Behind Enemy Lines: Auburn-LSU preview with LSU Wire’s Kyle Richardson

Auburn baseball earned a much-needed series win last weekend by taking down No. 4 South Carolina at Founders Park in Columbia.

This week, Auburn will need to keep that same energy alive as they welcome the No. 1 LSU Tigers to Plainsman Park for a crucial three-game set with the Bayou Bengals.

LSU has remained a top team for most of the season and for good reason. The Tigers lineup features four batters that have over 10 home runs this season, led by NC State transfer Tommy White, who has 16. White also leads the country in RBI with 73. Dylan Crews is another bat to watch, as he is hitting .486 with 72 hits, 13 homers, and 53 RBI.

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On the mound, Paul Skenes provides a dominant arm with 124 strikeouts heading into the series. His 124 strikeouts are the most in the nation and are 27 strikeouts more than the No. 2 pitcher, Florida‘s Hurston Waldrep.

What else do we need to know about LSU ahead of this weekend? We called someone who has had their finger on the pulse of LSU baseball all season long, LSU Wire’s Kyle Richardson, to help out.

Here is this week’s edition of Behind Enemy Lines with LSU Wire’s Kyle Richardson.

The best around


The Tigers have enjoyed a season of being the No. 1 team virtually all season. What is the buzz from the LSU fan base when it comes to the team’s success?


The buzz around this team is that they have the talent to go all the way to Omaha and win the College World Series. That has been the expectation since the season has started. The batting order can hit 1-9. The biggest issue right now is the injuries to the pitching staff.

Cooking the bacon


What would you say has been the most impressive series win of the SEC slate to this point in the season?

I think the series win against Arkansas is what got the ball rolling. Second SEC series of the year and playing against one of the best teams in the country. We lost game one 9-3 in extra innings, but came back and run-ruled the Hogs 12-2 in game two and beat them 14-5 in game three.


A confident wager


Last weekend, LSU swept Alabama at the Box. What were some of the main takeaways from last weekend’s series?

The main takeaways from last week is that this team never gives up. Hayden Travinski and Gavin Dugas are two of the most clutch players on this team. When the Tigers need a big hit, they always pull us through. That’s the good news. The bad news is that all of the injuries to our pitching staff are piling up and the bullpen is running short on quality arms. Other than Paul Skenes, LSU’s game two (Ty Floyd) and game three (Christian Little) starters did not have a quality start against the Tide.


Tommy Tanks


How valuable has the addition of Tommy White to the lineup been for LSU this season?

Tommy White was a monster as a Designated Hitter for NC State last season. He broke the single season home run record for the Wolfpack as a Freshman. If that doesn’t scream “Cleanup hitter” I don’t know what does. He isn’t on pace to hit as many homers in his first season at LSU (16) as he did last year (27), but he still has plenty of games to surpass that. He has been an RBI machine as he leads the team in RBI (73) the next closest guy to him in that stat is Dylan Crews. Crews only has 53.


Wrecking Crews


Four LSU batters have over 10 home runs this season. Who is the most dangerous bat in the Tiger lineup?

The most dangerous man in the LSU lineup is Dylan Crews. That isn’t a knock on the other three guys (White, Jones, and Dugas), but Crews is probably going to be the No. 1 pick in the 2023 MLB Draft. In 44 games this season, Crews is hitting .486 with a .633 OBP, 13 homers, 53 RBI, and 49 walks. There have been times this season where he stepped into the batters box with two runners already on base and he was intentionally walked. That is how dangerous he is.


The Skenes Machine


Paul Skenes has been incredible in the weekend rotation this season. What makes him special, and who are the other names to watch on the mound this weekend?

Paul Skenes is an anomaly. He is 6-foot-6, 247-pounds and throws over 100 MPH. More importantly than that, he can locate his pitches. Skenes is 8-1 with a 1.93 ERA this season and has only had less than 10 strikeouts in two starts this year. He struck out 8 in three innings in a rain delayed game against South Carolina and he only struck out 9 in six innings against Alabama last weekend. Skenes is a confident guy. He loves talking smack. You’ll see it this weekend. When he strikes someone out, he is juiced up. He likes to jaw with the hitters a little bit to try and get in their heads. Does it come off as cocky at times? Sure. But the guy backs it up. Ty Floyd will be the game two starter and Christian Little will likely be the game three starter. The guys you will see out of the bullpen will probably be Riley Cooper, Gavin Guidry, and Nate Ackenhausen. Javen Coleman may make another appearance this weekend as he continues to try to get back into the swing of things.


Kings of the Hill


What does LSU need to do well in order to earn another series win on the road?

The main thing LSU needs is a quality start from all three starters. Floyd and Little need to help the ailing bullpen out by going at least five innings. It’s okay if they give up two or three runs. This offense can get those back at any given time.

(LSU) Tigers on top

Mikala Compton/American-Statesman

What is your prediction for the series?

LSU takes the series 2-1. As I’ve mentioned before, the pitching woes for LSU will be the cause of the Tigers dropping one game. I expect the games to be close.

Story originally appeared on Auburn Wire