MSU - MSU is 10-2 so far this season. They are 8-1 at home while 2-1 on the road. Their team ERA is 3.96, which is 9th overall in the SEC, while their batting average is an SEC-leading .381. They have scored 109 runs, while hitting 11 home runs. Fielding-wise, State comes in at .972, which ties them for second place in the SEC. During their current road trip, MSU is batting at a .333 clip while averaging 5.3 runs per game. They have struck out just 15 times in the three games.
UTA - UTA is 8-4 at home this season and 1-6 on the road. They have won three in a row (a three-game sweep of Illinois) and 5 of their last six. All were home games. They have played 5 ranked teams, losing all five (at Texas 4-9, Nebraska 4-5, at Texas A&M 5-9, at Baylor 7-9 and Oklahoma State 1-19). Their team ERA is 6.19 (10th in the Southland Conference) while their batting average is .296 (5th in their conference). They have scored 130 runs while hitting 13 home runs. They field at a .958 clip (4th in their conference). During their current home stand, UTA is averaging 13.5 hits and 10.5 runs a game while hitting .360.
Starting Pitchers - State freshman left-hander Tyler Whitney (1-0, 2.70) is expected to take the mound for his third start of the young season. The Mavericks anticipate starting sophomore right-hander Nathan Long (1-2. 4.58).
Tyler has pitched in 2 games, both of which were starting assignments against Mississippi Valley State and UAB. In 10 innings of work, he has allowed 5 runs (3 earned) on 10 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 6. Teams are hitting .244 against him.
Nathan, in 6 games, has thrown 19.2 innings, giving up 11 runs (10 earned) on 20 hits and 5 walks. He has struck out 10. Teams are hitting .274 against him. This will be his second start of the season. His first start was against Houston. In that outing, he allowed 4 runs on 6 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 3 in a 5-inning appearance that he took the loss in. However, he's coming off the best outing of the young season this past weekend against Illinois. In that game, Nathan allowed 1 unearned run on 2 hits and no walks in seven innings of work. He struck out five.
MSU Individual Hitting - State is led at the plate by junior catcher Ed Easley who is hitting .510 with 3 home runs and 16 RBI. Junior first baseman Mitch Moreland comes in second with a .478 batting average. Mitch has hit 1 home run and drove in 10 runs. Both players have gotten at least a base hit in all 12 games this season. Redshirt freshman shortstop Brandon Turner is hitting at a .417 clip while knocking in 13 runs. He has hit no home runs. Other Bulldogs hitting over .300 include sophomore left fielder Jeff Flagg (.378, 3 HR, 12 RBI), senior DH Brian LaNinfa (.367, 0-14), sophomore centerfielder Mark Goforth (.350, 0-4, 8 stolen bases), senior second baseman Jeffrey Rea (.333, 0-5, 4 stolen bases). Slightly under the .300 mark is freshman third baseman Connor Powers, who is hitting .298 with 3 home runs and 6 RBI.
UTA Individual Hitting - Four players are hitting over .300 for UTA, led by Kyle Rudy's .385 average. He has hit 1 home run and knocked in 8 runs. Danny Slinkman follows with a .380 average. He has 0 home runs and 10 RBI. Ben Burum is hitting .333 with 2 home runs and 10 RBI, while Mitch Putman is hitting .323 with 4 home runs and 14 RBI.
MSU Relief Pitching - Look for three youngsters to be the first to come out of the pen if needed. Sophomore right-hander Chad Crosswhite has a 1-1 record with 2 saves and a 1.93 ERA in 5 appearances. In 9.1 innings of work, he has allowed 12 hits, walked 4 while striking out 9. Although he has given up 7 runs, only 2 are earned. Redshirt freshman right-hander Ricky Bowen has also recorded 2 saves in 5 games. His record is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA. In his 6.2 innings of work he has given up 2 hits, 0 runs, while walking 2 and striking out 5. True freshman right-hander Greg Houston has been almost as impressive. In 6.2 innings of work he has given up 3 runs (1 earned) on 7 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7. He has a 0-0 record with 1 save and a 1.35 ERA. Although he's only thrown 2 innings this season, junior left-hander Mitch Moreland has been very impressive, striking out 5 while walking 1 and giving up 1 hit.
Three relief pitchers that are currently out of action are Mike Valentine, who is on the current road trip, but hasn't fully recovered from a labrum tear and Drew Hollinghead (labrum tear) and Andy Wilson (stress fracture), both of whom are likely out for the season.
UTA Relief Pitching - Look for UTA to go to either junior right-hander Jeffrey Nollen or sophomore right-hander Brandon Endsley if Long gets into trouble. Endsley (3-1, 5.93, 0 saves), their ace relief pitcher, has thrown 13.2 innings, allowing 9 runs (all earned) on 16 hits and 2 walks. He has struck out 9. Teams are hitting .302 against him. Nollen has appeared in 5 games, all in relief, with a 0-1 record and no saves and a 4.50 ERA. In 8 innings of work, he has given up 7 runs (4 earned) on 8 hits and 10 walks, while striking out 6. Teams are hitting .258 against him. Two other possibilities are freshman left-hander Colt Simon (0-0, 6.75, 0 saves) and junior right-hander PJ Burns (1-1, 7.04, 0).
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.