MSU-Kentucky Baseball Series Preview

Mississippi State and Kentucky play each other in a three-game Southeastern Conference series this weekend at Kentucky.

Weather - Friday - Temperatures should be in the mid 50s during the game. There is 5 to 15% chance of rain. | Saturday - The temperatures should be in the low 60s during the game with a 0% chance of rain. | Sunday - Temperatures should be in the high 50s with a 0% chance of rain.

Gametimes (Central Time) - Friday 5:30 p.m. | Saturday 1:00 p.m. | Sunday 12:00 p.m.

Coaches - This is Gary Henderson's seventh season at Kentucky. In his first 6 seasons he has an overall record of 196-149 and a 76-104 record in SEC play. His 2012 and 2014 teams appeared in regionals. His overall NCAA postseason record is 4-4.

John Cohen, who is entering his seventh season as the head coach at Mississippi State, has an overall record of 216-155 and a 79-100 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 12-8.

Kentucky Home/Mississippi State Road Records - Kentucky is 5-1 at home while MSU has not played any road games.

Expected Pitching Rotations - Kentucky is expected to start sophomore RHP Zack Brown (1-2, 2.77 ERA) Friday, junior RHP Dustin Beggs (2-2, 3.23) Saturday and junior RHP Kyle Cody (2-1, 3.62) Sunday

Brown has started four games this season. In those four starts, he has thrown 25 innings, allowing 16 hits and walking 10 while striking out 26. In his only SEC start this season, he allowed 5 runs (4 earned) in 5.1 innings. Teams are hitting .189 against him.

Beggs has made 5 starts this season. He has thrown 30.2 innings, allowing 26 hits and 8 walks while striking out 26. In his 1 SEC start, he threw 6.1 innings, allowing 4 runs on 4 hits and 5 walks while recording 6 Ks.

Cody has also made 5 starts this season. In 27.1 innings he has allowed 20 hits and 4 walks while recording 30 strikeouts. In his lone SEC start, he allowed 3 runs on 6 hits while walking 1 and striking out 4 in 6.1 innings of work.

Mississippi State will start junior RHP Preston Brown (3-1, 2.15 ERA) Friday, sophomore RHP Austin Sexton (6-4, 2.12) Saturday and sophomore LHP Vance Tatum (2-1, 2.73) Sunday.

Brown has been solid throughout the season, giving up either 1 or 2 runs in each of his five starts. He has given MSU at least 5 innings in every outing, throwing 5 innings once, 6 innings three times and 6.1 innings in the other outing. In his SEC start he gave up 2 runs on 5 hits and 4 walks in 6 innings of work.

After struggling in his first outing of the year (2 IP, 1 ER), Sexton has been very good in his last four, giving up 6 earned runs on 17 hits and 6 walks while striking out 30 in 27.2 innings (1.95 ERA). The only thing that has really hurt Sexton in those four outings is the home run. Five of the six runs that he has given up have been on the home runs ball.

After pitching in relief his first outing of the season, Tatum has been a starter in the games that he has appeared in since then. In those 4 starts he has thrown 25 innings, giving up 9 runs on 18 hits and 7 walks while striking out 29 (3.24 ERA). A little concerning is the fact that he didn't seem to have his best stuff in his last two outings, giving up 6 runs on 14 hits while only striking out 8 in 11 innings (4.91 ERA).

Relief Pitching - It's likely Kentucky will use upwards of six relievers - senior RHP Andrew Nelson (2-0, 1 Save, 4.00 ERA), senior Spencer Jack (0-0, 2 S, 8.31), junior LHP Dylan Dwyer (2-0, 0 S, 1.80), sophomore LHP Logan Salow (1-1, 1 S, 5.91), freshman LHP Zach Logue (1-0, 0 S, 1.80), freshman LHP Brad Schaenzer (0-0, 0 S, 1.10 ERA).

Nelson has appeared in 8 games both in middle and late relief.

Jack is Kentucky's closer. He has appeared in 7 games.

Dwyer is a middle relief pitcher for Kentucky. He has thrown in 5 games this season.

Salow is a late reliever for Kentucky. He has appeared in 8 games.

Logue has thrown in 8 games, mostly as a middle reliever.

Schaenzer has appeared in 6 games this season, mainly in late relief.

In the three SEC games against South Carolina last weekend, these six allowed 6 runs (5 earned) in 5.2 innings, which is an ERA of 7.89.

Look for Mississippi State to use senior LHP Ross Mitchell (3-2, 1 Save, 3.30 ERA), senior RHP Trevor Fitts (1-2, 4 S, 1.50), sophomore RHP Zac Houston (0-0, 0 S, 3.60), and sophomore LHP Daniel Brown (1-0, 1 S. 4.15) in relief.

Mitchell is back in the middle relief role that earned him All-American honors as a sophomore. Up until his last three outings he had been pitching extremely well, throwing in 7 games while allowing 2 earned runs in 18.2 innings for an ERA of 0.96. But in his last four appearances he has given up 9 runs in 11.1 innings (7.15 ERA).

Fitts has been MSU's closer this season and has performed well in that role. He has thrown in 10 games, allowing just 2 runs on 8 hits and 5 walks while striking out 12 in 12 innings. Teams are only hitting .182 against him.

Brown has pitched well at times this season, allowing 6 runs in 13 innings. His last two outing this season have been his worst, with him giving up 5 runs in 1 inning of work.

Houston has been used primarily as a setup man, throwing either in the middle of the game or late, depending on how long the starter goes. After pitching well in that role prior to SEC action (8.2 IP, 2 ER), last weekend against Alabama he didn't perform as well, giving up 2 runs in 1.1 inning of action.

Who's Hot at the Plate and Who's Not in SEC Games - Kentucky is led at the plate by JaVon Shelby who is hitting .444 with 0 home runs and 1 RBI in SEC play. Kyle Barrett comes in hitting at a .308 clip. He has no home runs and 1 RBI.

Marcus Carson is hitting .250 (0 HR, 1 RBI) while Storm Wilson is hitting .222 (0 HR, 3 RBI).

Riley Mahan is hitting .167 (0 HR, 0 RBI) , Evan White comes in hitting .154 (0 HR, 1 RBI), Greg Fettes is hitting .125 (0 HR, 0 RBI), Thomas Bernal is hitting .077 (0 HR, 1 RBI) and Connor Heady is hitting .000 (0 HR, 0 RBI).

Mississippi State is led at the plate in SEC games by Jacob Robson who is hitting .556 with 0 home runs and 2 RBI. Reid Humphreys is hitting .444 also with 0 home runs and 0 RBI. Jake Vickerson is hitting .400 with 0 home runs and 1 RBI.

Others are Cody Brown and John Holland both of whom are hitting .273 with 2 RBI each. Matt Spruill is hitting .250 with 0 homes and RBI.

Seth Heck is hitting .154 with no home runs or RBI. Josh Lovelady comes in hitting .143 with 0 home runs and 3 RBI in SEC action. Wes Rea is hitting an even .100 with 0 home runs and 2 RBI in SEC play.

How Kentucky and MSU Compare
Kentucky Category Mississippi State
13-7 Record 17-6
.294 Batting Average .290
116 (5.8 pg) Runs 153 (6.7 pg)
7 Home Runs 7
.379 OB % .425
29-36 Stolen Bases-Attempts 28-36
77 (3.9 pg) Walks 140 (6.1 pg)
128 (6.4 pg) Strikeouts 137 (6.0 pg)
179 (9.0 pg) LOB 214 (9.3 pg)
3.84 Team ERA 3.25
4 Saves 6
65 (3.3 pg) Walks 80 (3.5 pg)
172 (8.6 pg) Strikeouts 199 (8.7 pg)
.238 Batting Average Against .232
.968 Fielding % .976

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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