Andy Cannizaro (Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page)

Hattiesburg Regional Saturday Rounds Washed Out; Three Sunday Games Set but More Weather Expected

HATTIESBURG – The Diamond Dogs will play another day after all. Though, it’s because Ma Nature was the winner this time.

Saturday’s second round of the Hattiesburg Regional has been washed out. With Denson Field soaked and more rain falling, the Mississippi State vs Illinois-Chicago elimination game—scheduled at 1:00—was officially suspended.

So was the 6:00 winners bracket game of host Southern Mississippi and South Alabama. Instead, the whole schedule moves to Sunday. The Bulldogs and Flames go first, at 10:00am, after which one goes home.

The winners game follows at 2:00. Then, the day’s two losers match up at 6:00 to end a second squad’s season. Even this Sunday re-schedule is subject to further changes. The forecast calls for another round of rains, highest chances in the early afternoon again.

A three-game day is rare since the schedule must not set up to force any team to play three times per NCAA policy. Had State and UIC been able to get their game in Saturday, such a situation would have been possible for either USM or USA. That fortunately isn’t possible now.

So, weather allowing, Pete Taylor Park hosts three complete Sunday games. This can’t complete the Regional so a Monday game is now guaranteed and two is a possibility.

#2 seed Mississippi State (36-25) was put in the losers bracket by #3 South Alabama’s 6-3 Friday evening win. The Bulldogs were going to start ace LHP Konnor Pilkington (7-5, 3.13) in the do-or-done meeting with the Flames, 8-7 losers Friday to Southern Mississippi.

Coach Andy Cannizaro has not indicated any change of pitching plan for the elimination game. Though, with another night to evaluate the situation, he and pitching coach Gary Henderson could always make a switch for the #4 seed Flames. That, or more likely opt to save both RHP Jacob Billingsley (1-3, 5.15) and RHP Denver McQuary (2-3, 4.78) for another game…or two, if the Bulldogs can stay alive long enough.

State also has primary late reliever RHP Riley Self (5-1, 3.89) fresh for as long a stint as needed.

Illinois-Chicago is supposed to start righthander Reid Birlingmair (7-4, 2.57). The Flames did use four pitchers in Friday’s loss and two of the relievers did throw 30 pitches. But UIC still has a pair of regular righty starters, Birlingmair and Jack Anderson (5-2, 3.30) as well as their primary closer in righty Alex Padilla (2-1, 0.49, 10 saves).

Of course if the Dogs and Flames get their game under way and are interrupted, even delayed for a few hours, all those arms might be needed to complete just one contest.

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