Ole Miss-MSU Baseball Series Preview

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


Weather - Friday - There is a very slight chance of rain with temperatures in the 60s during the game. | Saturday - Temperatures should be in the high 70s and once again there is a very slight chance of rain. | Sunday - The temperatures should be in the high 70s during the game.

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

Coaches - Mike Bianco's Ole Miss teams have an overall record of 509-302 during his thirteen-year career. His teams have a 208-179 SEC record and have won one SEC overall championship and two Western Division conference championships. Eleven of his thirteen teams have advanced to NCAA Regional play with four moving on to Super Regional play. None have played in the College World Series. His teams have a 24-23 NCAA postseason record.

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 two of his teams (2011, 2013) advancing to a Super Regional and his 2013 team advanced to the College World Series where they were national runner-up. His teams overall NCAA postseason record is 13-7.

Ole Miss Road/Mississippi State Home Records - Ole Miss is 6-6 on the road while MSU is 17-6 at home.

Expected Pitching Rotations - Ole Miss is expected to start junior RHP Chris Ellis (4-0, 1.88) Friday, sophomore LHP Christian Trent (4-0, 2.41) Saturday and junior RHP Sam Smith (4-2, 2.22) Sunday.

Prior to the season, Ellis was projected to be a possible first-round draft pick in the upcoming MLB Draft. And he pitched that well prior to the SEC. Then, when he got into SEC play, his numbers started to fall. He continued to pitch well at home in the SEC with a 0.69 ERA, allowing just 1 earned run on 11 hits and 3 walks while striking out 9 in 13.0 innings. However, he has been really bad in road SEC games, allowing 9 earned runs on 17 hits and 1 walk while striking out 3 in 7.1 innings. His road ERA is 11.05.

In contrast to Ellis, Trent has pitched well in the SEC both at home and on the road. In his two home SEC games he has given up 1 earned run on 9 hits and 4 walks while striking out 12 in 15.0 innings for an ERA of 0.60. For road SEC games he has a 1.46 ERA, giving up 2 earned runs on 11 hits and 1 walk while striking out 9 in 12.1 innings.

Smith has also been solid as Ole Miss' Sunday starter. During his two home SEC games he has a 2.13 ERA, giving up 3 earned runs on 12 hits and 2 walks while striking out 6 in 12.2 innings. On the road, he has given up 5 earned runs in 13.2 innings for a 3.29 ERA. He struck out 8 while walking 1 and allowing 14 hits.

Mississippi State is expected to start junior LHP Ross Mitchell (5-2, 1.54) Friday, junior RHP Trevor Fitts (2-2, 3.41) Saturday and TBA Sunday. I'm guessing MSU will start junior RHP Brandon Woodruff (1-2, 4.12) Sunday.

Mitchell has been outstanding in the SEC rotation whether it be at home or on the road. In his two home SEC starts he gave up 3 earned runs on 10 hits and 2 walks while striking out 5 in 16.1 innings for an ERA of 1.65. On the road he's slightly better with an ERA of 1.20. In his road starts he has allowed 2 earned runs on 9 hits and 5 walks while striking out 6 in 15.0 innings.

Fitts has been ok in his SEC starts. In his two home SEC games he has given up 2 earned runs on 9.2 innings while allowing 9 hits and 1 walk to go along with his 9 Ks. His home SEC ERA is 1.86. He has struggled on the road, allowing an ERA of 4.05, giving up 3 earned runs on 8 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7 in 6.2 innings.

Woodruff started off the season as MSU'S Friday starter but struggled in that role, allowing 11 earned runs on 16 hits and 14 walks while striking out 13 in 13.1 innings for an ERA of 7.43. When the SEC part of the season rolled around he was moved to the bullpen. He's appeared in relief four times (2 SEC, 2 non-conference) since then and has been outstanding, allowing 0 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks while striking out 10 in 10.2 innings. Projected as a possible first or second-round draft pick in the upcoming MLB Draft, he has been pitching like that type pitcher while in relief.

Relief Pitching - Ole Miss will likely use five pitchers in relief - sophomore LHP Matt Denny (0-1, 0 Saves, 1.59 ERA), senior RHP Aaron Greenwood (1-0, 1 S, 1.48), freshman LHP Wyatt Short (3-1, 1 S, 2.51), junior RHP Josh Laxer (2-0, 4 S, 1.77) and sophomore RHP Preston Tarkington (0-0, 0 S, 0.00).

Denny, who is mainly used in middle relief, has struggled in the SEC, allowing 1 run in 1.1 innings in 5 appearances.

Greenwood, on the other hand, has been outstanding in the SEC, allowing 0 runs in 13.2 innings of work in his 6 SEC appearances. He started out as a middle reliever but has turned into a closer for Ole Miss.

Short has been up and down in the SEC. In 6 SEC appearances he has given up 4 earned runs on 4 hits and 4 walks while striking out 5 in 7 innings. Of late, he has been used more in late relief.

Laxer has mainly been used as a closer in SEC action and been sporadic in that role. In his 6 SEC appearances he has given up 4 earned runs on 9 hits and 2 walks while striking out 9 in 7.1 innings.

Tarkington has pitched really well in his SEC appearances, allowing 0 runs in 5 appearances (2 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 SO). He's more of a matchup guy who will come in and pitch to a batter or two.

Mississippi State is expected to primarily use four pitchers in relief, senior RHP Ben Bracewell (2-2, 0 Saves, 2.48 ERA), sophomore RHP Myles Gentry (0-0, 2, 4.91), junior RHP Jonathan Holder (3-1, 4, 2.79) and junior LHP Jacob Lindgren (3-0, 2, 1.16).

Bracewell, who pitched 4 innings Tuesday night against Southern Miss, will likely be available for long relief either Saturday or Sunday, whichever day he's needed. In his two SEC relief appearances he has given up 1 earned run in 5.2 innings of work for an ERA of 1.61.

Gentry has been used in middle relief for MSU during SEC outings and has struggled in that role this season, giving up 4 earned runs on 8 hits and 3 walks while striking out 2 in 4.0 innings for work for an ERA of 9.00.

Holder is once again MSU's SEC closer and has been up and down in that role this season. In 4 appearances he has given up 2 earned runs on 7 hits and 1 walk while striking out 9 in 5.0 innings of work for an ERA of 3.60.

Lindgren, who can fill any relief role for MSU, has been outstanding in SEC play. In 4 appearances he has given up 0 earned runs on 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 17 in 10.2 innings for an ERA of 0.00.

Who's Hot at the Plate and Who's Not in the Last 5 Games - Ole Miss is led at the plate by junior Braxton Lee who comes in hitting .458 (11-of-24, 5 RBI). Not far behind is freshman J.B. Woodman who is batting .438 (7-of-16, 1 RBI). Next is senior Preston Overbey at .364 (4-of-11, 3 RBI), then junior Sikes Orvis at .333 (6-of-18, 4 RBI) and freshman Errol Robinson also at .333 (5-of-15, 1 RBI). Junior Auston Bousfield is hitting .318 (7-of-22, 3 RBI) and senior Will Allen comes in at .316 (6-of-19, 5 RBI). Next is junior Will Jamison at .308 (4-of-13, 2 RBI), freshman Brantley Bell at .300 (3-of-10, 1 RBI) and senior Austin Anderson at .250 (5-of-20, 7 RBI). In part-time duty senior John Gatlin is hitting .000 (0-of-7, 1 RBI).

Mississippi State is led at the plate by freshman Gavin Collins who comes in hitting at a .417 clip (5-of-12, 1 RBI) during the last 5 games. Not far behind is senior Derrick Armstrong who is hitting .353 (6-of-17, 1 RBI). Senior Brett Pirtle is hitting .294 (5-of-17, 0 RBI) as is junior Jake Vickerson (5-of-17, 0 RBI). Coming in hitting .250 (3-of-12, 3 RBI) is senior C.T. Bradford. Senior Demarcus Henderson is hitting . 154 (2-of-13, 1 RBI), senior Alex Detz is hitting .111 (2-of-18, 3 RBI), as is junior Seth Heck (2-of-18, 0 RBI). Junior Wes Rea is hitting .100 (2-of-20, 1 RBI). In part-time activity junior Zack Randolph is hitting .333 (2-of-6, 0 RBI) and junior Matthew Britton is hitting .000 (0-of-6, 0 RBI).

How Ole Miss and MSU Match Up
Ole Miss Category Mississippi State
25-8 Record 21-13
.299 Batting Average .262
189 (5.7 pg) Runs 168 (4.9 pg)
22 Home Runs 6
.369 OB % .369
51-66 Stolen Bases-Attempts 48-64
100 (3.0 pg) Walks 159 (4.7 pg)
197 (6.0 pg) Strikeouts 199 (5.9 pg)
270 (8.2 pg) LOB 282 (8.3 pg)
2.16 Team ERA 3.10
6 Saves 10
81 (2.5 pg) Walks 112 (3.3 pg)
254 (7.7 pg) Strikeouts 287 (8.4 pg)
.220 Batting Average Against .247
.974 Fielding % .984

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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