MSU - South Carolina Baseball Series Preview

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

Weather - Friday should see temperatures in the low 70s to high 60s during the game. There is no chance of rain. | The temperature should be in the high 70s Saturday with no chance of rain. The winds should be from the south at 10 mph. | Sunday should see temperatures in the mid 80s with a 10% chance of rain. Winds should be from the south at 6 mph.

Gametimes (All times are CT) - Friday 6:00 p.m. | Saturday 3:00 p.m. | Sunday 12:30 p.m.

Coaches - Ray Tanner is going into his 16th season at South Carolina and has a record of 689-296, including a SEC regular season record of 269-179. Three of his teams have won the SEC overall championship. Thirteen of his fifteen teams have appeared in NCAA Regionals with nine advancing to Super Regionals and five of those nine advancing to the College World Series. His 2010 and 2011 teams won the National Championship while his 2002 team was national runner-up. His teams have an NCAA post-season record of 70-27.

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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.

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South Carolina Home Record/Mississippi State Road Record - South Carolina is 18-4 at home while MSU is 2-6 on the road.

Expected Pitching Rotations - South Carolina is expected to start senior RHP Michael Roth (3-0, 1.98 ERA) Friday, freshman LHP Jordan Montgomery (2-0, 2.70) Saturday and junior RHP Colby Holmes (4-0, 2.56) Sunday.

Roth has pitched in four SEC games and has gone into the 6th or 7th inning in each outing. His longest stint has been 6.2 innings, which he has done twice. He's given up 10 runs (9 earned) in 25.2 innings in SEC action.

Montgomery got his first SEC start last weekend and performed extremely well, giving up just 1 run on 3 hits and 0 walks while striking out 7 in 8 innings.

Holmes has been the most inconsistent of the three. In his first three SEC outings, he gave up 9 runs (8 earned) on 12 hits in 12.1 innings. In his last outing, he threw 7 innings, giving up 1 run on 4 hits.

Mississippi State is expected to start junior RHP Chris Stratton (7-0, 2.54 ERA) Friday and junior RHP Kendall Graveman (2-1, 2.68) Saturday. No starter has been announced for Sunday but my best guess is it will be sophomore RHP Evan Mitchell (1-0, 4.12).

Stratton has pitched in four SEC games, giving up 10 runs (8 earned) in 28.2 innings. He's given MSU a solid 6 to 8+ innings in each. After having an outstanding performance against LSU in the first SEC series of the season, he has been solid in his last three, giving up 10 runs (7 earned) in 20 innings.

Graveman has been good to very good in three of his four SEC outings, giving up just 6 runs (3 earned) in 20 innings in three appearances and 7 runs (4 earned) in the other one. Although he has thrown one complete game in SEC action, he's more likely to give MSU 5+ innings.

Mitchell hasn't started an SEC game this season but has appeared in 4 SEC games. He's thrown 12 innings, giving up 8 runs (7 earned) on 8 hits and 12 walks while striking out 14. He looked his best in his last outing when his fastball velo was 93-94 mph hour.

Relief Pitching (SEC games only) - Although South Carolina has used a lot of pitchers in relief in SEC action, they really count on two in games that are close, junior LHP Tyler Webb (3-0, 1 S, 0.71 ERA) and junior RHP Matt Price (3-3, 1 S, 3.14).

Webb has mainly been used in middle relief. Although he has thrown up to 3.2 innings in an outing, he's more prone to come in and get one out or one inning. He's been very effective in his role, giving up no runs in 5.2 innings in the five SEC games that he has appeared in.

Price has been used exclusively as a closer in SEC games, throwing in 5 games. He's thrown no less than 2.1 innings and has thrown as high as 6 innings in a game. He's given up 6 runs (4 earned) on 6 hits and 11 walks in 16.1 SEC innings.

Mississippi State, like South Carolina, has used a large number of pitchers in SEC action but the key guys this weekend will probably be senior RHP Caleb Reed (0-4, 7 S, 2.87), redshirt junior LHP Nick Routt (1-4, 4.76), sophomore RHP Taylor Stark (1-0, 1 S, 0.00) and freshman RHP Brandon Woodruff (0-0, 0 S, 2.70).

Reed was used as a starter last weekend but I expect him to move back into the bullpen and be the closer this weekend. He started a little slow in SEC action, giving up 5 runs in 5.1 innings in his first two outings. In his next three he gave up 0 runs in 7.1 innings.

Routt was MSU's Saturday starter the first three weekends but was moved to the bullpen last weekend. He's struggled in SEC action (0-3, 6.75 ERA) but has shown a 90-92 mph fastball and exceptional changeup the last couple of appearances.

Stark, after being out the first three SEC series, pitched in his first SEC game last weekend, giving up no runs in 1.2 innings.

Woodruff could be used Sunday after throwing 6 hitless innings this past Tuesday. He had his best outing of the season, consistently throwing a 90-94 mph fastball down in the zone and having complete control of all his pitches for the entire 6 innings. He's appeared in two SEC games, giving up 2 runs in 2/3rds of an inning.

Who's Hot at the Plate and Who's Not in the Last 5 Games - In the last five games, South Carolina is led at the plate by junior Christian Walker who is hitting .389 (7-of-18, 5 RBI). Freshman Tanner English is hitting .300 (3-of-10, 1 RBI) as is junior Chase Vergason (3-of-10, 1 RBI).

Freshman Joey Pankake is hitting .278 (5-of-18, 3 RBI) as is senior Adam Matthews (5-of-18, 3 RBI). Freshman Grayson Greiner is hitting .267 (4-of-15, 4 RBI), while junior LB Dantzler is hitting .222 (4-of-18, 4 RBI). Junior Evan Marzilli comes in at .190 (4-of-21, 3 RBI), while sophomore Brison Celek is hitting .167 (2-of-12, 0 RBI). In part-time action freshman T.J. Costen is hitting .400 (2-of-5, 0 RBI).

For Mississippi State is led at the plate by sophomore Daryl Norris who is hitting .429 (6-of-14, 4 RBI) in the last five games. Sophomore Adam Frazier is hitting .286 (6-of-21, 2 RBI) while redshirt freshman Wes Rea comes in at .278 (5-of-18, 8 RBI) and junior Sam Frost is hitting .250 (4-of-16, 2 RBI). Sophomore C.T. Bradford is hitting .222 (4-of-18, 0 RBI).

Others include junior Mitch Slauter at .188 (3-of-16, 0 RBI), freshman Tyler Fullerton at .182 (2-of-11, 0 RBI), sophomore Hunter Renfroe at .176 (3-of-17, 4 RBI), junior Trey Porter at .125 (2-of-16, 0 RBI), and freshman Matthew Britton at .000 (0-of-10, 0 RBI). In part-time duty, senior Brent Brownlee, who is returning from an injury, is hitting .250 (2-of-8, 2 RBI).

How South Carolina and MSU Match-Up
South Carolina Category Mississippi State
24-10 Record 21-12
.274 Batting Average .273
176 (5.2 pg) Runs 171 (5.2 pg)
24 Home Runs 12
.363 OB % .377
14-29 Stolen Bases-Attempts 34-55
146 (4.3 pg) Walks 139 (4.2 pg)
235 (6.9 pg) Strikeouts 228 (6.9 pg)
293 (8.6 pg) LOB 292 (8.8 pg)
2.86 Team ERA 2.96
13 Saves 9
101 (3.0 pg) Walks 103 (3.1 pg)
311 (9.1 pg) Strikeouts 304 (9.2 pg)
.196 Batting Average Against .247
.977 Fielding % .966

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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