MSU-Stetson Baseball Preview

Mississippi State and Stetson tangle in the first game of the NCAA Tallahassee regional Friday afternoon.

Weather - Partly cloudy and in the low 90's.

Gametime - Friday, Noon CDT, 1 p.m. ET.

Expected Starting Pitchers (How they've performed in their last three outings) - Junior RHP Corey Kluber (11-2, 2.19 ERA) will throw for Stetson, while MSU is expected to start sophomore RHP Chad Crosswhite (7-4, 4.50).

The ace of their staff, Kluber, in his last three outings (vs. Belmont, Lipscomb, Lipscomb) has thrown 21.0 innings, allowing 10 runs (6 earned) on 25 hits and 9 walks. He struck out 22. His three-start earned run average is 2.57. Teams have their biggest inning against him in the second, scoring 6 of the 10 runs he's given up during his 3 outings.

Crosswhite, in his last three outings, hasn't been as effective as he was earlier in the season. He has thrown 5, 4 and 6 innings in the three games. He did pitch well against No. 1 ranked Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks in the six innings. He struck out 8. Overall, in his three outings, he gave up 9 runs (all earned) on 20 hits and 7 walks in 15 innings, while striking out 22. His three-game ERA is 5.40.

Relief Pitching (How they've done in the last 10 games of the season) - Stetson appears to use five guys in relief - Robbie Elsemiller (3-1, 12 S, 2.32 ERA), Justin Dechert (6-3, 4 S, 4.41), Ian Thompson (1-2, 0 S, 7.62), Blake Marsocci (0-1, 0 S, 5.54) and Bobby Donovan (1-3, 0 S, 3.48).

Although he appears to be the closer on the staff, Elsemiller has been ineffective of late, allowing 7 runs (6 earned) on 9 hits and 4 walks in his last 4.2 innings over a span of 4 games. His four-game ERA is 11.56.

Considering he has been used in the last three games that Stetson starting pitcher Kluber has thrown, don't be surprised if Dechert is used against MSU when Kluber is taken out. But you don't know what you will get when Dechert throws. In his last five outings he has given up 4 runs (all earned) on 9 hits and 1 walk in 4.1 innings of work. His ERA is 8.31. But he has looked fairly good in his last two games, allowing no runs in 2.1 innings of work.

Thompson has been the most effective reliever of late. Pitching in five games, he has given up 2 runs (1 earned) on 4 hits while walking no one in 3.2 innings. He struck out 4. His earned run average in the five games is 2.45.

Donovan and Marsocci might also be used. Both are normally used in long relief. In 5.2 innings, Donovan has given up 5 runs for an ERA of 7.94, while Marsocci has given up 4 runs in 6 innings of work for an ERA of 6.00.

If MSU's starting pitchers falter, the Bulldog coaching staff won't hesitate to go to the bullpen. And during the last 10 games, the bullpen of John Lalor, Ricky Bowen, Greg Houston, Mitch Moreland and Jesse Carver has been outstanding. Add in a healthy Aaron Weatherford and they become even better.

Leading the bullpen most recently has been John Lalor. And how he has led. In 5 games he has thrown 14 innings, giving up just 1 run on 8 hits and 4 walks, while striking out 13. His ERA is a miniscule 0.64.

Greg Houston has also performed well in the two games he's thrown in. In 5 innings, he gave up 5 hits and walked just one, while giving up three runs (all unearned) for an ERA of 0.00.

Mitch Moreland has thrown 2 innings of one-hit, no-run ball while walking no one and striking out 3. Obviously, his ERA is 0.00.

Ricky Bowen has done really well himself, giving up 1 earned run on 2 hits and 4 walks in 4.2 innings of work. He struck out 6. His ERA is 1.93 for the four games.

Jesse Carver, in 3 innings, gave up 3 runs (1 earned) on 4 hits and zero walks. His ERA is 3.00.

Overall, the fivesome of Lalor, Houston, Bowen, Moreland and Carver have given up 3 earned runs on 20 hits and 9 walks, while striking out 25 in 28.2 innings. Their ERA in those 28+ innings is 0.95.

Hitting - Although Stetson is averaging .302 as a team and averaging 6.3 runs per game over the course of the entire season, during the past 10 games they are hitting .230 as a team and scoring 3.1 runs per game.

As a team, MSU is batting .316 and averaging 7.1 runs per game but during the last 10 games State's team batting average is .251 and they are scoring at a 3.7 runs per game clip.

Who's Hot at the Plate and Who's Not in the Last 10 Games - Stetson has really struggled at the plate the past 10 games. They actually have more starters batting under .200 than over .300 during the 10-game stretch.

Leading the charge is Justin Bass, who is hitting .359 (14-for-39) with 5 RBI. He's followed by Shane Jordan at .333 (14-for-42) with 1 RBI. Casey Frawley is hitting a decent .265 (9-for-34) with 3 RBI. The leading RBI guy on the team during the 10 games is Adam Tindle with 8. He's hitting .237 (9-for-38), so he makes his hits count.

Not hitting the ball so well are Braedyn Pruitt at .241 (7-for-29, 2 RBI), Erich Holland .217 (5-for-23, 4 RBI), Josh Clendenin .143 (3-for-21), Jeremy Cruz .111 (4-for-36, 2 RBI) and Kevin Johnson at .050 (1-for-20).

Mississippi State's hitters are faring a little better at the plate during their last 10 games. The leading hitter is Jeffrey Rea with a .350 batting average (14-for-40, 2 RBI). Edward Easley is next with a .333 batting average (13-for-39, 7 RBI). Not far behind is Mitch Moreland at .297 (11-for-37, 6 RBI) and Brian LaNinfa at .294 (10-for-34, 9 RBI). Brandon Turner, who is just now coming back from an injured hamstring, is hitting at a .278 clip (5-for-18). However, he was 2-for-6 against two of the best pitchers in the SEC during the recently completed SEC Tournament this past week, so it looks like he might have knocked the rust off. And Jet Butler is hitting a decent .265 (9-for-34).

In a slump is Joseph McCaskill .229 (8-for-35, 3 RBI), although he may be coming out of it because he is 5-for-14 in his last four games. Mark Goforth is hitting .111 (3-for-27) in the last 10 games. Russ Sneed is expected to start at third base in place of Connor Powers (4-for-32, 2 RBI, .125 BA). In limited action, Russ has hit .200 (2-for-10).

How Stetson and MSU Match Up
Stetson Category Mississippi State
41-19 Record 33-20
.302 Batting Average .316
378 (6.3 pg) Runs 376 (7.1 pg)
24 Home Runs 43
42/55 Stolen Bases/Attempts 39/58
209 (3.5 pg) Walks 186 (3.5 pg)
357 (6.0 pg) Strikeouts 352 (6.8 pg)
529 (8.8 pg) LOB 426 (8.0 pg)
3.65 Team ERA 4.90
17 Saves 14
194 (3.2 pg) Walks 145 (2.7 pg)
403 (6.7 pg) Strikeouts 440 (8.3 pg)
.255 Batting Average Against .298
.967 Fielding % .964
77 Errors 72

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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