COLUMBIA, Mo. — Two hours before their teams faced each other Friday evening, LSU coach Paul Mainieri and Missouri coach Tim Jamieson stood next to each other behind the batter’s box.

The two hadn’t seen each other for a long time. They smiled, laughed and talked for more than 20 minutes.

This is the first trip the LSU baseball program has ever made to the Missouri campus, and thankfully for Mainieri, there’s a very familiar face to welcome him — Jamieson, his former teammate.

“We played together for two years at the University of New Orleans, 1978 and 1979, and we’ve maintained a great friendship ever since then,” Mainieri said. “We’ve followed each other’s careers very closely and always root for each other.”

Mainieri, who was a second baseman, and Jamieson, a catcher, have kept closely in touch throughout the years since their playing days at UNO. Their conversation before the game ranged from their families to their careers, not about baseball.

Two hours later, though, it was a different story. The friends had to face each other, but it wasn’t the first time.

“We played each other twice when I was coaching at Notre Dame, and we ironically played in New Orleans at a neutral site,” Mainieri said. “He won one, and we won one, but now we can’t avoid each other anymore because we’re in the same conference.”

Back in the fall of 2011, when Missouri was rumored to be making the jump from the Big 12 Conference to the Southeastern Conference, Mainieri was one of the first people Jamieson called. Jamieson wanted to know more about the conference, receiving first-hand information not only from his friend, but also a very successful SEC coach.

But was Mainieri excited that he’d have more opportunities to face his former college teammate?

“When I hung up the phone, I thought to myself, ‘Darn it.’ I just don’t like competing against very close friends,” Mainieri said. “Because I root for them.”

LSU has won 18 of its last 19 games, including Friday’s 2-0 victory. LSU will start junior right-hander Ryan Eades on Saturday and sophomore left-hander Cody Glenn on Sunday, as usual. The weather will be in the low 60s both days.

“We just have to put our friendship on the shelf and do our jobs,” Mainieri said. “And when you have to do your job, winning does not taste as good when you care about the person in the other dugout.

“It sure beats losing, though.”

Mainieri luncheon Thursday

Mainieri will host a luncheon open to the public at noon Thursday at the L’Auberge Resort on River Road. The luncheon will be at the Bon Temps Buffet, located on the main floor at L’Auberge. The all-you-can-eat buffet charge is $13.95 per person.

Mainieri will discuss the Tigers’ season so far and look ahead to their weekend series versus Kentucky in Alex Box Stadium. The luncheon will include a question-and-answer session with the audience.

Mainieri will also host a luncheon at L’Auberge on May 7.