Arkansas at MSU Baseball Series Preview

Arkansas and Mississippi State face off in a three-game Southeastern Conference series this weekend at Starkville.

Weather - Friday, during the game, the highs should be in the high to mid 60s. There is a 40% chance of rain. | Saturday should see temperatures in the mid 60s with wind from north to northwest of 16 miles per hour. There is a 10% chance of rain, | Sunday should be sunny with temperatures in the high 60s. There is a 0% chance of rain. The wind should be from the northeast at 4 miles per hour.

Gametimes (Central Time) - Friday 6:30 pm | Saturday 2:00 pm | Sunday 1:30 pm.

Coaches - Dave Van Horn is coaching his 12th season at Arkansas, In his first eleven seasons he has won one SEC championship. His teams have an overall record of 444-245 and are 177-150 in SEC regular season action. All eleven of his teams have advanced to NCAA post-season action with five advancing to Super Regional play. Three of those five teams won the Super Regionals and appeared in the College World Series. His teams are 33-25 in NCAA post-season play..

John Cohen, who is entering his sixth season as the head coach at Mississippi State, has an overall record of 177-131 and a 61-88 record in SEC play. His 2011, 2012 and 2013 teams appeared in regionals with his 2011 team advancing to a Super Regional and his 2013 team advancing to the College World Series where they were national runner-up. His teams overall NCAA postseason record is 13-7.

Arkansas Road/Mississippi State Home Records - Arkansas is 2-5 on the road while MSU is 15-5 at home.

Expected Pitching Rotations - Arkansas is expected to start junior LHP Jalen Beeks (3-2, 1.56 ERA) Friday, sophomore RHP Trey Killian (1-3, 2.36) Saturday and junior RHP Chris Oliver (2-2, 1.74) Sunday.

Prior to SEC play, Beeks pitched extremely well, allowing just 3 runs (2 earned) in 26.2 innings for an ERA of 0.67. In his two starts in SEC action he has given up 5 runs (4 earned) in 8 innings, which is an ERA of 4.50.

Killian performed exactly opposite of Beeks, pitching well in SEC play while not pitching as well in non-conference action. In his two starts prior to SEC play, he threw 9.2 innings, allowing 6 runs (5 earned) for an ERA of 4.64. In his two SEC starts he has an ERA of 1.12 (17 innings pitched, 2 earned runs, 11 hits, 3 walks, 13 Ks). He threw complete games in both of the SEC starts.

Oliver has also pitched well in SEC action, giving up 1 unearned run on 7 hits and 1 walk while striking out 6 in 9 innings. In non-SEC games he has given up 7 runs (6 earned) in 22 innings for an ERA of 2.45. His home/away ERA indicates that he pitches much better at home than on the road (home ERA 0.78, away ERA 4.50).

Mississippi State is expected to start redshirt sophomore RHP Preston Brown (3-0, 1.12) Friday, redshirt junior LHP Ross Mitchell (4-1, 1.66) Saturday and junior RHP Trevor Fitts (2-1, 3.13) Sunday.

Brown became MSU'S Friday night starter last weekend after being MSU's mid-week starter. In his four starts he has given up 3 runs (2 earned) on 18 hits and 10 walks while striking out 21 in 26 innings of work (0.69 ERA). He is a groundball out machine, giving up just 7 fly ball outs in his four starts. While not a hard thrower, Brown usually throws his fastball in the mid to upper 80s with excellent movement and excellent change of speed.

After being a middle reliever in all of his outings this season, Mitchell was moved to the Saturday starting spot two weekends ago against Georgia and has had two outstanding performance, allowing 3 runs on 10 hits and 6 walks while striking out 8 in in 16.1 innings. His SEC ERA is 1.65.

Fitts has been very good this season as a weekend starter. Of his six starts, he's been very effective in five. His lone poor outing was on the road against UC-Santa Barbara when he gave up 5 runs (all earned) on 5 hits in 2.1 innings of work. In his other five starts he only gave up 7 runs (6 earned) in 29.1 innings for a 1.84 ERA. In his two SEC starts he has given up 2 runs in 11 innings for an ERA of 1.64. He'll normally give MSU a solid 4+ to 6+ innings in his starts.

Relief Pitching - Arkansas has primarily used six relievers in SEC play so far this season, including junior RHP Michael Gunn (1-0, 3 S, 0.00 ERA), junior RHP Jacob Stone (3-0, 1, 0.00), freshman RHP Zach Jackson (1-1, 1, 2.08), redshirt sophomore RHP Landon Simpson (0-0, 0, 4.91), redshirt junior RHP Jackson Lowery (0-0, 0, 3.38) and freshman RHP Dominic Taccolini (0-0, 0, 9.82).

Gunn is Arkansas' closer and a great one for them. In three SEC outings he has thrown 6 innings while giving up no runs on 1 hit and 0 walks while striking out 6.

Stone is a middle reliever in SEC action. He's thrown in 1 SEC game, allowing 0 runs on 1 hit and 0 walks while striking out 3.

Jackson is another middle reliever for Arkansas. He's thrown in 2 SEC games this season, allowing 5 runs (4 earned) on 6 hits and 2 walks while striking out 5 in 3.1 innings.

Simpson, also a middle reliever, has thrown in 1 SEC game this season, allowing 2 runs in 2.2 innings of work.

Lowery has appeared in 1 SEC game, allowing 3 runs in 1 inning of work.

Taccolini, a player that MSU heavily recruited, has appeared in 2 SEC games, allowing 6 runs in 1.1 innings of work.

Mississippi State's primary relievers for weekend games are sophomore RHP Myles Gentry (0-0, 2, 3.29), junior LHP Jacob Lindgren (2-0, 2, 1.17) and junior RHP Jonathan Holder (2-1, 3, 2.87). I also expect junior RHP Brandon Woodruff (1-2, 0, 6.06) and senior RHP Ben Bracewell (2-2, 0, 2.35) to be available to pitch in relief this weekend.

Gentry is a middle reliever who has been up and down this season. After allowing 3 earned runs in 5 innings to start off the season, he then appeared in 4 games where he allowed 0 runs in 7 innings. In his next two outings, he allowed 3 runs (2 earned) in 1.2 innings.

After being a starter most of last season, Lindgren has been moved to the bullpen this season and he's really thrived in his role as a combo late inning reliever/closer. In 9 games this season, he's allowed just 2 earned runs in 15.1 innings. He can give MSU 2 to 3 very effective innings if necessary. He's a hard thrower who throws his fastball in the low 90s and his slider in the mid 80s. In his 15.1 innings of work he has 29 strikeouts.

Holder is MSU's primary closer, a role that he has held his entire time at MSU. After suffering a blister on his finger during the early part of the season, he's healthy now and has pitched really well of late. In his last four outings, he threw 10.2 innings, allowing 3 runs for an ERA of 2.52.

Woodruff started the season as MSU's Friday starter but wasn't effective in that role, giving up 12 runs (11 earned) in 13.1 innings for an ERA of 7.43. Walks really hurt him with him giving up 14 in the 13.1 innings. He is now pitching out of the bullpen and has performed extremely well in that role, throwing 3 innings in 2 games while giving up no runs on 1 hit.

Bracewell has been a combination starter and reliever this season. He's performed well in both (2.66 ERA as a starter and 0.00 as a reliever) but hasn't done as well of late as a starter, giving up 6 runs in 7.1 innings in his last two starts after giving up just 2 runs in 13 innings his first two starts. It's likely he'll be used as a middle reliever who can eat up 3 or 4 innings in a game if one of the starters aren't effective early on.

Who's Hot at the Plate and Who's Not in the Last 5 Games - Arkansas is led at the plate by sophomore Bobby Wernes who is hitting .400 (6-of-15, 3 RBI). Also hitting .400 is freshman Clark Eagan (4-of-10, 1 RBI). Coming in third for Arkansas is junior Brian Anderson at .375 (6-of-16, 4 RBI), Next is junior Krisjon Wilkerson at .364 (4-of-11, 1 RBI). Hitting .353 is freshman Andrew Benintendi (6-of-17, 5 RBI). Coming in at .333 is sophomore Tyler Spoon (6-of-18, 6 RBI). Next is junior Joe Serrano at .294 (5-of-17, 2 RBI). Junior Eric Fisher is hitting .286 (4-of-14, 5 RBI). Sophomore Michael Bernal comes in at .167 (2-of-12, 1 RBI) and senior Jake Wise is hitting .000 (0-of-12, 1 RBI).

Mississippi State is led at the plate by junior Zack Randolph who comes in hitting .364 (4-of-11, 3 RBI) in the last five games. He's followed by senior Brett Pirtle who is hitting .353 (6-of-17, 1 RBI), Also hitting above the .300 mark is junior Seth Heck who comes in at .308 (4-of-13, 6 RBI). Senior Alex Detz is hitting .263 (5-of-19, 1 RBI), while junior Wes Rea is hitting .211 (4-of-19, 3 RBI) and senior Derrick Armstrong is hitting .188 (3-of-16, 5 RBI). Junior Jake Vickerson is hitting at a .100 clip (2-of-20, 2 RBI).

In part-time action freshman Gavin Collins is hitting .667 (4-of-6, 0 RBI), senior Demarcus Henderson is hitting .250 (2-of-8, 1 RBI), junior Matthew Britton comes in at .000 (0-of-8, 1 RBI), as does freshman Cody Brown (0-of-6, 1 RBI).

How Arkansas and MSU Match Up
Arkansas Category Mississippi State
15-8 Record 18-9
.268 Batting Average .268
126 (5.5 pg) Runs 149 (5.5 pg)
9 Home Runs 5
.378 OB % .382
14-18 Stolen Bases-Attempts 42-55
88 (3.8 pg) Walks 138 (5.1 pg)
120 (5.2 pg) Strikeouts 157 (5.8 pg)
190 (8.3 pg) LOB 226 (8.4 pg)
2.19 Team ERA 2.85
5 Saves 9
64 (2.8 pg) Walks 97 (3.6 pg)
160 (7.0 pg) Strikeouts 230 (8.5 pg)
.201 Batting Average Against .246
.969 Fielding % .984

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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