MSU-Ole Miss Baseball Series Preview

Mississippi State and No. 5 Ole Miss tangle in a three-game Southeastern Conference series this weekend at Mississippi State.

Weather - Friday's temperatures should be in the high-60's range throughout the game with southwest winds in the 11 to 7 miles per hour range. There is a 50% chance of showers.

Saturday's temps will be in the 70 to 65 range during the game. Windy conditions are anticipated early in the game. The sky is expected to be partly cloudy to clear during the game.

Sunday should see temps in the high 60's at gametime and should stay there for most of the game. It will be mostly sunny. The northeast winds will be in the 8 miles per hour range.

Gametimes - Friday 3:00 p.m. | Saturday 6:00 p.m. | Sunday 1:36 p.m.

7-Year Series History - During the Bianco era at Ole Miss, MSU and Ole Miss are 16-16. But Ole Miss has had the advantage of late, winning 13 of the last 18 games.

Coaches - Mike Bianco, going into his 8th season at Ole Miss, has an overall record of 293-161-1, including a record of 117-93 in SEC play. Six of his seven teams have made appearances in NCAA Regionals, including three Super Regionals. His teams have an overall record of 13-12 in NCAA postseason play. None have made it to the College World Series.

During that same seven-year period, MSU head coach Ron Polk's teams (one year was with Georgia) are 282-162-2 overall and 104-100 in SEC play. Like Bianco, he has seen six of his seven teams make it to NCAA Regional play, including two that went on to play in Super Regionals. Both of those teams advanced to the College World Series.

Ole Miss Road/Mississippi State Home Records - Ole Miss is 1-2 on the road while MSU is 6-5 at home.

Expected Pitching Rotations - Mississippi State's starting pitchers will be 6-1, 191-pound freshman LHP Forrest Moore (1-1, 6.57 ERA) Friday night, 5-11, 186-pound senior LHP Justin Pigott (2-1, 3.29 ERA) on Saturday and 6-3, 197-pound sophomore RHP Ricky Bowen (1-2, 10.20 ERA) on Sunday.

Ole Miss will counter with 6-5, 260-pound junior RHP Lance Lynn (3-0, 1.69 ERA) on Friday, junior 6-4, 205-pound RHP Cody Satterwhite (2-0, 3.00 ERA) on Saturday and 6-3, 205-pound sophomore LHP Nathan Baker (1-1, 4.11 ERA) on Sunday.

Forrest Moore, who is projected by Baseball America as the 50th best pro prospect in the freshman class, will be making his third start this season. In his longest stint to date, Forrest threw 5 innings, giving up 2 runs (both earned) on 5 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 5. He gave up 7 earned runs in his other outing, which lasted 3.2 innings. Although he has struck out 16 in his 12.1 innings of work, control has been a slight problem, as evidenced by his 8 walks.

Justin Pigott has, for the most part, performed well this season. He has gone 5, 7 and 7 innings in his three starts. His last start has been his least effective, going 7 innings while giving up 5 runs (all earned) on 10 hits and 1 walk and striking out 7. In his first two starts, he struck out a total of 18 and walked 5 in 12 innings of work.

The hard-throwing Lance Lynn (low to mid-90's fastball), projected by Baseball America as the 19th best pro prospect in the junior class, has been extremely effective so far this season. In his three starts - 5, 6, 5 innings - he has given up just 3 earned runs (5 runs total). He is averaging almost 1.5 strikeouts per inning (25 in 16 innings) while walking just 5.

Cody Satterwhite, rated the 15th best prospect among all college juniors according to Baseball America, is adjusting to his new role as a starter after being Ole Miss' closer last season. And so far this season, he has been up and down with his effectiveness. In fact, in his last outing, which was against TCU on the road, he gave up 4 runs (all earned) on 5 hits and 1 walk, while striking out no one. Something to watch for is the fact that five ot the seven runs that he has given up have been in the third inning. Surprisedly, Satterwhite has only struck out 9 in 15 innings of work, this despite having electrifying velocity on his fastball (high 90's fastball that has hit 100).

Although he has been ok this season, Nathan Baker has been the weak link, if you want to call it that, among the three-man Ole Miss weekend rotation. He has thrown 5, 5, 5.1 innings in his three starts, giving up 0, 5 and 2 runs (all earned) on 16 hits and 9 walks while racking up 9 Ks.

Relief Pitching - Relief pitching has been a weakness of MSU's so far this season, thanks to control problems and injuries.

Hard-throwing Aaron Weatherford, expected to be State's closer this season, has been out with an injury for about two weeks and won't be available this weekend. Also out this weekend due to injury is Chad Crosswhite, a weekend starter earlier in the season, as well as sophomore lefty Tyler Whitney. Although Tyler may be available if necessary.

John Lalor has been moved to the closer position and has done well in that role, having given up just 1 run (earned) in 6.2 innings of work. He has struck out 11 while walking just 2.

Other relievers available include Greg Houston, Jesse Carver, Michael Busby, Jared Wesson and Drew Hollinghead.

Carver is expected to go if Moore has any problems Friday night. After allowing 2 runs (both earned) on 4 hits in 0.2 innings of work, Carver has performed well in his last two outings, giving up 1 run (earned) in 4 innings. He struck out 2 and walked no one in the four innings.

Houston has appeared in five games so far this season. In 9 innings, he has given up 7 runs (5 earned) on 13 hits and 3 walks while striking out 7.

Busby is a hard-throwing right-handed freshman. He has been up and down this season, down of late thanks to control problems. In his last two outings, he has walked 7 in 5.2 innings. During that span, he also struck out 5 and gave up 4 hits. Inconsistency has also been an issue with him, having given up 2, 0, 1, 0, 3 and 0 earned runs in his six relief appearances.

Wesson, who was being counted on to be the left-handed closer this season, has been bothered by serious control problems. In 2.1 innings, he has walked 9. In his last two outings alone, he walked 6 in 1 inning.

Hollinghead has appeared in three games and was very effective in two of the three. In those two games he threw 3 innings of no-run, no-hit ball. In his third outing he gave up 2 runs (both earned) on 2 hits and 1 walk in 1.1 inning. Teams are hitting just .125 against him.

While MSU's relief pitching has been suspect, Ole Miss' has been a strong point of their club.

Look for the Rebels to primarily use four relievers this weekend, all of whom have specific roles that they play.

Rory McKean has been used as the guy who comes in if a starter falters. And he's done a very good job in his role. He normally throws from 2 to 5 innings when he's brought in. In 19.2 innings, he has given up 6 runs (3 earned) on 14 hits and 5 walks while striking out 18.

Freshman LHP Drew Pomeranz has been used as a setup man, a starter once and even once as a closer. In his five outings this season, he's been very effective in 4 of the 5. And even in the one where he gave up the one run he's allowed this season, he struck out 8 in 3.1 innings. That appearance is the only one where he has walked anyone, walking 4. In 11.1 innings of work this season, he has struck out 19, given up 9 hits and walked 4 while allowing just the 1 run.

The last setup man on the staff is Scott Bittle. He has been extremely effective in that role, giving up 0 runs on 2 hits and 3 walks in 14 innings. He's struck out 28, which is two per inning. Teams are hitting a miniscule .045 against him.

As for the closer, Justin Cryer has been very effective as well. Maybe not as effective as Bittle, but effective enough. In 6 outings, he has thrown 6.1 innings, giving up just 1 unearned run on 3 hits and 6 walks while striking out 10. Teams are hitting .130 against him.

Hitting - Mississippi State is hitting .309 as a team. The top base-stealer in the SEC is junior outfielder Grant Hogue, who has stolen 12 of 12 this season in limited action.

Ole Miss is hitting .324 as a team.

Who's Hot at the Plate and Who's Not in the Last 5 Games - While on the surface the .324 team batting average looks good, lately the Rebels have been in a hitting slump, at least most of them have. Three players are hitting over .333 while six others aren't hitting above .200.

Leading the Rebels in hitting during those games is Cody Overbeck, who is red hot at the plate. Cody is hitting .476 (10-of-21, 4 RBI). Others hitting well include Michael Guerrero at .368 (7-of-19, 3 RBI) and Brett Basham at .333 (5-of-15, 4 RBI).

On the other end of the spectrum are Matt Smith who is hitting .059 (1-of-17), Zach Smith at .083 (1-of-12), Fuller Smith at .125 (1-of-8), Michael Hubbard at .133 (2-of-15), Evan Button at .143 (1-of-7) and Jordan Henry at .174 (4-of-23). Logan Power is just above the .200 mark with a .222 batting average (4-of-13).

Because of the slump, runs have been hard to come by with Ole Miss scoring just 23 runs in the five games. And 10 of the 23 were scored in one game. Three of the games were on the road at TCU.

State's hitting has been quite a bite better than that, almost doubling the runs scored by Ole Miss with 44 in the last 5 games. Plus, State has played the then 11th ranked Baylor in three of those game, scoring 18 runs against the Bears' pitching.

So, who is hot? Grant Hogue comes in at .400 (6-of-15, 7 stolen bases in the 4 games he played in) followed by Ryan Collins with a .375 batting average (3-of-8). Ryan is very doubtful at this time and may not play this weekend. Others hitting over .300 are Andy Rice and Cody Freeman, both at .357 (both are 5-of-14, although Freeman has 7 RBI to Rice's 2).

Unlike Ole Miss, State has several players batting in the mid to upper .200 range, including Jason Nappi at .294 (5-of-17, 4 RBI), Mark Goforth at .286 in limited action (2-for-7), Russ Sneed at .263 (5-of-19, 4 RBI) and Tyler Moore and Jet Butler at .250 (both are 4-of-16 and both have driven in 5 runs). The only hitter under .200 during the five games is Connor Powers who comes in at .167 (3-of-18, 2 RBI).

How Ole Miss and MSU Match Up
Ole Miss Category Mississippi State
11-4 Record 7-7
.324 Batting Average .309
133 (8.9 pg) Runs 110 (7.9 pg)
19 Home Runs 11
.501 Slugging % .443
19/22 Stolen Bases/Attempts 20/23
70 (4.7 pg) Walks 87 (6.2 pg)
88 (5.9 pg) Strikeouts 102 (7.3 pg)
139 (9.3 pg) LOB 128 (9.1 pg)
2.85 Team ERA 6.02
3 Saves 3
50 (3.3 pg) Walks 69 (4.9 pg)
151 (10.1 pg) Strikeouts 130 (9.3 pg)
.235 Batting Average Against .282
.970 Fielding % .973
17 Errors 14

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the 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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