Mississippi State Bulldogs Host Memphis Tigers in Baseball Action

Bracewell will be on the bump Wednesday night as the Bulldogs take on the Tigers at Dudy Noble - USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State looks to answer lineup and rotation questions against the undefeated Memphis Tigers.

The Mississippi State Bulldogs picked up a season-opening series win against the Western Carolina Catamounts, and now they turn their attention to an undefeated Memphis Tigers (3-0) squad at 6:30 tonight at Dudy-Noble Field.

The Skinny

Pitching Matchup

Leading Hitters

Season to Date

Ben Bracewell, MSU - 1-0, 0 ERA,
1.1 IP, 2 K  
Brett Pirtle, MSU - .364, 4 hits,
3 RBIs, .545 SLG%
MSU - Def. W. Carolina 2-1
vs. Zach Willis, UM - .600, 6 hits,
2 RBI, .700 SLG%
UM - Def. W. Michigan 3-0
Caleb Wallingford, UM - 1-0, 0 ERA,
3.0 IP, 4 K      

Three Questions for the Game

1. How will Ben Bracewell look in his first start of the season? The senior ace was flawless in 1.1 innings of work to earn the win in the Sunday rubber game against Western Carolina this past weekend.  Bracewell seems to be in a place where he could earn a Sunday starting role or fill the shoes of Chad Girodo as a key component in the bullpen.  He'll get his chances at both.

2. Will the bats look any better than they did this weekend? Don't let the number of runs scored this past weekend fool you.  Mississippi State did not have a great offensive weekend with the sticks, as was perfectly displayed in their four-hit, seven-run win on Sunday.  As is typically the case with a John Cohen team, MSU found alternative ways to get on base in the first weekend of play, but they will need to work on becoming more consistent and cutting down on the strikeouts as we move closer to conference play in a month or so.

3. How will mid-week crowds look this year? MSU led the nation in attendance last weekend for the three game set against the Catamounts with 24,850 fans attending (paid*) the opening weekend series.  Midweek games do not typically draw as well, but with a record number of season tickets being purchased, it will be interesting to see how the crowd fills in to Dudy-Noble tonight.  A mild, fairly dry day in Starkville could bring out a better than usual crowd for tonight's game, at least for those who won't be elsewhere preparing for the Snoop Dogg uhh... Lion? concert at Rick's this evening.

Prediction

Memphis returns eight starters and eight pitchers from a team that finished 35-24 in 2013.  Despite the returning talent from last year's team, the Tigers are expected to finish about mid-pack in the AAC this year, well behind the conference's lone legit baseball threat, Louisville.  Last year, MSU put on a bit of an offensive showcase in Memphis, tuning up UM 12-1 in a game where four Bulldogs had multiple RBIs.  Even though State is still in the process of warming up its bats for this year, tonight may be the perfect chance for them to break out a bit and score some runs much as they did against Memphis last season.  I think State breaks out a bit and hits the ball well tonight, and Ben Bracewell has a solid start that gives MSU enough of a cushion to win.  State takes the game and heads into the weekend series with Holy Cross at 3-1 on the young season.

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