South Carolina - MSU Baseball Series Preview

Mississippi State and 17th ranked South Carolina tangle in a three-game Southeastern Conference series this weekend at Mississippi State.

Weather - There is an 80% chance of rain for Friday's game with temperatures in the high 40s. Saturday the rain should start tailing off beginning around noon. The chance of rain decreases to 10% mid-afternoon. Game temperatures should be in the high 50s. There is a 40% chance of showers Sunday with highs in the mid-60s.

Gametimes - Friday 6:30 p.m. | Saturday 2:00 p.m. | Sunday 1:30 p.m.

5-Year Series History - South Carolina has won 7 of 10 games against the Bulldogs during the past five years, including 2 of 3 against State at Dudy Noble Field.

Coaches - John Cohen's teams are 7-9 against South Carolina (all at Kentucky) while Ray Tanner's South Carolina teams are 19-18 against Mississippi State.

Ray Tanner is going into his 13th season at South Carolina and has a record of 540-243, including an SEC record of 209-149. Two of his teams have won the SEC overall championship. Ten of his twelve teams have appeared in NCAA Regionals with seven advancing to Super Regionals and 3 of those 7 advancing to the College World Series. His 2002 team was national runner-up in the College World Series. His teams have an NCAA postseason record of 47-24.

During his five years as the head coach at Kentucky, John Cohen's teams were 175-112 overall and 63-85 in SEC play. His teams won one SEC Championship during that period. Two of his five teams have appeared in NCAA Regional play. Neither team advanced to Super Regionals. His teams overall record in NCAA postseason play at Kentucky was 4-4.

South Carolina Road/Mississippi State Home Records - South Carolina is 1-0 on the road while MSU is 9-1 at home.

Expected Pitching Rotations - South Carolina is expected to start sophomore RHP Sam Dyson (2-0, 0.49 ERA) on Friday. Saturday and Sunday starters are yet to be named.

Dyson, who is 10-0 during his South Carolina career, has given up just 2 runs (1 earned) on 6 hits and 5 walks while striking out 17 in 18.1 innings. Teams are hitting .102 against him. He completed dominated No. 21st ranked Clemson, allowing just 1 run on 2 hits in 6.1 innings.

Just looking at the early season stats, you have to believe freshman LHP Adam Westmoreland may wind up being in the mix as a starter this weekend. Although the teams he has faced aren't SEC caliber teams (Duquesne, Georgia State, Old Dominion), he has shown solid stats against them - throwing 13.0 innings, while allowing 3 (earned) runs on 7 hits and 7 walks while striking out 15. Of the three appearances, 1 was a start and the other 2 were in long relief.

Blake Cooper, a junior RHP, has had some success against Mississippi State in the past and due to that could also be in the mix for starting duties this weekend. In 10.2 innings this year he has allowed 6 (earned) runs on 11 hits and 2 walks while striking out 13. However 6 of those innings were thrown against Duquesne, a team that is 0-12 and hitting .208 as a team. And in his last start, he was roughed up by Long Beach State to the tune of 6 (earned) runs on 8 hits and a walk in 1.2 innings. In between those two outings was a very good 3 inning performance against Georgia State in which he gave up 0 runs on 1 hit and 1 walk to go along with 5 Ks.

Others in the mix could be freshman LHP Nolan Belcher and possibly sophomore LHP Will Casey both of whom have had mixed results so far this season.

Mississippi State is expected to start junior LHP Tyler Whitney (1-0, 0.82 ERA) on Friday and freshman LHP Nick Routt (2-0, 1.42 ERA) on Saturday. No Sunday starter has been announced, although it's likely to be either senior RHP Chad Crosswhite (0-1, 3 S, 4.09 ERA) or sophomore LHP Forrest Moore (2-0, 2.77).

Whitney, who throws in the mid-80s, has performed well as a starter so far this season, throwing 4.2 and 6.1 innings in his two starts. Although he has allowed 6 runs, only 1 has been earned. In his 11 innings of work, he has only given up 7 hits while walking 3 and striking out 10. Teams are only hitting .175 against him.

Routt, who also throws in the mid-80s, has really done well his rookie season. In his three starts he has thrown 8, 6 and 5 innings, allowing 8 runs (3 earned) on 16 hits and 5 walks while striking out 17. Teams are hitting .225 against him. He has not allowed an extra base hit in his 19 innings.

Crosswhite, who throws in the mid to high 80s, has been used almost exclusively as a reliever this year with the exception of 1 start. In the start he gave up 7 runs (5 earned) in 2 innings of work. However, he has excelled in his relief role, throwing 9 innings in 4 appearances and earning 3 saves. He gave up 0 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 9 in his 9 innings of relief work.

Moore, who has a mid to sometimes upper 80s fastball and an outstanding curveball, has performed fairly well in his two starts, giving up 4 runs (all earned) on 12 hits and 3 walks while striking out 10 in 10 innings. He has also pitched in relief one game, giving up no runs on 1 hit and 1 walk with 5 Ks in 3 innings.

Relief Pitching - South Carolina will probably use several pitchers, including senior LHP Alex Farotto, freshman RHP Matt Price, sophomore RHP Parker Bangs and senior RHP Curtis Johnson.

Farotto is South Carolina's closer and possibly one of the best in the SEC. In 8.1 innings he has given up exactly 0 runs on 0 hits while walking 3 and striking out 11. He has 1 win and 3 saves to his credit in his 4 outings.

Price has been used in a long relief/setup type role. In 6.2 innings he has allowed 1 (earned) run on 5 hits and 4 walks to go along with 5 Ks. Teams are hitting .238 against him.

Bangs has appeared in three games, allowing 3 runs (1 earned) on 7 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7 in his 6 innings of work. I look for him to be used in long relief.

Johnson is more of a setup type reliever. He has been very effective in three of his four relief outings, throwing 7 innings, while allowing 3 runs (all earned) on 4 hits and 2 walks. He has also struck out 10.

Expect Mississippi State to also use several pitchers in relief this weekend, including Chad Crosswhite, Forrest Moore, freshman RHP Devin Jones, junior Greg Houston and possibly senior RHP Lee Swindle, senior LHP Jared Wesson and sophomore RHP Michael Busby.

I previously commented on Crosswhite and Moore, although I will add in the fact that Crosswhite has been used exclusively in a closer's role as a reliever. Moore would be more of a long reliever type.

Houston, who throws in the upper 80s, has been just behind Crosswhite in his effectiveness as a reliever, allowing 0 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks while striking out 4 in 9 innings. Teams are hitting a paltry .111 against him. As for his role in the bullpen, he has been used in all three roles as a reliever - closer, long relief and setup man.

Although he hasn't pitched much this year, Jones, who has an upper 80s fastball, has been very effective each time he has gone out to the mound. In his 2 appearances - 1 start, 1 relief - he has thrown 7.1 innings, giving up 1 run (earned) on 3 hits, 3 walks while striking out 4. In his relief role he threw 3.1 innings, giving up no runs on 1 hit and 1 walk while striking out 1. He will probably be used in a long relief or setup role.

Swindle, who throws a mid-80s fastball, came on strong in his last relief role, giving up no runs on 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7 in 4 innings. However, prior to that appearance, he had appeared in 3 games as a reliever, giving up 9 runs (7 earned) on 8 hits and 3 walks while striking out 4 in 4.2 innings. His role will be more as a long reliever or setup man.

Wesson, a lefty with upper 80s velocity who has battled injuries most of his MSU career, has appeared in just 1 game this season, but what a game it was. In his 1 inning of work, he allowed no runs on 1 hit and 0 walks while striking out 3. It's possible the MSU coaching staff might use him in a game that is one-sided to see if he can continue his dominance over hitters.

Busby, who throws in the mid-80s sometimes and other times in the upper 80s and low-90s, has given up 6 runs (5 earned) on 10 hits and 5 walks while striking out 8 in 8.2 innings in 3 relief appearances. His most effective outing was his last when he gave up no runs on 1 hit and 2 walks with 1 strikeout in 1.2 innings of work.

Hitting - South Carolina, batting .306 as a team, has five hitters batting over .300 including Justin Dalles .424 (14-for-33), Nick Ebert .409 (9-for-22), DeAngelo Mack .378 (17-for-45), Whit Merrifield .311 (14-for-45), and Jackie Bradley .304 (14-for-46). Mack leads the team in home runs with 7 and RBI with 17.

MSU, hitting .282 as a team, has five hitters batting over .300 who have batted 15 or more times - Jet Butler .447 (17-for-38), Scott DeLoach .385 (10-for-26), Jason Nappi .333 (5-for-15), Connor Powers .327 (16-for-49), Russ Sneed .325 (13-for-40). Powers leads the team in home runs with 3 and RBI with 17.

Who's Hot at the Plate and Who's Not in the Last 5 Games - South Carolina has 5 players hitting .300 or better in the last five games - Justin Dalles .429 (6-for-14 with 7 RBI), DeAngelo Mack .421 (8-for-19, 7 RBI), Jackie Bradley .333 (5-for-15, 0 RBI), Whit Merrifield .318 (7-for-22, 4 RBI) and Nick Ebert at .300 (3-for-10, 9 RBI).

Other Gamecock batting averages - Adam Crisp .250 (5-for-20, 3 RBI), Jeffrey Jones .231 (3-for-13, 4 RBI), Parker Bangs .222 (2-for-9, 1 RBI), Scott Wingo .200 (2-for-10, 1 RBI), and Bobby Haney at .190 (4-for-21, 2 RBI).

For Mississippi State, four players are hitting the ball well in the last five games including Jason Nappi (in limited action) who is hitting at a .571 clip (4-for-7, 1 RBI), Jet Butler at .500 (8-for-16, 5 RBI), Scott Deloach at .500 (4-for-8, 0 RBI), and Luke Adkins who is hitting .389 (7-for-18, 7 RBI). Three other players are hitting .286 - Ryan Collins (4-for-14, 2 RBI), Jarrod Parks (2-for-7, 0 RBI) and Brent Brownlee (2-for-7, 2 RBI).

Other Bulldog hitters - Connor Powers is batting .235 (4-for-17, 3 RBI), Ryan Duffy at .200 (3-for-15, 4 RBI), Russ Sneed at .167 (2-for-12, 0 RBI), Ryan Powers who is hitting .118 (2-for-17, 1 RBI), Grant Hogue at .111 (1-for-9, 0 RBI) and Cody Freeman who is hitting .100 (1-for-10, 1 RBI).

How South Carolina and MSU Match Up
South Carolina Category Mississippi State
10-2 Record 10-4
.306 Batting Average .282
94 (7.8 pg) Runs 90 (6.4 pg)
26 Home Runs 10
.406 OB % .392
13-17 Stolen Bases-Attempts 19-24
63 (5.3 pg) Walks 57 (4.1 pg)
76 (6.3 pg) Strikeouts 99 (7.1 pg)
99 (8.3 pg) LOB 108 (9.0 pg)
4.08 Team ERA 3.86
3 Saves 5
47 (3.9 pg) Walks 57 (4.1 pg)
110 (9.2 pg) Strikeouts 113 (8.1 pg)
.214 Batting Average Against .243
.972 Fielding % .967

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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