April 6, 2012
Previewing Vanderbilt at Mississippi State
Vanderbilt Commodores (12-17, 3-6) at Mississippi State Bulldogs (18-11, 3-6)
When: Friday, 6:30 p.m. CST; Saturday, 2 p.m, CST; Sunday, 1:30 p.m. CST
Where: Dudy-Noble Field (15,000), Starkville, Miss.
Park dimensions: 330 to left, 376 to left-center, 390 to center, 374 to right-center, 326 to right
Park factor, 2008-11: 105
TV: Saturday's game is on CSS
Radio: Nashville: 560 AM
Rankings: Both teams are unranked
Warren Nolan RPI: Vanderbilt 63, MSU 36
Series record: MSU leads 53-36-2, but VU has won 12 of the last 13 meetings
|VANDERBILT STARTING LINEUP|
|MISSISSIPPI STATE STARTING LINEUP|
|MISSISSPPI STATE ROTATION|
About the BulldogsDespite MSU's 18-11 overall mark, it's been a tough luck season. The Bulldogs have suffered injuries to key players like Darryl Norris, Brent Brownlee, C.T. Bradford and Ben Bracewelll, and as a result have gone 1-2 in their last three Southeastern Conference series. It's not the start that coach John Cohen wanted after MSU surprised a lot of people and came within one game of going to the College World Series last year.
Two of those SEC losses have come by one run, and another, by two. Cohen summed up his feelings on the league slate so far earlier in the week to our Rivals partners at BulldogBlitz.com.
"If you just flip a coin and we win two of the many one-run games that we've played in during the short SEC season we've played in so far we'd be feeling a lot better about ourselves," Cohen said.
Norris, MSU's best hitter with a .375 mark, still isn't back, but Brownlee, Bradford, and Bracewell are. Reliever/outfielder Taylor Stark, who's been out with a hamstring injury, might also be healthy this weekend.
"I think Taylor could pitch this weekend maybe," Cohen said yesterday. "The question is on a ground ball to the right side or a bunt situation, can he get to the bag? Those are things that are important but we've got to believe he can do it. He threw a bullpen two days ago and Butch (Thompson) said it was one of the best bullpens he's ever thrown, the issue is just his mobility."
Not that the cast that Cohen has is all that bad, and going 3-6 against Top 25 squads LSU, Arkansas and Auburn is certainly not shame, either.
MSU's strength is its pitching; its staff has struck out 260 men in 262 1/3 innings so far.
Friday starter Chris Stratton has always been one of the league's top hurlers, and seems to be healthier than he was in past seasons when Cohen over-used him. The junior showed how good he could be when he struck out 17 LSU hitters in 8 2/3 innings just three weekends ago.
No. 2 starter Kendall Graveman gets the job done by relying on finesse and his defense. Opponents hit just .263 against him, and last year, he posted a 3.65 ERA in 56 2/3 innings.
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