 seasons as head coach.

Besides year's regional championship in Eugene, the Tigers traditionally have not fared well in road regionals going 18-14 in including prior to last season going a combined 4-8 losing four straight regionals in Corvallis (Oregon State), Los Angeles (UCLA) Houston (Rice) and Metairie (Tulane).

The winner of the Hattiesburg Regional will advance to play the winner of the Coral Gables Regional hosted by No., 6 overall national seed Miami (39-18).

Johnson expects to have previously-injured starters All-SEC first-team selection Jacob Berry and second baseman Cade Doughty return to the lineup. Berry (finger, wrist) and Doughty (shoulder) did not play in the SEC tournament last week.

“They’re two Top 50 draft picks," Johnson said. "We’re a better team when we have those two guys back in the lineup.”