Florida - MSU Baseball Series Preview

Florida and No. 17th ranked Mississippi State tangle in a three-game Southeastern Conference series this weekend at MSU.

Weather - Friday - Temperatures should be in the low 60s to mid 50s during the game with the winds from the north at about 5 mph. No rain is expected. | Saturday - Temperatures should be in the low 70s during the game with winds from the south/southeast at 10 mph. There is about a 10% chance of rain. | Sunday - Temperatures should be in the low 70s with winds from the south at 11 mph. There is a 10% chance of rain.

Gametimes (CDT) - Friday 6:30 p.m. | Saturday 3:00 p.m. | Sunday 1:30 p.m.

Coaches - In his five years as the head coach at Florida, Kevin O'Sullivan has a 223-102 overall record and a 98-52 SEC record. His teams won the SEC Eastern Division three times while winning the overall SEC Championship twice. He has led Florida to five NCAA appearances, advancing to four Super Regionals. His 2010, 2011 and 2012 teams advanced to the College World Series. The 2011 team was the CWS runner-up. In NCAA post-season play his teams have a 23-11 record.

John Cohen, who is entering his fifth season as the head coach at Mississippi State, has an overall record of 126-111 - including a combined 78-49 in 2011 and 2012 - and a 45-74 record in SEC play (30-30 SEC W-L record in 2011-2012). His 2011 and 2012 teams appeared in regionals, with his 2011 team advancing to a Super Regional. His teams overall NCAA postseason record is 5-4.

Florida Road Record/Mississippi State Home Record - Florida is 3-3 on the road while Mississippi State is 20-4 at home.

Expected Pitching Rotations - Florida will start junior RHP Jonathon Crawford (1-4, 4.46) Friday night, freshman LHP Danny Young (1-2, 3.12) Saturday afternoon. Florida doesn't list a Sunday starter.

Crawford was ineffective his first two SEC outings of the season, giving up 11 runs (all earned) in 12+ innings. But against Ole Miss last weekend he was phenomenal, allowing no runs on 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 8 in 9 innings. He's normally going to throw 6 innings but as he proved against Ole Miss, when he's pitching well, he can throw a complete game. A key stat with him is he's a much better pitcher at home than on the road. His home ERA is 3.00 while his road ERA is 9.00 in SEC games. Crawford has faced MSU once during his career, during the 2012 season when he threw 4 innings, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks. The game was played at Dudy Noble Field.

Young, who took over the Sunday starting spot from Eric Hanhold last weekend after Hanhold had allowed 7 runs in 4.1 innings as the Sunday starter the first two weekends of SEC action, was exceptional against Ole Miss last weekend at home, allowing 0 runs on 1 hit and 2 walks while striking out 1 in 5.1 innings. Young was also very good in another outing last week when he pitched in relief against Florida State on the road, allowing 1 run on 2 hits and 2 walks in 4 innings. In addition to pitching against Ole Miss, Young has thrown in two other SEC games and did well in those also. How well you ask? SEC teams are hitting .048 against him in his three SEC appearances.

During the past three SEC weekends, freshman RHP Jay Carmichael (3-1, 2.45 ERA) has been a starter. If he winds up being the starter Sunday, this is what I know about him. Carmichael has been a very solid starter for Florida. He's given up 5 runs in 15 innings, allowing 10 hits and 9 walks while striking out 8 in SEC action. He's only given up 1 run in the first three innings in his three SEC starts. His last outing, which was against Ole Miss, was his least effective one, giving up 3 runs on 4 hits and 4 walks in 4.1 innings. He's normally going to give Florida 4+ to 5+ innings.

Mississippi State will start senior LHP Luis Pollorena (4-1, 3.34 ERA) Friday night, senior RHP Kendall Graveman (3-2, 2.43) Saturday afternoon and, my guess, either Jacob Lindgren (2-0, 2.83) or Ross Mitchell (5-0, 1 Save, 0.96) Sunday.

Pollorena took over for Evan Mitchell in the SEC starting rotation last weekend. And he did decently, allowing 4 runs in 6.1 innings of work. What hurt him in the game were the 8 walks, which was something of a surprise since he had only walked 9 prior to that outing. In his other SEC outing, a relief appearance, he allowed no runs on 1 hit and 1 walk to go along with his 3 Ks in 4.1 innings of work against Kentucky. Pollorena hasn't had much success against Florida in the past, allowing 9 runs (7 earned) on 9 hits in 5.1 innings of work over a span of 3 games during the 2011 season. He didn't face Florida last season.

Graveman has been very effective in his three SEC starts this season. In the three games he has allowed 5 runs in 20 innings. His last outing, last weekend against Arkansas, he was dominating, allowing 1 run on 5 hits and 0 walks while striking out 5. A ground ball out type pitcher, he had 18 ground ball outs to go along with 4 fly outs and his 5 Ks against Arkansas. In his three SEC starts he has recorded 34 ground ball outs to 8 fly ball outs. Another thing in MSU's favor is Graveman has had success against Florida in the past, throwing 7.2 innings against them last season, allowing 0 runs on 3 hits and 1 walk.

Lindgren, who throws in the low 90s with an excellent slider, missed last week's SEC series due to soreness in his elbow. While Lindgren was exceptional in non-conference games starting the season, he hasn't been quite as effective in SEC play. During the first two SEC weekends, he allowed 7 runs (all earned) on 11 hits and 4 walks while striking out 13 in 10 innings. Jacob has never pitched against Florida.

Ross Mitchell, if he starts, will be new to the starting rotation. Although he hasn't started an SEC game this season, he has performed extremely well in his four SEC relief appearances, allowing 1 run on 13 hits and 3 walks while striking out 6 in 14.0 innings. Normally a middle reliever, he has thrown between 3 and 6+ innings in three of his four SEC outings. His last appearance was his best, when he threw 6.1 innings against Arkansas, allowing no runs on 4 hits and 2 walks to go along with his 2 Ks in 6.1 innings. Ross did have success against Florida last season in a 3.1 inning relief appearance, giving up no runs on 0 hits and 1 walk to go along with his 1 strikeout.

As you may have noticed, MSU will start two lefthanded pitchers against Florida this weekend. That could be an advantage for MSU since Florida has a 5-9 record in games started by lefthanded pitchers this season.

Relief Pitching - Florida will primarily use three pitchers in relief. They include sophomore RHP Johnny Magliozzi (2-1, 6 Saves, 1.78 ERA), junior LHP Daniel Gibson (0-0, 0 S, 2.53) and sophomore RHP Ryan Harris (4-2, 0 S, 3.68). If there is a blow out in any of the games there are a couple of other pitchers they might use but those three are their primary SEC relief pitchers.

Magliozzi is the closer for Florida. And he's done well in that role in the SEC, throwing in 4 games while allowing 2 runs (both unearned) in 11 innings. He has 6 Ks in those 11 innings. Unlike most closers, Florida is not afraid to throw him anywhere from 2+ innings to 3+ innings. In fact, he has thrown more than 3 innings in two of his four SEC appearances. SEC teams are only hitting .154 against him.

Gibson is a middle reliever for Florida. He has been exceptional in that role in the SEC. In his 3 SEC outings he has allowed 1 run on 3 hits and 2 walks in 7.2 innings of work. He's normally going to throw two to four innings an outing. Teams are only hitting .125 against him in SEC action.

Harris is another middle reliever for Florida. While he hasn't been quite as effective as the other two relievers, he has been solid, allowing 2 runs in 6.1 innings of work. Although SEC teams are only hitting .095 against him, his real nemesis has been his control. In his 6.1 innings he has walked 3, hit 1 batter, had 1 balk and 1 wild pitch.

Look for Mississippi State to primarily used five pitchers in relief - sophomore RHP Jonathan Holder (1-0, 8 S, 3.00 ERA), senior LHP Chad Girodo (4-1, 0 S, 1.00), redshirt junior RHP Ben Bracewell (0-1, 1 S, 2.25), sophomore RHP Trevor Fitts (0-0, 0 S, 1.17) and freshman RHP Myles Gentry (2-0, 0 S, 2.66).

Holder is MSU's closer. He has been ok in that role, although he hasn't been as dominating this season as he was last season. In his three SEC appearances he has given up 1 run on 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 2 in 3.2 innings. He had a little bit of a rough spell in his first 2 SEC outings but looked like the Holder of old in his last one, against Arkansas last weekend when he gave up no runs, hits or walks in 1.1 innings.

Girodo has been a left-on-left matchup pitcher. He has appeared in 7 of MSU's 9 SEC games this season, allowing 1 run on 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 3 in 5.1 innings of work. While he's normally going to come in and face one or two batters, he has thrown 3 innings in 1 SEC outing this season. But his primary job has been to come in and face a lefty or two then leave.

Bracewell, up until last weekend when he started against Arkansas Sunday afternoon, has been more of a late inning type reliever in SEC action. Although he had a very rocky outing against Arkansas, giving up 3 runs on 2 hits and 2 walks while not recording an out, he has been very effective as a reliever, allowing no runs in 6.1 innings of work. When he comes in, he's normally going to throw anywhere from 1 to 2+ innings.

Fitts wasn't used in MSU's first two SEC series but did pitch in 1 game last weekend against Arkansas, giving up no runs, hits or walks in two-thirds of an inning.

Gentry has been used in middle relief in SEC action. While he has been very, very effective in that role in non-SEC games, he has struggled in his SEC outings, giving up 4 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 1 in his 2 innings of work.

Who's Hot at the Plate and Who's Not in the Last 5 Games (minimum of 5 or more at bats during those games) - For Florida sophomore Taylor Gushue leads the way with a .333 batting average (6-for-18, 2 RBI), followed by senior Vickash Ramjit at .316 (6-for-19, 4 RBI), sophomore Justin Shafer at .300 (6-for-20, 0 RBI), and senior Cody Dent also at .300 (3-for-10, 1 RBI). Hitting at a .250 clip is sophomore Connor Mitchell (3-for-12, 3 RBI). Next is redshirt sophomore Zack Powers who comes in hitting .200 (3-for-15, 2 RBI), freshman Harrison Bader at .190 (4-for-21, 2 RBI), and sophomore Casey Turgeon at .105 (2-for-19, 0 RBI).

In part-time duty, sophomore Mike Fahrman is hitting .333 (3-for-9, 2 RBI) and sophomore Josh Tobias at .000 (0-for-6, 0 RBI).

Mississippi State is led at the plate by junior Hunter Renfroe who comes in hitting .444 (8-for-18, 1 RBI). Renfroe's on-base percentage is .565. Redshirt sophomore Wes Rea is hitting .316 (6-for-19, 7 RBI). Others include junior Brett Pirtle who is hitting at a .235 clip (5-for-17, 2 RBI). Pirtle's on-base percentage is .429. Junior C.T. Bradford is hitting .227 (5-for-22, 0 RBI), while junior Alex Detz comes in hitting .222 (4-for-18, 2 RBI). He has a very good on-base percentage of .391. Junior Nick Ammirati comes in hitting at a .167 clip (3-for-18, 4 RBI), while junior Adam Frazier is hitting .136 (3-for-22, 1 RBI).

In part-time duty, senior Sam Frost is hitting .400 (2-for-5, 0 RBI), senior Trey Porter is hitting .222 (2-for-9, 3 RBI), junior Demarcus Henderson is hitting .200 (1-for-5, 0 RBI), and freshman Jacob Robson comes in at .000 (0-for-9, 1 RBI).

How Florida and MSU Match Up
Florida Category Mississippi State
14-16 Record 24-8
.261 Batting Average .298
143 (4.8 pg) Runs 212 (6.6 pg)
18 Home Runs 16
.346 OB % .398
26-40 Stolen Bases-Attempts 43-54
104 (3.5 pg) Walks 144 (4.5 pg)
131 (4.4 pg) Strikeouts 208 (6.5 pg)
227 (7.6 pg) LOB 269 (8.4 pg)
4.11 Team ERA 2.55
6 Saves 10
97 (3.2 pg) Walks 119 (3.7 pg)
208 (6.9 pg) Strikeouts 277 (7.1 pg)
.253 Batting Average Against .204
.974 Fielding % .974

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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