South Carolina-MSU Baseball Series Preview

No. 12 ranked South Carolina and No. 16th Mississippi State face off in a three-game Southeastern Conference series this weekend at MSU.

Weather - Thursday - The temperatures should be in the 70s throughout the game. There is a 10% chance for scattered showers. | Friday - The temperatures should be in the 70s. There is a 40% chance for scattered showers. | Saturday - The temperatures should be in the low 80s during the game. There is a 20% chance for scattered showers.

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

Coaches - This is Chad Holbrook's first year as the head coach at South Carolina. For the past four seasons he has served as the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator for the Gamecock baseball program.

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.

SEC Games Schedule Comparison - South Carolina, 16-10 in SEC play, has played Missouri (8-19), Arkansas (17-9), Texas A&M (11-15), Tennessee (7-18), Florida (13-14), Kentucky (10-17), LSU (21-6), Vanderbilt (24-2) and Georgia (5-19). Their combined SEC records are 116-119. Mississippi State, 14-13 in SEC play, has played LSU (21-6), Kentucky (10-17), Arkansas (17-9), Florida (13-14), Texas A&M (11-15), Auburn (11-16), Vanderbilt (24-2), Alabama (13-13) and Ole Miss (14-13). Their combined records are 134-105.

South Carolina Road/Mississippi State Home Records - South Carolina is 10-8 on the road while Mississippi State is 28-6 at home.

Expected Pitching Rotations - South Carolina is expected to start senior LHP Nolan Belcher (7-5, 2.23 ERA) Thursday night, sophomore LHP Jordan Montgomery (4-1, 1.86) Friday night and freshman LHP Jack Wynkoop (7-2, 2.75) Saturday.

Belcher has been very good in SEC play. In 65.1 innings, he has given up 24 runs (18 earned) for a 2.48 ERA. Unlike most pitchers he has pitched better on the road then he has at home. He has a 2.20 road ERA and a 2.70 home ERA. In his last three games he hasn't pitched as well as he did early on, allowing 9 runs (all earned) in 19 innings, which is a 4.26 ERA. He's normally going to throw between 6 and 8 innings.

Montgomery took over starting duties the 4th SEC weekend. The Gamecock coaching staff started him off slowly, allowing them to throw just 3 and 4 innings in his first two outings. Since then, he has thrown between 5+ and 7 innings in all but one of his four outings. He's pitched better on the road in the SEC than he has at home, with a 1.29 ERA on the road (14.0 IP, 2 ER) and a 3.52 home ERA (15.1 IP, 6 ER).

Wynkoop, who took over SEC starting duties in the 5th SEC series, has pitched really well in SEC play, allowing just 6 earned runs in 27.2 innings of work, which is a little less than 2 earned runs per game. He's only pitched in one away game in SEC action and allowed 0 runs in 7 innings. In his last three games he has been really good, allowing 3 runs (2 earned) in 20.0 innings, which is a 0.90 ERA.

Mississippi State will throw senior LHP Luis Pollorena (6-3, 3.86 ERA) Thursday night, senior RHP Kendall Graveman (5-5, 3.00) Friday and sophomore LHP Jacob Lindgren (4-2, 3.91) Saturday.

Pollorena has pitched ok in SEC action, allowing 21 runs (20 earned) in 40.1 innings, which is a 4.46 ERA. Something that is concerning is the fact that his home SEC ERA is 6.12 (14.2 IP, 10 ER). He has also struggled of late, allowing 10 earned runs in 17.1 innings in his last three outings (5.19 ERA).

Graveman pitched well during his first 6 SEC outings, allowing 11 runs (9 earned) in 45 innings, which is a 1.80 ERA. Since then, he has allowed 14 runs (12 earned) in 15.1 innings, which is a 7.05 ERA. A positive is the fact that he usually pitches well at home, allowing 8 runs (6 earned) in 28 innings, a 1.93 ERA.

Lindgren has had a couple of good games in SEC action but, for the most part, has struggled. He has pitched well at home, though, in SEC play, allowing 8 runs (7 earned) in 20.2 innings, a 3.04 ERA. A concern, though, is how he has pitched in his last three outings, allowing 12 runs (10 earned) in 4.2 innings of work, a 17.23 ERA.

Relief Pitching - South Carolina will primarily use three relievers - senior LHP Adam Westmoreland (6-1, 3 Saves, 1.57 ERA), senior LHP Tyler Webb (2-1, 15 S, 0.54), and senior RHP Colby Holmes (4-2, 0 S, 3.96). There are a couple of others who might pitch in blowout games, but those three are the main relievers in SEC games.

I'll key on the stats for the last 4 SEC series for the relievers.

Westmoreland, for the most part, has been the setup man for closer Tyler Webb. And he's been very good in that role. He's given up 4 runs (all earned) in 13.2 innings in the last 4 SEC series. And 3 of those runs were scored against him when he threw 5 innings. The rest of the games, he's only given up 1 runs in 8.2 innings in 6 outings. He's normally going to throw 1 to 2 innings.

Webb has been South Carolina's closer. And he's been outstanding in that role. In the last four series he has thrown 8.1 innings in 6 games and given up no runs on 6 hits and 0 walks while striking out 12. South Carolina is not afraid to use him in a couple of games during a series.

Holmes was one of South Carolina's SEC starters early on but wasn't effective in that role and has since been moved to the bullpen. He started out a little slow, giving up 1 run without getting an out in his first 2 appearances but he has pitched well since then, giving up 0 runs in 5 innings in his last two outings. It appears he's the closer in blow out games.

Mississippi State will likely use five pitchers in relief, sophomore RHP Jonathan Holder (2-0, 14 Saves, 1.15 ERA), sophomore LHP Ross Mitchell (9-0, 1 S, 1.28), junior RHP Ben Bracewell (1-1, 1 S, 1.46), sophomore RHP Trevor Fitts (0-0, 0, 1.65), and senior LHP Chad Girodo (5-1, 0 S, 1.29).

Like I did with the South Carolina relievers, I will key on the last four SEC series for the relievers.

Holder is MSU's closer. And he's been very, very good in that role in all but one SEC game. In the last four series, he has been outstanding, giving up no earned runs (3 unearned runs vs Ole Miss last Sunday) on 5 hits and 3 walks while striking out 24 in 13.1 innings. Although the MSU coaching staff only threw him one inning per game early on, now they are prone to throw him 2 to 3 innings and in 2 games in a series if necessary.

Ross Mitchell is MSU's middle reliever. He was very, very good in that role early on but hasn't been quite as effective in the last four series, giving up 3 earned runs (7 total runs) in 10.2 innings, which is a 2.52 ERA. He'll normally throw between 2 and 3 innings when called from the bullpen.

Bracewell has been very, very good in his last three outings, allowing 1 run on 4 hits and 0 walks while striking out 7 in 11 innings. He was at his best this past Sunday against Ole Miss when he threw 5 innings, allowing 0 runs on 1 hit and 0 walks while striking out 3. He's a guy who can throw between 2+ to 5 innings if needed.

Fitts has also pitched well in SEC action. In the last four series he has thrown in 3 games, allowing 1 run on 1 hit and 1 walk while striking out 5 in 4 innings. He's normally going to throw 1 to 2 innings.

Girodo started out as a left-on-left matchup reliever but is now throwing against both lefties and righties. And he's pitched well in that role the last 4 series, allowing 1 run in 6.1 innings. He'll normally throw between 1 and 3 innings when called from the bullpen.

Who's Hot at the Plate and Who's Not in the Last 5 Games - For South Carolina sophomore Grayson Greiner is hitting .471 (8-for-17, 4 RBI) as is sophomore Joey Pankake (8-for-17, 4 RBI). Freshman Max Schrock is hitting .353 (6-for-17, 3 RBI) and senior Chase Vergason (6-for-21, 5 RBI), junior Graham Saiko (4-for-14, 4 RBI) and sophomore Tanner English (4-for-14, 4 RBI) are all hitting .286. Sophomore Connor Bright is hitting .273 (3-for-11, 2 RBI) while sophomore Kyle Martin comes in hitting .214 (3-for-14, 1 RBI). In limited action junior Brison Celek is hitting .250 (2-for-8, 2 RBI), sophomore T.J. Costen is hitting .167 (1-for-6, 0 RBI), and senior L.B. Dantzler is batting .143 (1-for-7, 1 RBI).

Mississippi State is led at the plate by junior C.T. Bradford who is hitting .474 (9-for-19, 3 RB), junior Alex Detz who comes in hitting .429 (9-for-21, 2 RBI) and junior Adam Frazier who is batting .409 (9-for-22, 5 RBI). Sophomore Wes Rea is hitting .286 (6-for-21, 3 RBI), junior Hunter Renfroe is batting .250 (5-for-20, 2 RBI), junior Demarcus Henderson is hitting .182 (2-for-11, 2 RBI), and junior Brett Pirtle comes in batting .176 (3-for-17, 1 RBI). In limited duty senior Sam Frost is hitting .222 (2-for-9, 1 RBI), senior Nick Ammirati is batting .222 (2-for-9, 1 RBI), junior Derrick Armstrong is batting .200 (1-for-5, 0 RBI), freshman Jacob Robson is hitting .083 (1-for-12, 2 RBI) and senior Mitch Slauter is hitting .000 (0-for-8, 0 RBI).

How South Carolina and MSU Match Up
South Carolina Category Mississippi State
38-14 Record 38-15
.286 Batting Average .293
311 (6.0 pg) Runs 327 (6.2 pg)
43 Home Runs 27
.377 OB % .391
52-69 Stolen Bases-Attempts 51-76
231 (4.4 pg) Walks 238 (4.5 pg)
313 (6.0 pg) Strikeouts 344 (6.5 pg)
417 (8.0 pg) LOB 456 (8.6 pg)
2.95 Team ERA 2.68
20 Saves 16
118 (2.3 pg) Walks 178 (3.4 pg)
410 (7.9 pg) Strikeouts 438 (8.3 pg)
.249 Batting Average Against .221
.973 Fielding % .974

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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