LSU gets Vanderbilt in SEC tournament opener

Photo provided by Albert Cesare/Opelika-Auburn News -- LSU pitcher Jared Poche (16) throws a pitch during the first game of the SEC series between Auburn and LSU on Thursday, May 15, 2014, at Plainsman Park in Auburn, Ala. Show caption
Photo provided by Albert Cesare/Opelika-Auburn News -- LSU pitcher Jared Poche (16) throws a pitch during the first game of the SEC series between Auburn and LSU on Thursday, May 15, 2014, at Plainsman Park in Auburn, Ala.

LSU left-hander Jared Poché will get another crack at Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt, seeded No. 6 in the Southeastern Conference tournament, defeated No. 11-seed Tennessee 3-2 on Tuesday morning in the single-elimination portion of the tournament. Vanderbilt advances to play third-seeded LSU in the double-elimination round at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Poché, a freshman from Lutcher, had a start at Vanderbilt in March that didn’t go so well. In the first SEC start of his college career, he allowed four runs and five hits, including three doubles, and walked five. LSU lost that series in Nashville, dropping a Saturday doubleheader after winning Friday’s opener.

Vanderbilt plans to start left-hander Jared Miller (6-1, 3.88 earned run average). Against LSU in March, Miller allowed two hits and one run in 6.2 innings, getting the victory in game two of the series.

This game looms large for LSU's NCAA postseason positioning and is a rematch of last year's SEC tournament championship game, which LSU won. The two programs are in the mix to host an NCAA regional. Most have Vanderbilt (41-16) hosting. The Dores have a No.6 RPI. LSU (40-14-1), 16 in the RPI, seems to be on the fringe.

Mainieri fought for his team Monday, saying the Tigers have already done enough to earn a host bid. Those are announced Sunday.

He compared LSU’s résumé to Vanderbilt, which finished sixth in the league.

“This is the thing you have to ask yourself,” Mainieri said. “Does Vanderbilt deserve to host over us? They finished sixth in the SEC. Now, their RPI is 6. God bless them. But they’re sixth in the league. Why do we play 30 games? To determine the rankings, right?”

The loser of Wednesday’s LSU-Vanderbilt game must win three elimination games in three days to advance to Sunday’s title game. The winner, with a win Thursday, gets a bye Friday and advances to Saturday’s semifinals.

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