MSU-Austin Peay Baseball Preview

Mississippi State and Austin Peay tangle in a two-game series Tuesday and Wednesday at Austin Peay.

Weather - Tuesday: Clear skies with temperatures in the high to mid-70's. | Wednesday: Mostly cloudy with a slight chance for showers. Temps will start out in the low-80's and end up in the mid-70's by the end of the game.

Gametimes - Both games will start at 6 p.m. CDT.

Series History - The teams have played each other once, with MSU winning 4-3.

Coaches - Gary McClure has coached at APSU for 19th seasons, going 529-495-4. In OVC play, his teams have a record of 214-167-1. His teams have appeared in the NCAA Regionals twice, going 0-4.

MSU head coach Ron Polk, in his last 19 years as a head coach, has an overall record of 768-416-2. In SEC play, his teams have a 288-236 record. 14 of the 19 teams have appeared in NCAA Regionals with 3 going on to play in the College World Series. His teams have a 36-32 record in postseason NCAA play.

Austin Peay Home/MSU Road Records - Austin Peay is 15-9 at home while MSU is 10-6 on the road.

Last 10 Games Record - APSU has won 9 of their last 10 games, while MSU is 6-4.

Expected Pitching Rotations - Look for Austin Peay to start junior LHP Michael Dunn (2-0, 3.95) Tuesday and possibly freshman LHP Stephen Huff (2-3, 7.39) Wednesday.

Although he was very good early in the season, allowing just 1 run (unearned) in two early starts (13.1 IP, 10 H, 2 BB, 7 SO), including one against Vanderbilt, he has been fairly ineffective of late. In his last three outings - one a start - he has given up 9 runs (8 earned) on 15 hits and 2 walks in 8.1 innings for an earned run average of 8.64. He struck out no one in the outings. He did show signs of life in his last outing, giving up 1 run on 3 hits and a walk in 3.1 innings of relief work.

Stephen Huff hasn't pitch much of late, but in his last two outings, he has given up 11 runs (9 earned) on 15 hits and 2 walks while striking out 9 in 10.1 innings. His earned run average in those two outings is 7.84.

MSU is expected to start freshman LHP Tyler Whitney (5-1, 6.51) Tuesday. If they continue with their previous pattern, look for sophomore RHP Jared Koon (0-0, 9.69) or junior LHP Jesse Carver (0-0, 9.37) to start for MSU on Wednesday.

In his last three outings, Whitney has been very effective in two and not so effective in the third. In his appearances against Southern Miss and South Alabama, he gave up 2 runs (both earned) on 7 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 16 in 12.0 innings. Against Ole Miss he gave up 7 runs (5 earned) on 10 hits, 0 walks and 5 Ks in 4.0 innings. Overall, his ERA in the three games is 3.94.

In his last outing, Carver gave up 6 runs (5 earned) on 10 hits and 2 walks in 5.2 innings of relief work against Ole Miss. Koon threw 3.0 innings in his last appearance, giving up 3 earned runs on 4 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 4.

Relief Pitching (Last two weeks) - Austin Peay's top relief pitchers are sophomore RHP David Vicini, senior RHP Ben Wilshire and junior RHP Jeff Lykins.

Vicini has thrown in 5 games the past couple of weeks, giving up 4 runs (3 earned) on 9 hits and no walks while striking out 3 in 7.0 innings for a 3.86 earned run average. If his pattern of late continues, you'll know within the first batter or two if he's going to be effective. In three of his appearances he gave up no runs in 6.1 innings. In the other two he gave up 7 hits and all 4 of his runs in 0.2 inning.

Wilshire has thrown in 4 games, allowing 2 earned runs on 5 hits and no walks while striking out 2 in 4.0 innings of work for a ERA of 4.50. But in his last three outings, he's given up no runs in 3.0 innings.

Lykins has been used twice, throwing 4.2 innings. In those appearances he has given up 4 runs (2 earned) on 7 hits and 1 walk while striking out 4.

MSU's main relievers are sophomore RHP Aaron Weatherford, redshirt freshman RHP Ricky Bowen, true freshman RHP Greg Houston, junior RHP John Lalor and junior LHP Mitch Moreland.

Weatherford - who throws in the 92-93 miles per hour range, topping out at 96 - has been pitching well the past couple of weeks as MSU's main closer, throwing 12 innings in 4 games. He has given up 1 earned run on 8 hits and 3 walks while striking out 10. His earned run average is 0.75 during that span.

Not far behind him is Bowen, who has allowed 1 earned run on 6 hits and 0 walks while striking out 6 in 5.1 innings. His ERA is 1.69.

State has started using Houston more recently. And he's done fairly well, giving up 1 earned run on 2 hits and 2 walks in 2.0 innings of work against Auburn and Southern Miss for a 4.50 ERA.

Lalor continues to be used in long relief. In his two outings he has thrown 4.2 innings, giving up 2 earned runs on 3 hits and 4 walks while striking out 6. His ERA is 3.85 during the two appearances.

Mitch Moreland has only thrown once in the past couple of weeks, but it was a big-time performance. In 4.0 innings against Ole Miss he allowed 0 runs on 4 hits and 1 walk while striking out 3.

Hitting - In the last 5 games, the Governors are hitting a phenomenal .401 (69-for-172) as a team, while MSU is in what some would say is a team slump, batting at a .263 clip (52-for-198) as a team.

Who's Hot at the Plate and Who's Not in the Last 5 Games - In full-time action, APSU has 5 players who are hitting the ball extremely well. Tyler Farrar leads the way with a .522 average (12-for-23, 3 RBI). Not far behind is Jacob Crass with a .500 average (9-for-18, 1 RBI). Two other Govs are hitting over .400 - Rafael Hill .471 (8-for-17, 1 RBI) and Jake Lane .444 (8-for-18, 10 RBI). Will Hogue is hitting .353 (6-for-17, 5 RBI). In limited action, Matt Smith is hitting .636 (7-for-11, 2 RBI) and Josh Meeker is hitting .400 (4-for-10, 4 RBI). A couple of APSU players are hitting in the .230's - Levi Cheshire .238 (5-for-21, 1 RBI) and J.B. Gilbert .235 (4-for-17, 4 RBI).

MSU is in a team slump and it shows individually with just two players hitting over .300 during the past five games. The top spot belongs to Jeffrey Rea, who is hitting .522 (12-for-23, 2 RBI). Next up is Edward Easley hitting at a .348 clip (8-for-23, 5 RBI). Mitch Moreland comes in at third with a .261 batting average (6-for-23, 2 RBI). Not doing so well are Jet Butler .217 (5-for-23, 5 RBI), Connor Powers .211 (4-for-19, 0 RBI), Joseph McCaskill .200 (4-for-20, 5 RBI), Cade Hoggard .188 (3-for-16, 0 RBI), Brian LaNinfa .182 (4-for-22, 2 RBI) and Mark Goforth .158 (3-for-19, 0 RBI). Two names not listed are Brandon Turner and Jeff Flagg. Both have missed the last five games with injuries, but could be back for these two games.

How Austin Peay and MSU Match Up
Austin Peay Category Mississippi State
30-17 Record 31-12
.303 (4th in OVC) Batting Average .330 (1st in SEC)
286 (6.1 pg) Runs 339 (7.9 pg)
31 Home Runs 38
.425 Slugging % .468
63/87 Stolen Bases/Attempts 32/49
149 (3.2 pg) Walks 161 (3.7 pg)
314 (6.7 pg) Strikeouts 282 (6.6 pg)
368 (7.8 pg) LOB 361 (8.4 pg)
3.88 (1st in OVC) Team ERA 5.19 (11th in SEC)
9 Saves 13
127 (2.7 pg) Walks 114 (2.7 pg)
254 (5.4 pg) Strikeouts 364 (8.5 pg)
.277 Batting Average Against .303
.969 (1st in OVC) Fielding % .966 (5th in SEC)
57 Errors 57

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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