Mississippi State’s opening-day game with Georgia in the SEC Tournament won’t be on opening day after all. The battle of the Bulldogs instead has been moved to Wednesday morning with a 9:30 start time.
And, now a 7:00 breakfast call, Coach Andy Cannizaro said. As well as an early bed-check Tuesday, at a time Mississippi State had thought they would be on the Hoover Met field playing the other Dogs.
“I think the biggest thing is make sure your guys get their rest,” Cannizaro said of his own revised schedule. “A 9:30 start for us is going to be fine in terms of there’s not going to be any lack of energy and emotion. It’s the SEC Tournament, everybody has to win.”
The SEC Office decided early to change the late game as Tuesday’s combination of an extra-inning opener, a high-scoring second game and weather delays threw the schedule too far behind. SEC Tournament games can start as late as 11:59pm and play into the wee hours (if not interrupted).
However, officials didn’t want to put the teams on the field so late as seemed likely. Game-three of the first day pitting Ole Miss against Auburn did not start until 7:55. Even a standard three-hour game and field prep time would have pushed the Bulldogs and Bulldogs to the time limit.
And there was not much standard about the do-or-die Tuesday games finished as of this writing. South Carolina and Vanderbilt went into 11 innings before the Gamecocks came out ahead 7-4. That meant a 2:11 start for Missouri-Texas A&M.
As both teams scored runs in bunches weather arrived and suspended play. A break let the Met crew pull the tarp, prep the field…and then hastily bring the tarp back as another shower struck. Missouri finally won 12-7 to send the Aggies home.
Ironically game-three was moving along nicely of 8:20pm with the Rebels leading 2-0. But the schedule has been re-set as listed below.
The MSU-Georgia game will still be part of the single-elimination round. A Georgia loss would end their season; while State could survive a defeat by receiving a NCAA at-large berth all the same. Cannizaro isn’t willing to risk this though.
So, late Monday he announced ace lefthander Pilkington (6-5, 3.41) would get the start. This despite Pilkington having thrown six innings and 107 pitches last Thursday evening in a loss to LSU. After the series ended Saturday, the first-year coach noted Pilkington normally throws a bullpen session on Tuesdays. So giving him a start and trying to get three, maybe four good innings out of the lead Dog should not stress Pilkington’s left arm.
Now, with an extra dozen or so hours? “Us getting rained out benefits our team a lot in terms of having Konnor on an extra day’s rest,” Cannizaro said.
“Now it’s back to the mid-season, short day-type of outing. With his size and strength, and he usually carries his velocity pretty well on short rest. So we’re looking forward to getting him back out there.”
Wednesday morning is do-or-die for both teams as far as their Hoover visit. Should State win, they will play the early Thursday game as well; and a loss would mean playing again late in the evening. Only Cannizaro and Coach Gary Henderson know if this means holding anyone in reserve just in case; or if the Bulldogs will approach every contest as a season in itself and throw everything available at any opponent.
For that matter, the forecast presents a serious chance for one more storm coming through late morning Wednesday. Which would further adjust the schedule. The SEC has said that as long as no more than four games are ‘lost’ from the original schedule to weather or long play, the format will remain double-elimination to get down to four finalists and then single elimination.
If more than four games are ‘lost’ the entire tournament shifts to single-elimination. Cannizaro isn’t going to fret those possibilities though.
“Whenever they say go, we’ll be ready.”
REVISED SEC TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
Game 4: #5 Mississippi State vs Georgia 9:30am
Game 5: #3 Kentucky vs. #11 South Carolina tbd
Game 6: #2 LSU vs #10 Missouri tbd
Game 7: #1 Florida vs. Winner Ole-Miss Auburn
Game 8: #4 Arkansas vs Mississippi State-Georgia winner
Game 9: Loser G5 vs Loser G6
Game 10: Loser G7 vs Loser G8
Game 11: Winner G5 vs Winner G6
Game 12: Winner G7 vs Winner G8
Game 13: Winner G9 vs Loser G11
Game 14: Winner G10 vs Loser G12
Game 15: Winner G13 vs Winner G11
Game 16: Winner G14 vs Winner G12
Game 17: Winner Game 15 vs Winner G16