LSU - MSU Baseball Series Preview

Mississippi State (20-29, 7-17 SEC-6th in the West) and LSU (32-16-1, 12-11-1 SEC-1st in the West) tangle in a three-game Southeastern Conference series this weekend at LSU.

Weather - Friday night, look for temperatures to be in the mid-80's at gametime, going down to the low-80's by the end of the game. There is only a 10% chance of showers. Winds will range from 11 to 13 mph.

Saturday will see highs in the low-90's throughout the game. Skies will be partly cloudy. Winds should be in the 11 to 12 mph range and come from the south/southwest.

Sunday should see temperatures in the mid-80's for most of the game. Skies will be cloudy with a 40% chance of scattered thunderstorms.

Gametimes - Friday 7:00 p.m. | Saturday 3:00 p.m. TV-FSN) | Sunday 1:00 p.m.

1-Year Series History Since Paul Mainieri Has Been At LSU - LSU won 2 of 3 games last season against the Bulldogs.

Coaches - In his first season at LSU, Paul Mainieri was 29-26-1 overall and 12-17 in SEC play. His team did not appear in the NCAA Regionals.

Ron Polk, on the other hand, saw his team go 38-22 overall and 15-13 in SEC play. They advanced to the College World Series, going 5-0 in regional and super regional play and 0-2 in the CWS.

Mississippi State Road/LSU Home Records - MSU is 5-14 on the road while LSU is 24-8-1 at home.

Expected Pitching Rotations - Expected to start for the Tigers are junior LHP Ryan Verdugo (7-2, 2.86) Friday and junior LHP Blake Martin (3-3, 5.05) Saturday. Jordan Brown, who normally starts, will be used in relief this weekend. His place will probably be taken by either Jared Bradford, Daniel Bradshaw or Paul Bertuccini.

State will counter with junior RHP Chad Crosswhite (2-4, 9.33 ERA) Friday, sophomore RHP Ricky Bowen (3-5, 6.79 ERA) Saturday and senior LHP Justin Pigott (2-2, 4.42 ERA) Sunday.

Verdugo has been the most effective starter of late for the Tigers. Although he has a solid ERA of 3.40 in his 6 SEC starts (35.0 IP, 31 H, 12 BB, 22 K), in his last three starts he has allowed just 6 runs (5 earned) on 13 hits and 7 walks with 13 Ks in 23.0 innings for an ERA of 1.96. In those starts he has thrown no less than 6 innings and has had a complete game.

Martin has been pretty consistent throughout his SEC starts, allowing 5.87 earned runs per game. He has pitched a little better in home games, giving up 5.04 earned runs per game. He normally gives the Tigers 5 to 6 decent innings.

Bradford, in his three SEC starts, gave up 15 earned runs in 20.1 innings for an SEC ERA of 6.64.

Bradshaw and Bertuccini haven't started a game in SEC play this season.

The Bulldogs' Crosswhite, who battled a hamstring pull early in the season, has pitched in 5 SEC games, giving up 30 runs (22 earned) on 39 hits and 12 walks with 8 Ks in 25.1 innings for an ERA of 7.82. In his starts, he has thrown 5.1, 5.0, 4.0 7.0 and 4.0 innings.

Bowen's best outing was his first when he had a no-hitter after 8.2 innings against Ole Miss. He ultimately allowed 2 hits, but still recorded a shutout. Since then, he has been roughed up until last weekend. Not including last weekend and his Ole Miss start, he has given up an average of 8.07 earned runs per game. But in his last outing, he threw 6.0 innings, giving up just 2 runs (1 earned) on 5 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 5. The key for him in his two good outings were the lack of walks.

Pigott, who was injured for about half the SEC season, has started three games since coming back from the injury. In those three starts he has thrown 17.0 innings, giving up 10 runs (8 earned) on 17 hits and 4 walks with 8 strikeouts. His ERA in those three SEC starts is 4.24. He should give the Bulldogs 5 to 6 good innings.

Relief Pitching - LSU looks to use seven guys in relief during SEC weekends - senior RHP Jared Bradford, freshman RHP Daniel Bradshaw, sophomore RHP Paul Bertuccini, sophomore LHP Shane Ardoin, junior RHP Nolan Cain and junior RHP Louis Coleman. Starter Jordan Brown, who has been a weekend starter, will also be used in the bullpen this weekend.

Bradford, who alternated between closer and starting pitcher during early SEC action, has settled in as LSU's closer and has done well in that role. Although his overall relief ERA in the SEC is 3.91, in his last six SEC relief appearances he has thrown 17.0 innings, giving up just 3 runs (2 earned) on 15 hits and 3 walks with 11 strikeouts for an ERA of 1.06.

Bradshaw appears to be a setup guy. In 9 games he has thrown 17.2 innings, giving up 14 runs (12 earned) on 18 hits and 6 walks while striking out 14. His most effective outing was his last when he allowed 1 hit, no walks while striking out 4 in 3.1 innings of work. But his norm is to allow a run or two in 1 to 2 innings.

Bertuccini has pitched extremely well in his 8 SEC relief appearances, throwing 9.1 innings while giving up a single run on 5 hits and 3 walks with 11 Ks. His SEC ERA is 0.96.

Cain is an early setup guy. If a starting pitcher gets in early trouble he usually receives the call. In 6 outings, he's given up 4 runs (3 earned) on 4 hits and 7 walks with 3 Ks in 7.2 innings for a 3.52 ERA.

A guy who appears to be used in a one or two-out situation is Ardoin. In five of his seven outings, he's been called upon to get 1 or 2 outs. And he's done well in that role up until his last two efforts. In those two outings, he gave up 3 runs (all earned) in a combined 1 inning of work. Prior to that, he had thrown 3 innings without giving up a run.

In limited use, Coleman has performed well. In his four relief appearances he has thrown 8 innings, giving up 3 runs (1 earned) on 8 hits, 2 walks and 9 Ks for an ERA of 1.13.

Brown started the season as a reliever in SEC play but was moved to a starting role halfway into the SEC season. Now in the bullpen for this series, I'll take a look at his relief efforts. In his three SEC relief appearances he threw 8.2 innings, giving up 6 earned runs for an SEC ERA of 6.23.

Although Mississippi State uses several relievers in SEC action, the two that have been the most effective are senior John Lalor and junior Aaron Weatherford.

Lalor is MSU's long reliever and setup man. In 10 SEC appearances, 1 of which was a start, he have given up 11 runs (10 earned) on 19 hits and 6 walks with 22 Ks in 20.1 innings. But he has been his most effective of late. In his last 5 outings, he has only given up 1 run in 8.2 innings, which is a 1.04 ERA.

Weatherford, who missed a month of the season due to an injury, has been totally dominating in all of his appearances SEC and non-SEC. In his 7 SEC relief efforts he has thrown 12.2 innings, given up 4 hits and 3 walks and sat down 23 hitters with strikeouts. He has given up 1 unearned run during those 12.2 innings.

Other pitchers that could be used are freshmen Michael Busby (RHP) and Forrest Moore (LHP), junior RHP Lee Swindle and senior LHPs Jesse Carver and Andy Wilson. All have been fairly ineffective in SEC action.

Hitting (Last 5 Games) - During the last five games, LSU is hitting .279 and averaging 7.0 runs per game while MSU comes in at a .229 clip and is averaging 3.8 runs per game.

Who's Hot at the Plate and Who's Not in the Last 5 Games - LSU has four players, one a part-timer, who are hitting the ball well. Leading the Tigers is junior Matt Clark who comes in at .538 (7-for-13, 3 RBI). In part-time duty, sophomore Sean Ochinko is hitting .400 (4-for-10, 2 RBI). Also doing well are senior Michael Hollander at .350 (7-for-20, 4 RBI) and junior Derek Helenihi at .333 (7-for-21, 6 RBI).

Players hitting under .300 include sophomores Jared Mitchell and Ryan Schimpf both at .267 (4-for-15), freshman D. J. LeMahieu at .238 (5-for-21, 5 RBI), and sophomore Blake Dean at .227 (5-for-22, 4 RBI). In limited action, junior Chris McGhee is hitting .286 (2-for-7, 1 RBI).

Bringing up the rear are two freshmen - Micah Gibbs who is hitting .167 (3-for-13, 2 RBI) and Leon Landry who comes in at .071 (1-for-14).

MSU's batters aren't faring as well as the Tiger hitters with just one full-time player hitting over .300, junior Tyler Moore who comes in at .313 (5-for-16, 4 RBI). Two of his five hits have been home runs. Junior Jeff Flagg, in limited action, is hitting at a .400 clip (2-for-5).

Junior Mark Goforth comes in at .286 (4-for-14, 1 RBI) followed by sophomore Russ Sneed at .250 (5-for-20, 1 RBI), true freshman Ryan Powers at .231 (3-for-13, 1 RBI) and sophomore Jet Butler at .222 (4-for-18, 1 RBI).

Others are sophomore Ryan Duffy at .200 (3-for-15, 1 RBI), junior Grant Hogue is hitting at a .190 clip (4-for-21, 1 RBI), redshirt freshman Jason Nappi comes in at .188 (3-for-16, 1 RBI), followed by true freshman Cody Freeman at .100 (1-for-10).

How LSU and MSU Match Up
LSU Category Mississippi State
32-16-1 Record 20-29
.294 (8th-SEC) Batting Average .289 (11th-SEC)
342 (7.0 pg) Runs 309 (6.3 pg)
61 Home Runs 47
.366 OB % .383
70-87 Stolen Bases-Attempts 42-56
168 (3.4 pg) Walks 232 (4.7 pg)
322 (6.6 pg) Strikeouts 383 (7.8 pg)
359 (7.3 pg) LOB 427 (8.7 pg)
3.88 (3rd-SEC) Team ERA 6.68 (12th-SEC)
11 Saves 7
142 (2.9 pg) Walks 238 (4.9 pg)
382 (7.8 pg) Strikeouts 379 (7.7 pg)
.260 Batting Average Against .300
.971 (4th-SEC) Fielding % .965 (9th-SEC)
55 Errors 66

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

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