April 10, 2012
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss baseball team travels to Metairie, La., Wednesday to face nationally ranked LSU in the annual Wally Pontiff Jr. Baseball Classic. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
This is the third-straight season the two teams have met at Zephyr Field as part of this event to honor the life of the former LSU baseball player with proceeds of the event going to local charities.
The Golden Eagles (19-12) are fresh off a three-game sweep at home against Alcorn State in which Southern Miss outscored the Braves 39-11 in the set.
Prior to a Tuesday night encounter with Alcorn State, LSU has posted a 25-7 record which includes a pair of victories over No. 1 Florida last weekend.
In a series that dates back to the 1928 season, LSU holds a 36-11 edge and currently won five-straight games between the two schools. The last USM win came in the final contest of a three-game set at the original Alex Box Stadium on Feb. 11, 2007. The Golden Eagles won that contest, 5-3.
Freshman Mason Robbins continues to lead the squad in hitting with a .367 average, while junior Dillon Day - who had a career-best 5-hit performance last weekend against Alcorn State - is next at .337.
Senior Ashley Graeter has raised his average to .331 and leads the team with 10 doubles on the year.
Redshirt freshman Michael Sterling continues to lead the team in on base percentage at .504 on the strength of walking 18 times and being hit by 19 pitches by opponents this season. His his hit by pitch total ranks No. 3 in the country after getting plunked seven times in the Alcorn State series. Sterling ranks tied for No. 2 on the Southern Miss single-season charts with Griff Israel (2002) and just two behind seasonal leader Kevin Coker, who got hit 21 times in 2006.
The Golden Eagles are set to send to freshman righthander Taylor Nunez (1-2, 2.18) of Slidell, La. He will be countered against LSU righthander Aaron Nola (3-1, 3.18) as both teams are expected to throw several pitchers in the contest.
Following the LSU contest, the Golden Eagles return to Conference USA action this weekend as part of the "Eagle Fest Weekend" festivities to face nationally ranked UCF. Southern Miss and the Knights play at 6 p.m., on Friday, before battling in a 3 p.m, Saturday contest. The series concludes with an 11:30 a.m., Sunday tilt.