Ole Miss - MSU Baseball Series Preview

Mississippi State and Ole Miss square off in a three-game Southeastern Conference series this weekend on the campus of Ole Miss.

Weather - Thursday should see temperatures in the high to low 70s during the game. Winds should be from the southwest at 7 to 8 mph. There is a 40% chance for scattered and strong storms. | Friday should see temperatures in the low 70s to high 60s with winds from the southwest at 5 to 8 mph. There is a 60% chance of rain. | Saturday should see temperatures in the low 60s to high 50s with winds from the northwest at 7 to 8 mph. There is a slight chance of rain.

Gametimes (CT) - Thursday 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU-TV) | Friday 7:00 p.m. (SportSouth-TV) | Saturday 7:00 p.m. (SportSouth-TV)

Coaches - Mike Bianco's teams have an overall record of 404-227 during his ten-year career. His teams have a 166-132 SEC record and have won one SEC overall championship and two Western Division conference championships. Nine of his ten teams have advanced to NCAA Regional play with four moving on to Super Regional play. None have played in the College World Series. His teams have a 20-19 NCAA postseason record.

John Cohen, who is in his third season at Mississippi State, came to State from Kentucky where he won the overall SEC Championship in 2006. At Kentucky, John Cohen's teams were 175-112 overall and 63-85 in SEC play. Last year's MSU team was 23-33. During his three seasons as MSU's head man, he has an overall record of 48-62 and is 15-44 in SEC games. In five seasons at Kentucky and one at Mississippi State, he has taken two of his teams to NCAA post-season play, although neither team advanced to Super Regional play. His teams have an overall NCAA post-season record of 4-4.

Ole Miss Home/Mississippi State Road Records - Ole Miss is 20-8 at home while Mississippi State is 9-8 on the road.

Expected Pitching Rotations - Ole Miss is expected to start junior LHP Matt Crouse (6-4, 3.72 ERA) Thursday night, junior RHP David Goforth (4-6, 4.79 ERA) Friday night and junior LHP Austin Wright (4-4, 4.92 ERA) Saturday night.

(Stats come from last 3 SEC series)

Crouse, in his last three SEC starts, has given up 13 runs (all earned) on 25 hits, 5 walks with 10 strikeouts in 16 innings. After allowing just 2 runs in 6 innings against Auburn, he has given up 11 runs in 10 innings in his last two outings. He'll normally throw 5 to 6 innings before coming out. One advantage that Crouse may have going in against MSU is the fact that MSU is only hitting .218 against lefties in SEC games.

Goforth has given up 12 runs (11 earned) in 15.2 innings in his last three starts. In those outings he has given up 17 hits and walked 5 while striking out 15. He did have his best outing of the three starts in his last appearance against South Carolina. He allowed just 2 runs in 6 innings.

Wright has struggled of late. In his last three starts he has given up 12 runs (11 earned) in 10.2 innings. He's lasted no longer than 4 innings in the three outings.

Mississippi State is expected to start sophomore LHP Luis Pollorena (6-3, 2.61 ERA) Thursday, junior LHP Nick Routt (1-2, 3.66 ERA) Friday night and sophomore RHP Chris Stratton (5-5, 4.84 ERA) Saturday night.

(Stats come from last 3 SEC series)

Up until last weekend, Pollorena had been one of MSU's primary lefties out of the pen, but he started the Friday night game against Tennessee. He gave up 5 runs in 5.1 innings, allowing 11 hits and walking 2 while striking out 1. An advantage Pollorena may have against Ole Miss is the fact that more than half of their hitters are lefthanded.

Routt, in his last three outings, has allowed 7 runs (3 earned) on 12 hits and 8 walks while striking out 12 in 13.2 innings. He had been on a pitch count for most of the season while coming back from an injury, but threw over 120 pitches in his last outing, which was one of his best games of the season (6 IP, 3 R, 2 ER)

Stratton was moved to the Sunday starting spot last weekend and responded well, allowing just 2 runs in 5.2 innings of work. In his last three starts combined he has given up 12 runs (9 earned) in 14.2 innings, but in his last two he has given up 5 runs (4 earned) in 9.2 innings of work.

Relief Pitching - Ole Miss' relief pitching for SEC action consists mainly of seven guys, junior RHP Jake Morgan (3-0, 5 S, 0.00 ERA), senior RHP Eric Callender (1-0, 1 S, 3.58 ERA), freshman RHP Bobby Wahl (0-0, 4 S, 4.07 ERA), sophomore RHP Brett Huber (2-1, 4 S, 3.42 ERA), freshman RHP Mike Mayers (1-0, 0 S, 5.28 ERA), senior RHP Trent Rothlin (2-0, 0 S, 2.31 ERA), and junior RHP R.J. Hively (1-2, 0 S, 9.00 ERA).

(Stats come from last 3 SEC series)

Morgan is Ole Miss' closer and he's been extremely effective in that role. After missing several SEC series due to an injury, he has come back strong and thrown in 2 games, allowing 0 runs on 3 hits and no walks in 3.2 innings.

Callender appears to be a middle reliever who is usually the first pitcher called out of the bullpen. In the last three SEC series he has been somewhat decent in that role, allowing 5 runs (all earned) on 12 hits and 0 walks while striking out 4 in 7 innings. He'll usually eat up a couple of innings, although he's also going to allow a run or two.

Wahl had been used as a closer while Morgan rehabbed. In the last three series he has thrown in 4 games and been up and down. In the first two games he allowed 0 runs in 2.1 innings but in his last two outings he has given up 6 runs (5 earned) in 5.2 innings.

Huber has been used mostly in middle relief of late. In the last three series, he has pitched in 4 games and given up 4 runs (all earned) in 5.1 innings. He has been very good of late, giving up no runs on 1 hit in 3 innings in his last two appearances.

Mayers has been used in mop up duty in his three appearances in the last three SEC series. He gave up 3 runs in 4.1 innings.

Rothlin, like Mayers, has been used when the game was out of hand. In his two outings he pitched well, giving up 0 runs in 1.2 innings.

Hively has also been used in mop duty, throwing in 2 games, while giving up 5 runs in 3.2 innings.

You can expect Mississippi State to use upwards of seven pitchers in relief, including junior RHP Caleb Reed (0-1, 9 S, 0.88 ERA), freshman RHP Taylor Stark (2-0, 2 S, 2.35 ERA), junior LHP Tim Statz (0-1, 0 S, 4.00 ERA), sophomore LHP Chad Girodo (2-0, 0 S, 6.04 ERA), junior RHP Devin Jones (2-5, 0 S, 4.44 ERA), freshman RHP Daryl Norris (2-0, 1 S, 1.83 ERA) and freshman LHP C.T. Bradford (0-0, 1 S, 7.20 ERA).

(Stats come from last 3 SEC series)

Reed has been dominating the entire year in his role as MSU's closer. And he's been just as dominating in the last three series, throwing in 6 games. In those games he has thrown 10.1 innings, giving up just 1 run while striking out 13.

Stark, who can be a middle reliever or a closer, has been very effective most of the year but in the last three series he has given up 4 runs (all earned) in 4.1 innings. But he was very effective in his last appearance, which was against Tennessee last weekend when he threw 2.2 innings, allowing no runs on no hits and 1 walk while striking out 4. He used a fastball that topped out at 94 mph to go along with his devastating slider.

Statz, a middle reliever, has been solid during most of his SEC appearances. In the last three series he has appeared in 3 games, allowing 1 run in 3 innings. He's more of a lefty matchup guy.

Girodo is a lefty matchup guy who has thrown in 2 games during the last three SEC series, giving up no runs in 3 innings of work. Due to how well he did against Ole Miss in the Governor's Cup game (1 R, 3.2 IP, 5 K), he may be used in long relief this weekend.

Jones, who began the year as a starter, has been moved to the bullpen. In the last three SEC series he has thrown in 4 games, allowing 5 runs (4 earned) in 5.1 innings. He did have a good outing in his last appearance, giving up no runs in 2 innings of work.

Norris has been used a couple of times during the last three series, giving up 2 runs in 1.1 innings of work. If he's on he can be used as a long reliever.

Bradford, due to an injury, hasn't been used in the last three SEC series, but he appears to be healthy now. He threw an inning Tuesday night and gave up no runs in his 1 inning of work. I could see him being used as a lefty closer if the need arises.

Who's Hot at the Plate and Who's Not in the Last 5 Games - Ole Miss has four players who are hitting well of late, including sophomore Alex Yarbrough who is hitting .389 (7-for-18, 5 RBI), senior Miles Hamblin who comes in at .375 (6-for-16, 7 RBI), sophomore Tanner Mathis at .333 (8-for-24, 1 RBI), and freshman Will Allen at .300 (6-for-20, 1 RBI).

Others include freshman Austin Anderson at .278 (5-for-18, 3 RBI), senior Matt Tracy at .267 (4-for-15, 2 RBI), junior Matt Snyder at .263 (5-for-19, 8 RBI), freshman Preston Overbey at .182 (2-for-11, 1 RBI), junior Blake Newaln at .118 (2-for-17, 0 RBI) and in part-time duty junior Zach Kirksey at .000 (0-for-6, 0 RBI).

Mississippi State also has four players who are hitting the ball well. Freshman Adam Frazier is hitting .538 (7-for-13, 2 RBI), followed by senior Jarrod Parks at .533 (8-for-15, 2 RBI), senior Nick Vickerson who comes in at .529 (9-for-17, 8 RBI) and senior Jaron Shepherd who is hitting at a .412 clip (7-for-17, 6 RBI).

Others include junior Brent Brownlee who is hitting .294 (5-for-17, 7 RBI), freshman Hunter Renfroe who comes in at .273 (3-for-11, 1 RBI), senior Ryan Collins .263 (5-for-19, 5 RBI), senior Cody Freeman is at .250 (4-for-16, 2 RBI), senior Wes Thigpen is hitting .250 (3-for-12, 3 RBI), freshman C.T. Bradford is hitting at a .211 clip (4-for-19, 3 RBI), senior Jonathan Ogden is hitting .100 (1-for-10, 2 RBI) and in part-time duty senior Trey Johnson comes in at .286 (2-for-7, 3 RBI.

How Ole Miss and MSU Match Up
Ole Miss Category Mississippi State
27-21 Record 30-18
.281 Batting Average .290
267 (5.6 pg) Runs 309 (6.4 pg)
39 Home Runs 22
.358 OB % .393
42-56 Stolen Bases-Attempts 70-94
165 (3.4 pg) Walks 216 (4.5 pg)
333 (6.9 pg) Strikeouts 308 (6.4 pg)
362 (7.5 pg) LOB 429 (8.9 pg)
4.27 Team ERA 3.98
14 Saves 13
153 (3.2 pg) Walks 163 (3.4 pg)
346 (7.2 pg) Strikeouts 380 (7.9 pg)
.278 Batting Average Against .259
.970 Fielding % .972

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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