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SEC Play Begins With Battle of the Bulldogs

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Ben Bracewell will start Friday.
Photo Courtesy of Bill Simmonds

STARKVILLE, Miss. – In its first competition in Southeastern Conference play, the No. 19 Mississippi State baseball team travels to Athens for a three-game series against a Georgia squad which is riding a season-high 10-game winning streak. The series opener at Foley Field is 6 p.m. CT Friday, with Saturday’s 11 a.m. CT first pitch being televised on FSN and ESPN3. Sunday’s series finale is slated for 12 p.m. CT.

Cohen’s Quote

“Georgia is a really talented club. Every Division I team in the state of Georgia is certainly good. When you have a new coach, there is new energy and new ideas. They are really good. They have won 10 games in a row and scored a bunch of runs in the midweek (vs. Western Kentucky). It is almost impossible to represent the state of Georgia and not have a great team because there are so many great players in the state.”

Alumni Fan Gathering In Left Field

The MSU Alumni Association Atlanta Chapter will be hosting “Extreme Left Field Lounge” this Saturday at Foley Field. A tent will be set up postgame with free hamburgers and hot dogs.

Live Video and Television

Saturday’s game only will be on FSN and ESPN3. Dave Baker and Rusty Ensor will have the call. Friday and Sunday’s games will be streamed at GeorgiaDogs.com.

Audio and Radio

All three games in the series will air live on the MSU Baseball Radio Network. Fans can also listen via live streaming audio at HailStateTV.com.

Live Stats

Live stats are available all weekend at GeorgiaDogs.com.

Tickets and Promotions

Tickets are still available and can be purchased at GeorgiaDogs.com/tickets.

Probable Starters

Friday – RSr. RHP Ben Bracewell (2-1, 1.74 ERA) vs. So. LHP Ryan Lawlor (1-1, 6.61 ERA)

Saturday – Jr. RHP Trevor Fitts (2-0, 3.92 ERA) vs. Fr. RHP Robert Tyler (0.93 ERA)

Sunday – TBA vs. Sr. LHP Patrick Boling (2-1, 2.57 ERA)

Social Media

Fans can follow the program in the Peach State on and off the field on social media by searching for “HailStateBB” on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. All-Access coverage of the program can also be found on FanCred.

Rankings

Mississippi State – 19th in the USA Today Sports’ Coaches Poll, 20th in the NCBWA and Perfect Game, 23rd in Collegiate Baseball and 24th in Baseball America

Georgia – Unranked

Weather

Friday’s Forecast (March 14) - High 65, Low 43 - Sunny (0%)

Saturday’s Forecast (March 15) - High 65, Low 49 - Cloudy (10%)

Sunday’s Forecast (March 16) - High 58, Low 41 - Rain (70%)

Battle of the Bulldogs

·         Mississippi State and Georgia are meeting for the first time since 2011.

·         This is the first time since 1999 MSU opened up Southeastern Conference play against UGA.

·         Current MSU associate head coach Butch Thompson began his SEC coaching career from 2002-05 as an assistant in Athens.

·         Mississippi State head coach John Cohen (22nd round, 1990) and Georgia skipper Scott Stricklin (23rd round, 1993) were both drafted by the Minnesota Twins organization.

·         Stricklin shares the same exact name as Mississippi State’s Director of Athletics.

·         This series pits the No. 1 team in the SEC in double plays (UGA, 20) against the No. 2 team in the conference (MSU, 19).

Clutch Hitting Key

Clutch hitting with two outs has been the key to success or failure for much of the 2014 campaign. In MSU’s last nine wins, the Bulldogs have a +21 margin in two-out RBIs (24-3). In its seven losses this year, the Maroon and White own a -14 margin (16-2).

Defense Shoring Up

Through the first 10 games, MSU made 10 errors. In the last 10 games, State has made two. The improvement is a big reason why the Maroon and White lead the SEC and are ninth nationally with a .984 fielding percentage.

Quality Starts

Butch Thompson’s pitching staff is ahead of last year in terms of quality starts. The Bulldogs recorded their seventh QS in 2014 on March 11 after not getting their seventh last season until March 30. State is 6-1 in such games this year. In addition, MSU is 9-2 when the starter goes five-plus innings, but just 4-5 when going less than five.

MSU Has Depth

Through 20 games, 12 of 17 Bulldogs with an at-bat this season have at least two RBIs in a single game. In addition, 13 of 17 Bulldogs with an AB this season have recorded multiple hits in a game. State has 21 multi-RBI games and 43 multi-hit games.

Fast Starters

Thanks to fast starts and good starting pitching, the Bulldogs are finding success. Bulldog starting pitchers have surrendered less than two earned runs in 17 of 20 starts, with MSU owning an 11-2 record when scoring first.

The Need For Speed

After not having a player steal three bases in a single game since April 2009, the Bulldogs have had three players accomplish the feat in the first 20 games. It’s a big reason why MSU leads the SEC with 36 stolen bases on the year. On March 1 vs. Michigan State, Derrick Armstrong tied Brad Winkler’s 34-year school record with four swipes in a game. Armstrong joined Demarcus Henderson (3 on Feb. 19) and Jacob Robson (3 on Feb. 21) as Bulldogs with three-plus stolen bases this season. Armstrong and Henderson rank in the top 10 in the country and second in the SEC with eight steals.

Four Runs Or Less

In 68 percent of games since 2012,  associate head coach Butch Thompson’s pitching staff has given up four runs or less 106 times, winning 85 percent of the time when doing so (90-16).


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