Big weekend on campus for MSU this past weekend as they secured their third-consecutive series win as well as the top-10 spots on the all-time on-campus crowds in NCAA history. Mississippi State (32-10, 10-8) defeated a pesky Auburn Tigers club who would not go away in the first two ball games. A rain-shortened first game delayed the official game one until after game two on Friday night. State never could cash in on opportunities and lost the first Friday game 3-1 before finishing the last 2.2 innings and winning game one, 6-3.
State would bring in the second 14,000-plus crowd in NCAA history on Saturday and rode the momentum of the crowd to a 6-0 win and series clincher.
A pleasant surprise came in Monday morning following the series win as MSU backup catcher Nick Ammirati was awarded SEC player of the week honors after batting .545 with three RBIs during the weekend. This follows a big weekend from the senior last week in which he blasted a grand slam in game three of the series against Texas A&M. Ammirati has stepped up tremendously in the loss of senior catcher Mitch Slauter who is expected to miss at least another two weeks after his hand was hit by a pitch.
The honor was the second week in a row State had an SEC player of the week honor with Hunter Renfroe taking home the honor last weekend.
The encouraging sign of the weekend was that State did not play its best across the board but was within a couple of pitches of sweeping their second-consecutive series. The team is red hot and at the right time as they get another tough test this weekend in Nashville against one of the best teams in the country, Vanderbilt.
State stayed around the same spots across the top-25, but pulling out a couple of games in Nashville could get them back into the top 10 across the board.
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Now let's take a look at where State moved around statistically. Hunter Renfroe didn't get going like he has been thanks to some careful pitching to the star so he has dropped in a few categories.
Batting Average: 2nd (NCAA 16th)- Hunter Renfroe (.407); 9th- Adam Frazier (.347)
Hits: 5th (NCAA T-29th) - Frazier (59); T-7th- Renfroe (55)
Slugging %: 1st (NCAA 3rd) - Renfroe (.815)
On Base %: 1st (NCAA 37th) - Renfroe (.485)
Runs Scored: 3rd (NCAA T-39th) - Frazier (40); T-6th-Renfroe (37); T-11th- C.T. Bradford (32)
RBI: 4th (NCAA T-28th) - Renfore (42)
Doubles: T-2nd Frazier and Renfroe (12)
Triples: 2nd (NCAA T-6th) - Frazier (5)
Home Runs: T-1st (NCAA T-3rd) - Renfroe (13)
Total Bases: 3rd (NCAA 10th) - Renfroe (110); T-7th- Frazier (81)
Walks: 2nd (NCAA T-14th) - Alex Detz (35)
Hit by Pitch: T-10th- Bradford and Brett Pirtle (8)
At Bats: T-3rd- Frazier (170); T-9th-Bradford (162)
Batting Average: 3rd (.296)
Hits: 3rd (411)
Slugging %: 4th (.410)
On Base %: 3rd (.396)
Runs Scored: 3rd (269)
RBI: 3rd (238)
Doubles: 5th (67)
Triples: 5th (10)
Home Runs: T-4th (24)
Total Bases: 4th (570)
At Bats: 5th (1390)
Walks: 4th (NCAA 19th) (190)
Hit by Pitch: 3rd (55)
Stolen Bases: T-4th (48)
Well it wasn't a great weekend at the plate for the Diamond Dawgs and their rankings suffered because of it. State moved down in nearly every category during their series and it will be tough to get a big weekend from the bats against one of the better pitching staffs in the country at Vanderbilt but the Commodores have shown that they can struggle at times as well.
Team/Individual Defense and Pitching
Earned Run Average: 2nd (NCAA 4th) (2.37) Leaders: Ross Mitchell- 1st (NCAA 4th) - (0.91); Kendall Graveman- 9th (2.06)
Opposing Batting Average: 3rd (.213) Leader: Jacob Lindgren- 9th (.204); R. Mitchell-12th (.219)
Innings Pitched: 1st (376.1) Leader: Graveman- T-7th (65.2)
Strikeouts: 1st (NCAA 6th) (353) Leader: Lindgren- T-12 (53)
Wins: 3rd (32) Leaders: R. Mitchell- T-4th (NCAA T-22nd) (7); Luis Pollorena- T-8th-(6); Graveman- T-10th- (5)
Saves: 3rd (14) Leader: Jonathan Holder- T-1st (NCAA T-4th)- (12)
Appearances: Leaders: Holder and Chad Girodo- T-12th (19)
(Least Amount) Hits: 3rd (285) Leaders: Lindgren- T-3rd (33); R. Mitchell- T-9th- (39)
(Least Amount) Earned Runs: 2nd (99) Leader: R. Mitchell- 1st- (5); Lindgren- T-9th (13); Graveman- T-12th (15)
(Least Amount) Doubles: 2nd (38); Leaders: Lindgren- T-4th (4); R. Mitchell- T-9th (5); Graveman- T-14th (6)
(Least Amount) Triples: 4th (3) Leader: Graveman and Pollorena -T-1st (0)
(Least Amount) Home Runs: T-2nd (11) Leaders: Pollorena and R. Mitchell- T-1st (0); Lindgren- T-5th (1)
(Least Amount) Walks: 9th (141) Leader: Lindgren- T-9th (13)
(Least Amount) Intentional Walks: 1st (2)
Fielding %: 2nd (NCAA 23rd) (.976)
Chances: 2nd (1683)
Putouts: 4th (1129)
Assists: 1st (513) Leader: Frazier-1st (143); Pirtle- 10th (104)
Double Plays: 1st (NCAA 1st) (57) Leaders: Frazier-1st (48); Pirtle-T-6th (33); Rea- T-8th (31)
While the bats weren't as hot as usual, the fielding and pitching, for the most part, was superb once and again and the Dawgs moved up in a few categories.
State now turns their focus to this week starting with a Tuesday matchup at AutoZone Park in Memphis, Tenn., against the Memphis Tigers (25-16). Memphis is no slouch owning a 6-1 record vs. SEC teams this season including a two-game sweep of Ole Miss, the second game being a 4-0 shutout. Evan Mitchell (0-1, 4.12) will be on the mound for the start for the first time in exactly a month. The junior is looking to get back into rhythm after some tough-luck starts this season. One of the more talented hurlers on the squad will throw the first pitch at 6:30 p.m.
At this point in the season, the Bulldogs hold a 22-2 record in non-conference play with a perfect 9-0 mark in mid-week ball games with two games remaining.
This weekend State travels to Nashville to take on consensus top 5, Vanderbilt. The Commodores (35-6, 16-2) are coming off a series win against Georgia. Taking one game at the least is critical for MSU's chances of a host spot as the stretch run is beginning in the ever-tough SEC. State should be expected to go with the same rotation with Pollorena, Graveman and Lindgren on the mound respectively. Game times are 6:30 p.m. Friday, noon Saturday (CSS broadcast) and 1 p.m. Sunday.