LSU's Mainieri gets first taste of Tulane rivalry as coach

By Jason Glas The Daily Reveille

February 27, 2007

Baton Rouge, LA (CSTV U-WIRE) -- A tradition that started 114 years ago will begin a new chapter as coach Paul Mainieri gets his first shot against cross-town rival Tulane University tonight at 6:30 p.m. in Alex Box Stadium.

"It's the biggest game of the year because it's the next game on our schedule," Mainieri said. "You hate to put added pressure on yourself by saying this game is more important than any other game. At the same time you understand it's going to be louder, more exciting, and it gets your adrenaline pumping even harder."

Mainieri and the Tigers enter the game 7-3 after winning four of their last five, including two of three against the University of Central Florida this past weekend.

Freshmen outfielders Jared Mitchell and Blake Dean were the most productive players on offense this past weekend for the Tigers.

"To me it's all about coming out here and working hard everyday, and if you work hard everyday, good things are bound to happen," Mitchell said. "Lucky for me they're happening early, and hopefully it will keep paying off."

Mitchell batted .462 with one home run, three RBIs and four runs scored. Dean hit .455 on the weekend to continue his assault of opposing pitching with four RBIs and one run scored.

Dean leads the team with a .406 batting average, and Mitchell is second behind Dean with a .333 average.

Although this will be Mainieri's first time facing Tulane (5-4) as a coach, he is no stranger to the LSU-Tulane tradition, having faced the Green Wave as a player in 1976, 1978 and 1979.

"When you play against Tulane for three years when you are at UNO or LSU, you learn that it's a part of life, that you're supposed to not like them," Mainieri said. "The reality is I have a lot of respect for them, so nobody is going to have to convince me how important the game is."

Sophomore Louis Coleman will get the start tonight for the Tigers. The right-hander is 2-1 as a starter with a 5.52 ERA in 14 and two-thirds innings pitched.

Coleman's last outing came against Northwestern State when he threw six and one-third innings. Matching up against Coleman will be senior Matt Goebel, who has not started for the Green Wave since 2004.

He mentioned the possibility of trying sophomore Buzzy Haydel at first after junior Chris Jackson returns and moving freshman Sean Ochinko at catcher.

Junior shortstop Michael Hollander understands the importance of the game for everyone involved with the Tigers.

"We are the two best teams in the state. Most of the guys have a bunch of buddies on the team, and it means a lot to the fans and to both coaches, I'm sure," Hollander said. "It's as big of an out-of-conference game that we're going to have."

(C) 2007 The Daily Reveille via CSTV U-WIRE

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