Vanderbilt - MSU Baseball Series Preview

Mississippi State and Vanderbilt will tangle in a three-game Southeastern Conference series this weekend at MSU.

Weather - Friday should see temperatures in the mid to low-60s during the game with no chance for rain. Winds are expected to be from 6 to 7 mph from the north. | The temperatures Saturday should be in the mid-70s with winds from the southeast at 6 mph. There is only a 10% chance of rain. | Sunday should be very similar to the Saturday weather, temps in the mid-70s and a slight chance for rain.

Gametimes (CT) - Friday 6:30 p.m. | Saturday 2:00 p.m. | Sunday 1:30 p.m.

Coaches - Tim Corbin has been Vanderbilt's head coach since 2003. During that nine-season span, his teams have won 378 games and lost 189. In SEC regular season play, he has a 146-120 record. He has seen his teams win two SEC championships and appear in seven postseason NCAA Regionals with three advancing to Super Regional play and 1 team playing in the College World Series. His teams overall NCAA postseason record is 24-15.

John Cohen, who is entering his fourth season as the head coach at Mississippi State, has an overall record of 86-87, including a 38-25 record in 2011, and a 29-60 record in SEC play. His 2011 team appeared in NCAA post-season play, winning the Atlanta Regional 3-0 and going 1-2 in the Gainesville Super Regional against Florida, the 2011 College World Series national runner-up.

Vanderbilt Road Record/Mississippi State Home Record - Vanderbilt is 0-7 on the road while MSU is 16-5 at home.

Expected Pitching Rotations - Vanderbilt is expected to start sophomore LHP Kevin Ziomek (2-4, 4.70 ERA) Friday and freshman RHP Tyler Beede (1-3, 5.46 ERA) Saturday. A Sunday starter hasn't been named but he should either be redshirt junior RHP Will Clinard (2-1, 4.45 ERA) or junior RHP Drew VerHagen (3-2, 2.94 ERA).

Ziomek has been roughed up in SEC Friday night action. In his three SEC starts he has given up 12 runs (all earned) in 15 innings. His downfall has been the middle innings, the third through the fifth, where he has given up 11 of his 12 runs. The third and fifth has been his toughest, giving up 5 runs in each inning.

Beede, a 1st round draft pick in last year's Major League Baseball Draft who chose not to go pro, has begun to pitch like a first-rounder in his last two SEC starts after giving up 5 runs in 5 innings against Florida in his first SEC action. In his last two outings, he have only given up 2 runs on 13 hits in 11 innings while striking out 15 and only walking 2.

Clinard has been Vanderbilt's Sunday starter the last two weekends and has been up and down. After only giving up 1 run in 4 innings in his first SEC start, last weekend he gave up 4 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks in 4.2 innings.

Verhagen was Vanderbilt's Sunday starter the first SEC weekend but moved to the bullpen after that start. He allowed 3 runs (2 earned) in 4.1 innings in his only SEC start.

Mississippi State is expected to start junior RHP Chris Stratton (6-0, 2.27 ERA) Friday and junior RHP Kendall Graveman (2-1, 3.05) Saturday. Either redshirt sophomore RHP Ben Bracewell (0-0, 0.79) or senior RHP Caleb Reed (0-4, 2.79) will start Sunday.

Stratton has been that Friday night ace MSU hasn't had since Nick Routt was a true freshman in 2009. During his three outings, he has ranged from very good to outstanding. In his first SEC appearance he faced LSU and held them to 1 run in 8.2 innings while striking out 17. In his last two SEC outings he has given up 5 runs (4 earned) on 13 hits and 3 walks while striking out 17 in 14 innings for a 2.57 ERA. He's normally going to give MSU between 7 and 8 very solid innings in his starts.

Graveman was exceptional in his first SEC outing against LSU when he gave up just 1 run in 9 innings. Since then, he's pitched decent, giving up 8 runs (5 earned) on 18 hits and 6 walks in 10 innings.

Bracewell, who has been recovering from a strain, pitched for the first time in SEC action last weekend and gave up 1 run in 1 inning of work.

Reed has been used mainly as MSU's closer out of the bullpen. After struggling in his first two SEC appearances (5.1 IP, 5 ER), he has been very good in his last two, giving up no runs on 2 hits and 1 walk while striking out 1 in 4.1 innings.

Relief Pitching (SEC games only) - Look for Vanderbilt to use upwards of eight pitchers including sophomore LHP Steven Rice (0-0, 0 S, 4.70 ERA), freshman RHP Adam Ravenelle (0-0, 0 S, 1.80), freshman LHP Jared Miller (1-0, 0 S, 2.95), freshman RHP Brian Miller (0-2, 2 S, 4.62), redshirt sophomore Keenan Kolinsky (1-1, 0 S, 5.87), sophomore RHP P.J. Pecoraro (0-0, 0 S, 1.93) and freshman LHP Philip Pfeifer (0-1, 0 S, 3.48). Depending on who starts Sunday's game, Drew Verhagen or Will Clinard could also see duty out of the bullpen.

Rice has been used the most among the SEC relievers, appearing in 5 SEC games. Other than his first outing, when he gave up 4 runs in 2 innings, he has been very effective. In his other 4 appearances he has thrown 3 innings and allowed no runs on 2 hits. Control is an issue, with him having walked 5 hitters in 5 innings.He has been used as a closer and middle reliever.

Ravenelle has appeared in 4 SEC game, allowing 1 run (unearned) on 2 hits and 2 walks in 3 innings. Lately, he has been used more to close an inning, getting a couple of outs, in middle relief duty. He's a strikeout type pitcher, recording 5 Ks in his 3 innings of work.

Jared Miller has become more of a matchup guy, coming in to record an out in his last two outings. In those two appearances he has given up 1 (unearned) run on 1 walk and no hits while striking out none.

Brian Miller has been used mostly in middle relief although he did close out the last SEC game he appeared in. He's been hit pretty hard in his outings, giving up 5 runs (3 earned) in 3.2 innings.

Kolinsky has been used twice in SEC action with mixed results. After throwing 1 inning of perfect ball, in his last outing he gave up 2 runs on 2 hits in 1 inning.

Pecoraro has also pitched in 2 SEC game and has done well. In 3.2 innings he has given up no runs on 3 hits and 1 walk while striking out 4. He has been used in middle relief.

Pfeifer has pitched in two SEC games and has struggled, giving up 2 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 2 in 2.2 innings. He has thrown in middle relief and closed one game.

Verhagen, if he is in the bullpen this weekend, will be the guy who can throw 3 to 4 innings to close out a game. In his three SEC relief outings he was used to close out each game, throwing 3.2, 2.2 and 4.2 innings. He's pitched well in that role, giving up just 1 run on 7 hits and 6 walks while recording 4 Ks in 11 innings.

Clinard has thrown relief in 2 SEC games, giving up 4 runs in 2 innings. He was used in middle relief in one and closed the other one.

Mississippi State could also use upwards of 8 out of the pen - Caleb Reed (see above for his info), sophomore RHP Evan Mitchell (1-0, 3.98 ERA), redshirt junior Nick Routt (1-4, 4.72), junior LHP Luis Pollorena (0-0, 2.89), freshmen RHPs Tanner Gaines (1-0, 0 S, 1.08), Jonathan Holder (1-0, 1 S, 0.00), Brandon Woodruff (0-0, 0 S, 4.91) and Trevor Fitts (2-0, 0 S, 3.65).

Mitchell has been used in long relief during Saturday SEC games and has, for the most part, performed well. In two of his 3 SEC outings he only gave up 2 runs (1 earned) in 8 innings. In his other appearance he gave up 4 runs in 0.1 innings. You'll know during his first inning if he is on.

Routt has been the Saturday starter for MSU during the first three SEC weekends but has struggled, giving up 10 runs (8 earned) in 10.1 innings. He's got all the stuff an SEC starter needs but his control has been off, not so much walking batters but putting pitches exactly where he wants them. I expect him to be used in long relief this weekend.

Pollorena has only appeared in 1 SEC game so far but he was effective, allowing no runs in 1 inning.

Gaines and Holder have both appeared in 1 SEC game so far and been very effective, giving up no runs in their outings. If Reed is not needed to close out a game, Holder could be the guy who finishes either the Friday or Saturday game if needed in that role.

Fitts and Woodruff, both of whom have exceptional stuff, have struggled somewhat in SEC action, giving up 5 runs in 2.1 innings of work while appearing in 2 games each.

Who's Hot at the Plate and Who's Not in the Last 5 Games - In the last five games, Vanderbilt has been led at the plate by sophomore Spencer Navin who has hit .462 (6-of-13, 2 RBI). Sophomore Tony Kemp is also hitting above .300, coming in at a .316 clip (6-of-19, 7 RBI). Hitting at exactly .300 is junior Anthony Gomez (6-of-20, 2 RBI).

Others include freshman Vince Conde at .294 (5-of-17, 3 RBI), sophomore Conrad Gregor at .273 (6-of-22, 5 RBI), junior Mike Yastrzemski at .238 (5-of-21, 3 RBI), and junior Connor Harrell at .133 (2-of-15, 0 RBI).

Players who have played part-time include redshirt junior Jack Lupo who is hitting at a .580 clip (5-of-8, 5 RBI), sophomore Joel McKeithan who is at .556 (5-of-9, 2 RBI), senior Riley Reynolds at .286 (2-of-7, 3 RBI), freshman Connor Castellano at .250 (2-of-8, 1 RBI), freshman Chris Harvey at .200 (1-of-5, 2 RBI) and redshirt senior Drew Fann who comes in at .000 (0-of-7, 0 RBI).

For Mississippi State sophomore Adam Frazier leads the way with a .429 batting average (6-of-14, 1 RBI), followed by junior Sam Frost who comes in at .421 (8-of-19, 2 RBI). Hitting .300 are freshman Tyler Fullerton (3-of-10, 2 RBI) and sophomore C.T. Bradford (3-of-10, 1 RBI).

Others include junior Mitch Slauter who is hitting .278 (5-of-18, 0 RBI), sophomore Hunter Renfroe at .238 (5-of-21, 1 RBI), redshirt freshman Wes Rea at .235 (4-of-17, 2 RBI, junior Trey Porter at .158 (3-of-19, 4 RBI), freshman Matthew Britton at .100 (1-of-10, 1 RBI), and redshirt freshman Demarcus Henderson at .000 (0-of-11, 0 RBI).

In part-time duty, redshirt freshman Brayden Jones is hitting .167 (1-of-6, 1 RBI) and senior Brent Brownlee comes in at .000 (0-of-5, 0 RBI).

How Vanderbilt and MSU Match Up
Vanderbilt Category Mississippi State
12-17 Record 18-11
.270 Batting Average .281
168 (5.8 pg) Runs 151 (5.2 pg)
12 Home Runs 11
.368 OB % .375
25-36 Stolen Bases-Attempts 33-51
111 (3.8 pg) Walks 111 (3.8 pg)
206(7.1 pg) Strikeouts 199 (6.9 pg)
229 (7.9 pg) LOB 248 (8.6 pg)
4.55 Team ERA 3.05
2 Saves 8
113 (3.9 pg) Walks 89 (3.1 pg)
224 (7.7 pg) Strikeouts 260 (9.0 pg)
.254 Batting Average Against .248
.954 Fielding % .967

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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