BATON ROUGE, La. -- When Stony Brook coach Matt Senk emerged from the indoor batting cage at LSU's Alex Box Stadium Thursday, he chuckled as he approached a swarm of local media.

In case Senk hadn't realized it, he and the Seawolves are in a whole different college baseball world than they have ever encountered.

No. 16-ranked Stony Brook (50-12) meets No. 1 LSU (46-16) in the best-of-three Baton Rouge Super Regional starting at noon Friday. The winner advances to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

And unlike most places in the country, especially those in the pro sports-oriented Northeast, college baseball here gets an abundance of attention and passion from a fan base that likely will pack 10,000 into the stadium the next few days.

LSU is seeking its 16th CWS trip and a shot at winning a seventh national championship, all since 1991. The Tigers have hosted five Super Regionals since 2000 and have moved on to Omaha each time. Stony Brook, 1-6 in its first three regional appearances before going 4-1 in this year's Coral Gables Regional, is in its first Super Regional.

"This is everything you want when you decide you want to play college baseball," Senk said. "If you're going to make it to a Super Regional, this may as well be the place you come to. There's no program with more history in college baseball than LSU."

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SBU had seven players selected in the Major League Baseball draft this week. Intimidated? Not this team. Eager to see if it can keep an improbable run going is more like it.

"We've got a hostile environment and we're eager to embrace it," centerfielder and leadoff hitter Travis Jankowski said. He was the first Stony Brook player picked in the draft, going to the Padres with the 44th overall pick.

Sophomore righthander Brandon McNitt (8-3, 2.69 ERA) will get the first chance to embrace the challenge from the mound. Senk announced him as the starter Thursday and said ace Tyler Johnson is on deck for Saturday's game after he threw 230 pitches in two starts three days apart at the regional.

LSU coach Paul Mainieri will counter with freshman Aaron Nola (7-4, 3.66), who started the Tigers' regional opener and struck out a career-high 10 in eight innings, allowing one run and four hits.

Mainieri, who spent 14 seasons at Notre Dame, has insisted for three days that his team won't take the Seawolves lightly. "This is a legitimate team," he said. "This is an SEC-caliber team."

Senk returned the praise but also said he doesn't expect his team to be intimidated by the Tigers and what figures to be a raucous crowd.

Stony Brook enters with a .336 team batting average, led by Jankowski's .417 and 36 steals. The Seawolves have a 3.06 team ERA.

"We are a team that, when we're playing our best, we're strong in all facets of the game," Senk said. "We want to try to diminish the awe factor to some degree, but this isn't something you get to experience too often. I hope we can feed off of it instead of being intimidated by it."