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



Bt.PlayerAvg.HRRBIOB%SL% Pos. Bt.PlayerAvg.HRRBIOB%SL%
RSpencer Navin.33319.417.452 C RMitch Slauter.272111.400.348
LConrad Gregor.291020.381.373 1B RWes Rea.294220.285.451
RAnthony Gomez.330024.403.366 2B RMatthew Britton.12902.273.129
RVince Conde.213213.280.337 3B LSam Frost.31007.381.302
RJoel McKeithan.25002.375.300 SS LAdam Frazier.357013.460.452
LTony Kemp.289121.391.439 LF RTyler Fullerton.28603.375.371
RConnor Harrell.212210.358.341 CF LC.T. Bradford.282114.373.338
RMike Yastrzemski.317319.444.446 RF RHunter Renfroe.287214.360.426
RJack Lupo.32406.343.324 DH LTrey Potter.311418.432.478

LKevin Ziomek4.702-438.11440 Fri. RChris Stratton2.276-043.21361
RTyler Beede5.461-329.2733 Sat. RKendall Graveman3.052-141.11220
-TBA----- Sun. -TBA-----

About the Bulldogs

Despite 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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