MSU-Georgia Baseball Preview

Mississippi State and Georgia tangle in a three-game Southeastern Conference series this weekend at Athens, Georgia.

Weather - Friday: Partly cloudy with a 30% chance of showers. Highs will be in the low 80's to high 70's. | Saturday: Partly cloudy with a 40% chance for showers. Highs will in the low 80's. | Sunday: Partly cloudy with a 10% chance for showers. Highs will be in the mid 80's.

Gametimes - Friday at 7:06 pm ET, Saturday at 2 p.m. ET and Sunday at 2 pm ET.

5-Year Series History - In the last 5 years, Georgia has won 10 of 16 against MSU. MSU is 2-4 in games played at Athens.

Coaches - Georgia's David Perno, in his five seasons at Georgia, has an overall record of 183-126 and 74-75 in SEC play. Three of his five teams have appeared in NCAA post-season play, going 15-9 overall. Two of his teams have made it to the College World Series.

MSU's coach Ron Polk, during the same 5-year period, has an overall record of 190-113-2 and an SEC record of 69-77. Four of his teams have gone on to play in the NCAA post-season. Their post-season record is 7-8. None have made it to the College World Series.

Georgia Home/MSU Road Records - Georgia is 14-19 at home, while MSU is 10-8 on the road.

Expected Pitching Rotations (Last three SEC outings are compared) - MSU is expected to start sophomore RHP Chad Crosswhite (6-2, 4.24) on Friday, junior LHP Justin Pigott (4-4, 5.33) on Saturday and senior RHP Josh Johnson (2-2, 5.51) on Sunday.

Sandwiched between a bad outing against Ole Miss (2.1 IP, 12 H, 11 R, 8 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO), Crosswhite has thrown two very good SEC games against Auburn and LSU. In those two games he allowed 4 runs (all earned) on 13 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 7 in 16 innings for a 2.25 ERA. Overall, in the three games, he has an earned run average of 5.89.

Pigott in his last three outings has given up 5 runs in each. 12 of the 15 runs were earned. In 22.0 innings of work he has given up 12 earned runs on 24 hits and 5 walks, while striking out 22. He has gone 7.1, 6.2 and 8.0 innings in the three appearances. His overall ERA in the three games is 4.91.

Although he didn't throw as well in his last outing as he did in his previous two, Johnson has been pretty solid as the Sunday SEC starter for the Bulldogs. In his last outing he gave up 3 runs (all earned) on 8 hits and 1 walk in 5.1 innings. His previous two outings he threw 12 innings (6 IP each game), giving up 2 runs (both earned) on 7 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 5. His three-game ERA is 2.60.

Georgia is expected to start sophomore RHP Stephen Dodson (4-4, 2.44) on Friday, sophomore LHP Nathan Moreau (4-2, 4.75) on Saturday and sophomore RHP Trevor Holder (1-3, 4.25) on Sunday.

Although Dodson currently leads the SEC in earned run average, his last three SEC outings have shown a trend where he has gotten worse in each. After allowing just 1 run in 9 innings against Arkansas, he has given up 3 runs in 6 innings against Kentucky and 5 runs in 7 innings against Vanderbilt. All the runs were earned. His total numbers in the three games are 22.0 IP, 17 H, 9 ER, 6 BB and 13 SO. His three-game ERA is 3.68.

Moreau, on the other hand, has shown a positive trend in his last three SEC outings. After giving up 5 runs on 7 hits in 3.2 innings against Arkansas, he has given up 2 runs on 7 hits in 5 innings against Kentucky and 0 runs on 4 hits in 7 innings against Vanderbilt. His ERA in the three appearances is 4.02.

Holder, the expected Sunday starter, in his last three starting outings (only one versus an SEC opponent, Arkansas, and two against Georgia Tech and Wofford) has allowed 6 runs (5 earned) on 8 hits, 4 walks and 12 strikeouts in 10.1 innings. His starting ERA is 4.36. He's also thrown three games in relief during the past 10 games. In 5 innings, he's given up 4 runs (all earned) on 6 hits and 5 walks, while striking out 5. His relief ERA is 7.20.

Relief Pitching (Last 10 games are used as comparison) - MSU will very likely use Aaron Weatherford, Ricky Bowen, John Lalor, Mitch Moreland and Greg Houston in relief.

Weatherford, in 4 games, has thrown 12 innings, allowing 1 run (earned) on 8 hits and 3 walks. He's struck out 10. His ERA is a miniscule 0.75. Although he threw 7 innings against Ole Miss in one of the outings, he normally throws no more than 1 to 2 innings.

Bowen has also thrown in 4 games, allowing 1 earned run on 6 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 8 in 6.1 innings. His ERA is a very good 1.42 during the 4 appearances. He normally will throw 1 inning. He's been used as both a setup man and a closer during the four games.

Lalor is almost used exclusively in long relief. He normally throws 2 to 3 innings when he comes in. During his last three outings, he has thrown 8 innings, giving up 3 earned runs (1 each game) on 6 hits and 4 walks, while striking out 9. His three-game ERA is 3.38.

Houston has also pitched in three games, although he hasn't been as effective as Lalor. In 4.1 innings, he's given up 4 runs (1 earned) on 6 hits and 3 walks. He struck out 4. His ERA is 2.08 during the three games.

Although he's only thrown in 2 games during the 10-game period, Moreland has pitched extremely well, giving up 0 runs on 5 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 5 in 5 innings.

As for Georgia, they have several guys they throw in relief, including Alex McRee, Ryan Woolley, Joshua Fields, Justin Earls and Steve Esmonde.

Fields, who has 4 saves this season, has been used 4 times during the past 10 games, 3 as a closer. In his 5 innings of work, he has given up 4 runs (2 earned) on 4 hits and 3 walks. He's struck out 5. His ERA is 3.60.

Earls has thrown 7 innings in 5 games. He's allowed 9 runs (8 earned) on 9 hits and 4 walks, while striking out 3. His ERA is 11.57 in the 7 innings.

McRee, who appears to be used mostly in long relief, has thrown 8.2 innings in 4 appearances. He's allowed 7 earned runs on 11 hits and 7 walks, while striking out 8. His ERA is 7.27.

Woolley is usually used in middle relief. In his 6.2 innings of work he has given up 2 earned runs on 7 hits and 2 walks. His ERA is 2.70 in the 4 games.

Although he usually is used in mid-week games, Georgia has also used Esmonde in SEC games a couple of times the past 10 games. In 3.1 innings, he has given up 3 runs (1 earned) on 4 hits and 1 walk. His four-game ERA is 2.70.

Hitting - In the last five games, MSU is hitting .277 as a team. Georgia, during the same period, is batting .307.

Who's Hot at the Plate and Who's Not in the Last 5 Games - MSU has four players who have hit the ball well during the past five games. Jeffrey Rea leads the way with a .476 average (10-for-21, 1 RBI), followed by Mitch Moreland and Brian LaNinfa with a .333 average. Moreland is 7-for-21 with 4 RBI, while LaNinfa is 6-for-18 with 2 RBI. Ed Easley is hitting .318 (7-for-22, 5 RBI). Brandon Turner, who has been injured for the past few games, started for the first time in awhile against Austin Peay this past Wednesday. In limited action, during the past five games, he's hitting .600 (3-for-5, 1 RBI). Not hitting the ball so well are Connor Powers .222 (4-for-18, 2 RBI), Jet Butler .217 (5-for-23, 4 RBI), Joseph McCaskill .200 (4-for-20, 5 RBI), Cade Hoggard .143 (2-for-14, 0 RBI) and Mark Goforth .071 (1-for-14, 0 RBI).

As for Georgia, they have five players who are hitting the ball well. Jonathan Wyatt is hitting .476 (10-21, 5 RBI), Travis Parrott .409 (9-for-22, 4 RBI), Mike Freeman .375 (6-for-16, 2 RBI), Ryan Peisel .368 (7-for-19, 3 RBI) and Matt Olson .364 (8-for-22, 7 RBI). Gordon Beckham is hitting a respectable .278 (5-for-18, 3 RBI). Slumping are Matt Robbins .214 (3-for-14, 2 RBI), Rich Poythress .167 (3-for-18, 6 RBI) and Joey Lewis .125 (2-for-16, 0 RBI).

How Georgia and MSU Match Up
Georgia Category Mississippi State
20-30 Record 31-14
.279 (11th in SEC) Batting Average .325 (2nd in SEC)
258 (5.2 pg) Runs 346 (7.7 pg)
37 Home Runs 40
.398 Slugging % .461
51/70 Stolen Bases/Attempts 33/50
184 (3.7 pg) Walks 168 (3.7 pg)
334 (6.7 pg) Strikeouts 296 (6.6 pg)
431 (8.6 pg) LOB 380 (8.4 pg)
4.41 (6th in SEC) Team ERA 5.09 (11th in SEC)
6 Saves 13
202 (4.0 pg) Walks 121 (2.7 pg)
337 (6.7 pg) Strikeouts 385 (8.6 pg)
.258 Batting Average Against .302
.963 (7th in SEC) Fielding % .964 (6th in SEC)
72 Errors 62

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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