Saturday Pre-Game Notebook

With the Saturday winner's bracket showdown between Mississippi State and Florida State starting at 7:00 (et), it will be closing in on midnight when the game story is published. With this schedule, today's edition of the Regional Notebook is being filed prior to the game.

*At 5:10 Mississippi State turned in the starting lineup, which changed considerably from Friday. Two defensive positions and the designated hitter were different from the lineup for Stetson, and four slots in the batting order were altered.

Saturday's order/lineup was: CF Jeffrey Rea, 2B Brandon Turner, C Edward Easley, RF Mitch Moreland, 1B Brian LaNinfa, LF Joseph McCaskill, DH Wyn Diggs, SS Jet Butler, and 3B Russ Sneed, with LH Justin Pigott pitching.

This is Diggs' first start of 2007. He started seven games in 2006, five at catcher and two at DH.

This lineup puts five full-time lefthanders and one switch-hitter (Butler) at the plate against Florida State starting righthander Bryan Henry.

Florida State is starting only two true left-side hitters, in the fourth and sixth slots, with a switch-hitter batting seventh.

*C Edward Easley and 1B/RF Mitch Moreland are the only Bulldogs to have started every game this season.

*The obvious individual note is senior Jeffrey Rea's attempt to become the all-time hits leader for Mississippi State. Rea has 328 safeties for his career, tied for the MSU record (and third all-time in the SEC).

Rea also has a ten-game hitting streak going now, the second-longest of this season. In these games Rea is 16-of-40 for a .400 average. State's leadoff batter has only driven in three runs but has scored eight himself in this stretch.

*It's not a streak per se, but Mitch Moreland has been able to hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games and 19 of the last 21. Only once this season (March 25 and 27) has Moreland been shut out at the plate in consecutive games.

Moreland has also raised his slugging rate here at tournament time. He had doubles in each of his SEC Tournament games, and slapped a solo homer against Stetson. Moreland didn't play in the 2006 SEC tourney but had a big post-season at the Clemson Regional, going 7-of-15 with three doubles to make the all-tourney team.

"Everybody gets more focused this time of year, and I tend to get more ready for these games," Moreland said. "I don't know why but I always have." He had a 2-RBI game when State beat Florida Atlantic in the 2005 Miami Regional.

*Going into Saturday evening's game Moreland is in a groove at the plate, but how rusty is that left arm? He threw only twice in the entire month of May, pitching a single inning on the 9th and the 19th. He has 18 total innings for the season and the second-best ERA on the staff at 3.50.

*One reason why Moreland hasn't been as needed lately is a good one though. Ricky Bowen has established himself as a reliable reliever. In his last seven appearances (9.0 combined innings) the true freshman has allowed only one run and five hits, with 11 strikeouts. The rookie has the most total appearances, 24, of any Bulldog pitcher this season.

*It's been quite a second-season for Chad Crosswhite. As a redshirt freshman he showed promise despite 2006 numbers such as a 0-3 record and 4.65 ERA, primarily out of the bullpen though he did get starts at Memphis and Kentucky. As a soph Crosswhite has more than lived up to the promising signs, with a 8-4 record in 20 appearances.

Nine of these have been starts, and all but one of those to open series with the lone exception last week when Mississippi State mixed-and-matched for the SEC Tournament. Though a fast worker Crosswhite has been durable and usually given the staff 12-to-18 outs. This despite a .318 batting average-against that means Crosswhite is almost always working with men on bases.

Here, though, his previous experience has prepared Crosswhite to deal with trouble. "I've had threats my entire career," he explained, "when I'd come in as a middle-reliever in tough situations. They don't really bother me."

*Florida State is not just the host for the winner's bracket game but the home team as well, by virtue of their higher seeding.

After this game, among the surviving three teams (with Bethune-Cookman eliminated) the home designation will go to the team that has been ‘home' fewest times; and if they are equal there, then to the team that has been visitor more often. In case of a rematch the previous visitor will be home team. Then, the team that was visitor in the immediately-preceding game; and finally by coin toss.

*Dick Howser Stadium is, like most campus venues across the country, a no-smoking facility. This did not prevent Coach Ron Polk from arriving at the park and going into the dugout with standard cigar between the teeth.

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