Glenn Guilbeau / Gannett Louisiana
BATON ROUGE – They may not be looking at the scoreboard or their phones during their series at Auburn Thursday through Sunday, but LSU’s baseball players will be clicking for updates afterwards.
“I mean it definitely will be hard not to,” LSU shortstop Alex Bregman said as the No. 10 Tigers prepared to leave for their regular season finale series at Auburn that begins Thursday night at 6.
LSU (37-14-1, 14-11-1 Southeastern Conference) is in sixth place in the league standings heading into the series against Auburn (28-25, 10-17 SEC). The Tigers will need some help from other teams to finish in the top four of the SEC, which means it will not have to play in the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala., until Wednesday.
Should LSU finish fifth or lower, it will have to play in the SEC Tournament on Tuesday, which means it will face a single-elimination game. The Tigers could win the West outright this weekend or finish as low as 10th.
“We know we have to take care of our business first,” said Bregman, who hit a grand slam home run and totaled eight RBIs in a 4-for-5 night in the Tigers’ 27-0 victory over Northwestern State at Alex Box Stadium Wednesday night. It was the largest margin of victory in the LSU baseball program’s history as five Tiger pitchers combined for LSU’s first no-hitter since 1979.
“If we don’t win the games we need to win, there is no shot of us winning the West or making the top four in the league,” Bregman said. “But I think there’s a chance we can. I really do.”
LSU’s winning scenarios involve Ole Miss, which is 17-10 in the SEC for second and plays at 13-14 Texas A&M Thursday night through Saturday, as well as Mississippi State and Alabama, which are 16-11 and 14-12 in the SEC, respectively, and play one another at Alabama this weekend. State is tied for third in the SEC overall standings at 16-11 with South Carolina and Vanderbilt. Alabama is a game behind LSU in the loss column at 14-12. Florida leads the SEC at 19-8.
“We have to win first, then see what the other teams do,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “That’s all we can think about – how we play. I feel like we’re going into Auburn with a lot of confidence.”
Here are the scenarios for success for the Tigers:
1.LSU WILL WIN THE WEST AND FINISH IN THE TOP FOUR IF – The Tigers sweep the three games at Auburn. Ole Miss loses its series at Texas A&M. And Alabama beats Mississippi State at least once.
2.LSU WILL WIN THE WEST AND FINISH IN THE TOP FOUR IF – The Tigers win two of three at Auburn. Texas A&M sweeps Ole Miss, which is unlikely. And Mississippi State beats Alabama only once.
3.LSU WILL FINISH IN THE TOP FOUR EVEN IF IT DOES NOT WIN THE WEST IF – The Tigers sweep Auburn. Ole Miss wins its series at Texas A&M. And Mississippi State loses at least once at Alabama. Should State sweep Alabama, this scenario would still happen if South Carolina or Vanderbilt do not sweep the other in their series this weekend.
4.LSU WILL FINISH IN THE TOP FOUR EVEN IF IT DOES NOT WIN THE WEST IF – The Tigers beat Auburn at least twice. Ole Miss beats Texas A&M at least once. And Mississippi State beats Alabama only once.
“I believe in everybody on our team,” Bregman said. “And I believe in our coaches and everybody in this organization. I think we’ll have a good weekend this weekend, and I don’t think we’ll be focused on anything but winning the games that we play.”
PITCHING MATCH-UPS: Freshman left-hander Jared Poche (7-3, 2.55 ERA), LSU, versus senior right-hander Dillon Ortman (9-3, 2.01 ERA), Auburn, 6 p.m. Thursday. Junior right-hander Aaron Nola (8-1, 1.43 ERA), LSU, versus senior left-hander Michael O’Neal (3-5, 3.82 ERA), Auburn, 6 p.m. Friday. Both teams have listed their starters for Saturday’s 1 p.m. finale as to be announced.
TV INFORMATION: Only the 1 p.m. game on Saturday will be televised. That will be on Fox Sports Net.