NCAA Baseball Tournament 2013: Baton Rouge Regional Preview -- The Teams LSU Will Host

Crystal Logiudice-US PRESSWIRE

The Tigers play hosts to Cajuns with controversial names, Bearkats who don't know how to spell their name and more Tigers

Looking at the NCAA baseball tournament regionals that involve SEC teams

BATON ROUGE REGIONAL
Winner faces winner of the Blacksburg Regional

(1) LSU
RPI: 4
Record: 52-9, 23-7 SEC

Let's state the obvious: The Tigers are good. Let's state the only slightly less obvious: The Tigers are really, really good. The 52 wins probably told you that. And if that's not enough of a clue, then look at Mason Katz's 1.106 OPS and 14 home runs. Check out the other four members of the LSU lineup whose OBPs top .400. Take a peek at Aaron Nola's 1.94 ERA, his four complete games or his 105 Ks in 102 innings. (Or the neat fact that his 1.94 ERA is off an opponents' batting average of .194.) And take time while you're looking at that to notice that there's not a single pitcher on the staff with an ERA of 4.00 or above. Anything less than running away with this regional would be a disappointment.

(2) Louisiana (-Lafayette)
RPI: 22
Record: 41-18, 19-11 Sun Belt

One of the teams aware of how good LSU is would be the Ragin Cajuns, who got pounded by the Tigers 11-2 early in the season. (LSU also happens to be one of the few teams in the state not involved in a dispute with Lousiana, or Louisiana-Lafayette, about whether they should just go by "Louisiana" or whether that's presumptuous.) The problem with facing Louisiana and / or Louisiana-Lafayette is that the Cajuns can pretty easily put up runs; they lead Division I with 72 home runs on the year. Guess the BBCOR bats haven't affected them. That's lead to 453 runs, good for fourth in the country. As for the pitching staff -- the offense is really outstanding. There are three pitchers on the staff with double-digit innings who have an ERA below 4.15, so solid outings by the best starters might get the Cajuns some wins early, but they're going to need the rest of the staff to pitch better if they're going to advance out of Baton Rouge.

(3) Sam Houston State
RPI: 47
Record: 37-20, 20-7 Southland

The spelling-impaired Bearkats were last seen by SEC fans as they won an 11-inning game by a 9-8 score to earn a season split with Texas A&M. Luke Plucheck leads the team with eight home runs and a .505 slugging percentage, while Jessie Plumlee's .429 on-base percentage is tops on the team. Overall, SHSU isn't the heaviest-hitting team in the world, but they're not in the heaviest-hitting conference in the world, so they're .291 batting average is second in the league. Combine that with a 3.71 ERA that ranks third in the Southland and you've got a recipe for winning a lot of games in the regular season. We'll see if it works as well in the postseason.

(4) Jackson State
RPI: 252
Record: 34-20, 19-5 SWAC

One of the benefits of being a national seed is that you sometimes get really, really weak opponents in your regional. Like the SWAC champions who are one of the lowest RPIs, if not the lowest RPI, in the whole tournament. There are, after all, only 298 teams in Division I baseball. With a 4.66 ERA and a .285 batting average, it's little wonder the Tigers are so lightly regarded. If nothing else, Baton Rouge will provide a change of scenery -- Jackon State's average home attendance this year was 59. No, that's not a typo. Russell Desmond's .585 slugging percentage means he's dangerous, but this is not a team that's going to intimidate its opponents very well.

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