This is one of two regionals featuring two teams from the same conference. Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton out of the Big West Conference will face-off this weekend as well.
This 3-game series begins on Saturday, June 10 at 9 p.m. ET and will televised on ESPN 2. Game two will be played on Sunday, June 11 at 9 p.m. ET. If necessary, a third game will be played on Monday, June 12 at a time to be determined.
How They Got Here:
Mississippi State (40-25, 17-13) – The Bulldogs started out the season looking really mediocre, and then started out SEC play by getting swept. However, they won 14 of their next 17 games in conference play. But then they slumped again losing their last five conference games and entering the SEC Tournament as the fifth seed. They won the first two games in the tournament, but then blew a 3-0 lead over Florida by giving up 11 runs in the eighth inning. Then they were bounced by Arkansas 9-2.
Instead of hosting, they were named the number two seed in the Hattiesburg regional where they lost their first game to South Alabama 6-3. They narrowly escaped against Illinois-Chicago in their next game winning 5-4. They beat South Alabama in the rematch 7-3 to earn a spot in the regional finals. They dominated Southern Miss in the first game 8-1. They erased a 5-1 deficit in game seven and scored four runs in the final three frames to win 8-6 and advance to the super regionals.
LSU (46-17, 21-9) – LSU hit a couple of lulls during the season that made you think maybe they aren’t contenders, but the Tigers finished the regular season strong with a record of 39-17, 21-9. They made the SEC Tournament look like a piece of cake winning four games by a combined score of 35-5.
They continued that momentum into the regionals as they blasted Texas Southern in their first game 15-7 and then Southeastern Louisiana 11-6 in their second game. They were on cruise control against Rice in the regional final as they won 5-0.
We actually saw this matchup three weekends ago, except it was in Starkville, Miss., and LSU still swept Mississippi State. I hate to be very boring in this preview, but it’s hard to imagine this series going any different.
LSU outscored Mississippi State in that series 25-13, scoring 11 runs in two different games. In fact, LSU has scored 10 runs or more in seven of their last nine games, while carrying a 14-game winning streak into this super regional.
What’s scary to me is that Alex Lange and Jared Poche didn’t even pitch well in the regional and they still won. I doubt both of those pitchers are going to have back-to-back subpar outings.
So what can Mississippi State do to win this series? Hope that Brent Rooker continues to play unconscious.
Everyone was saying that the SEC Player of the Year was in a slump, but he finished the Hattiesburg regional with a pair of home runs and 5 RBI. On the year he’s hitting .395 with 57 runs, 23 home runs and 82 RBI.
Ryan Gridley has also been good for the Bulldogs lately as he’s hitting .331 on the year. Jake Mangum leads the team with 51 runs scored to go along with a .327 average. Cody Brown was excellent in the regionals going 10-19 with a pair of 3-run home runs, including a huge one in game seven against Southern Miss.
The Bulldogs have to hope they can turn this series into a slugfest.
The Mississippi State pitching staff has one of the worst ERAs in the SEC, but that’s a bit deceiving. Konnor Pilkington has a very good arm with a 3.26 ERA in 102 innings pitched with 107 strikeouts.
Spencer Price and Riley Self are pretty much shutdown out of the bullpen. Price has a 2.41 ERA in 33.2 innings pitched with 40 strikeouts, while Self has a 3.59 ERA in 47.2 innings pitched with 60 strikeouts.
Past Pilkington though, the starting pitching for Mississippi State is a bit questionable.
That’s not the case for LSU who boasts one of the best starting pitching staffs in the country with the aforementioned Lange and Poche. Lange has a 2.87 ERA in 103.1 innings pitched with 124 strikeouts. In my opinion, he’s the best starting pitcher in the country.
Poche isn’t far behind with a 3.13 ERA in 95 innings with 63 strikeouts. Behind those two is Eric Walker who threw eight shutout innings against Rice in the regional. He has a 3.46 ERA on the season with 78 strikeouts in 93.2 innings pitched.
Zak Hess has been one of the most reliable arms out of the bullpen for LSU lately. He has a 2.92 ERA on the year with 71 strikeouts in 52.1 innings pitched. Hunter Newman is the team’s closer with 10 saves and a 1.11 ERA in 24.1 innings pitched and 25 strikeouts.
The Tigers are loaded offensively with Kramer Robertson (.317), Cole Freeman (.333), Antoine Duplantis (.319) and Greg Deichmann (.322) at the top of the lineup.
Freeman leads the team with 50 runs scored and 18 stolen bases (tied with Duplantis). Deichmann leads the team with 19 home runs and 69 RBI.
I hate to be doom-and-gloom for Mississippi State, but they seriously have to hope that the LSU bats just go silent this weekend, while the Bulldogs offense erupts.
Mississippi State head coach Andy Cannizaro has done a tremendous job in his first year with Mississippi State. Nobody thought the Bulldogs would make it this far, and now he has the chance to knock his former team out of the postseason and go to Omaha.
There isn’t much love from the LSU coaching staff as Cannizaro’s leaving for Mississippi State late last year was not viewed well from the Tigers’ point-of-view.
I expect this to be a very intense regional. With these games scheduled to be played at night, Alex Box stadium is going to be as electric as ever.
I would be utterly shocked if LSU didn’t win this series and advance to Omaha.