MSU-Ole Miss Baseball Preview

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

Weather - Friday - Clear skies, high to mid-60's | Saturday - 40% chance of showers, mid-70's | Sunday - Sunny, low-80's.

Gametimes - Friday - 6:30 p.m. | Saturday - 3:00 p.m. | Sunday - 1:30 p.m. All three games will be televised. Friday's game will be carried by Comcast Sports, Saturday's by FSN South and Sunday's by SportSouth.

5-Year Series History - Since 2002, the teams are both 11-11. In games played at Oxford, State has a 3-3 record.

Coaches - Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco has a seven-year record (including this year's record) at Ole Miss of 270-147-1. He has seen two of his teams win 40 or more games. He has a 111-85 SEC record. Five of his first six teams have made it to NCAA regionals, including two Super Regionals. In NCAA post-season play, his teams have a 10-10 record. None of his teams have made it to the College World Series.

MSU's Ron Polk, during the same seven years (MSU and Georgia), has a 269-145-2 record, including a 98-94 SEC record. Three of his teams have won 40 or more games. Five of his six teams have appeared in NCAA post-season play, including one Super Regional. One of his teams appeared in the College World Series.

Ole Miss Home/MSU Road Records - Ole Miss is 19-7 at home. MSU is 9-4 on the road (5-2 in SEC away games).

Expected Pitching Rotations - Ole Miss: Friday, junior RHP Will Kline (5-1, 3.23 ERA), Saturday sophomore RHP Lance Lynn (4-3, 2.64 ERA) and Sunday LHP Nathan Baker (5-1, 3.86 ERA).

Although he has a very good overall ERA, Kline hasn't been that effective in his last three SEC outings (South Carolina, LSU and Georgia), going 1-0 with a 5.03 ERA. He's given up 12 runs (11 earned) on 24 hits and 5 walks in 19.2 innings. He's struck out 20. He's gone no farther than 7.2 innings in any of the three outings.

Lynn, on the other hand, has pitched about as well in the last three SEC outings as his overall ERA. He's 1-1 with a 2.96 earned run average in those outings. In 21.1 innings of work, he's given up 8 runs (7 earned) on 17 hits and 8 walks. He's struck out 29. His last outing was his best, he threw a complete-game shutout against South Carolina.

Baker, in his last three SEC appearances, has thrown 12.1 innings, allowing 10 runs (6 earned) on 15 hits and 2 walks. He's struck out 8. He's got a 2-0 record and a 4.39 ERA.

For MSU, Friday - sophomore RHP Chad Crosswhite (5-1, 3.24 ERA), Saturday - junior LHP Justin Pigott (3-3, 5.58 ERA) and Sunday - senior RHP Josh Johnson (2-2, 6.18 ERA).

Since becoming a starter in the SEC, Crosswhite has been very effective, going 3-0 with a 3.27 ERA in his three appearances (LSU, Tennessee and Arkansas). In 22.0 innings, he's given up 10 runs (8 earned) on 26 hits and 5 walks. He's struck out 16.

Pigott continues to struggle in SEC play, going 1-1 with a 5.65 ERA in his last three SEC outings. In 22.1 innings, he's given up 15 runs (14 earned) on 27 hits and 6 walks, while striking out 17.

Johnson has been up and down. In his last three SEC outings, he's 0-1 with a 4.41 ERA. In 14.1 innings, he's given up 7 runs (all earned) on 11 hits and 5 walks, while striking out 11. His last outing was his best, he went 6 innings and only gave up 1 run on 2 hits and no walks.

Relief Pitching - Look for Ole Miss to primarily use Cody Satterwhite and Justin Cryer this weekend.

Satterwhite appears to have replaced Scott Bittle as Ole Miss' closer. And he's done well in that role the past three weekends. In 10.1 innings, he's given up 3 runs (2 earned) on 5 hits and 6 walks, while striking out 8. In 5 appearances he's got a 1-1 record with 1 save. His ERA is 1.75. He normally goes no more than 2 innings an outing.

Cryer has appeared in 4 of Ole Miss' last 9 SEC games. He's recorded no record or saves. In 10.2 innings, he's given up 6 runs (all earned) on 6 hits and 6 walks, while striking out 12. His ERA in those four games is 5.05.

As for Mississippi State, look for them to use Aaron Weatherford, Ricky Bowen, John Lalor and possibly Mitch Moreland.

Weatherford has become MSU's closer since Crosswhite has taken over the Friday night starting duties. During the past two weekends, he's thrown 5.0 innings, giving up 2 runs (both unearned) on 2 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 3. He's got a record of 0-1 with a save during the two appearances.

Moreland has also been used in late inning duty. In 1.2 innings over the course of the past three SEC weekends, he's given up 2 runs (both earned) on 2 hits. He's struck out 3 and walked no one. His record is 1-0 with no saves and an ERA of 10.59.

Look for Lalor and Bowen to be used in middle relief for no more than a couple of innings a game.

Lalor has appeared in two games the past three weekends, allowing 4 earned runs on 4 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 4. His ERA is 10.91 in the games. Bowen has appeared in three games during the same period, giving up 5 runs (4 earned) on 10 hits and 2 walks in 5.1 innings of work. He's struck out 4. His ERA is 6.79.

Hitting - Ole Miss is batting .315 as a team, 4th best in the SEC. They have one player batting over .400, Justin Henry at .409, which is 4th in the SEC. His younger brother Jordan, a freshman, is hitting at a .372 clip, which is 6th in the league. Of their projected starters for this weekend, they have three other players hitting over .300 - Zack Cozart (.341), Zach Miller (.333) and Cody Overbeck (.320).

MSU leads the SEC in hitting with a .340 batting average. Redshirt freshman Brandon Turner leads the league in hitting with a .444 batting average. Four other Bulldog hitters are among the top 15 hitters in the SEC - Edward Easley (5th, .393), Joseph McCaskill (8th, .368), Mitch Moreland (13th, .356) and Mark Goforth (15th, .347).

Who's Hot at the Plate and Who's Not in the Last 5 Games - Ole Miss has eight players batting over .350 the last five games, although three did it in limited action. Leading the team is Jordan Henry with a .522 batting average (12-for-23) and 1 RBI. Logan Power and Justin Henry are next with a .389 average. (7-for-18). Both have knocked in 3 runs apiece. Following them is Zack Cozart and Cody Overbeck with a .350 average (7-for-20). Overbeck has 7 RBI and Cozart 5. In limited action, C.J. Ketchum has hit .400 (4-for-10, 2 RBI), Evan Button at .444 (4-for-9, 3 RBI) and Kyle Mills .429 (3-for-7, 2 RBI). Not doing so well is Brett Basham who is hitting .188 (3-for-16, 3 RBI) and Fuller Smith at .091 (1-for-11, 1 RBI). Zach Miller is hitting .222 (4-for-18, 3 RBI).

For the Bulldogs, four players are hitting over .400 the past five games, one in limited action. Leading the charge is the SEC's leading hitter, redshirt freshman Brandon Turner. Brandon has hit .524 (11-for-21, 6 RBI). True freshman Connor Powers, who had been in a slump the previous two weekends, has broken out of his slump and is hitting a robust .500 (9-for-18, 5 RBI). Joseph McCaskill is hitting .421 (8-for-19, 2 RBI). In limited action, Jet Butler, yet another true freshman, is hitting at a .556 (5-for-9, 3 RBI) clip. Two other players have hit .300 or better - Ed Easley .333 (5-for-15, 10 RBI) and Jeffrey Rea (6-for-20, 2 RBI). Mark Goforth has hit a decent .278 (5-for-18, 1 RBI). In slumps are Andy Rice at .077 (1-for-13, 1 RBI) and Jeff Flagg at .182 (2-for-11, 0 RBI).

How Ole Miss and MSU Match Up
Ole Miss Category Mississippi State
28-15 Record 27-10
.315 (4th in SEC) Batting Average .340 (1st in SEC)
272 (6.3 pg) Runs 303 (8.2 pg)
37 Home Runs 33
.447 Slugging % .483
55/72 Stolen Bases/Attempts 29/44
132 (3.1 pg) Walks 136 (3.7 pg)
219 (5.1 pg) Strikeouts 241 (6.5 pg)
344 (8.0 pg) LOB 303 (8.2 pg)
3.00 (T-1st in SEC) Team ERA 5.36 (12th in SEC)
11 Saves 12
152 (3.5 pg) Walks 99 (2.7 pg)
375 (8.7 pg) Strikeouts 326 (8.9 pg)
.230 Batting Average Against .305
.977 (1st in SEC) Fielding % .966 (4th in SEC)
37 Errors 47

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 swindoll@genespage.com.

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