MSU vs. Vanderbilt - Game Times, Pitching Matchups, and More

Your pitching matchups, game times, and more for the SEC home-opener matchup this weekend as well as other college baseball action around the nation and SEC.

After a shaky weekend in Arizona, the Mississippi State baseball team bounced back this past weekend with a big weekend series win in Athens over the University of Georgia. Things looked to be heading south for MSU on Friday night last weekend as the good Dogs took a 7-1 loss to the home-standing bad Dogs. However, State was able to rally behind outstanding pitching to win both games of a rain-induced Saturday doubleheader.

With a series win to open the SEC slate, the maroon and white now move on to a much tougher task in their first home conference series of the season - the Vanderbilt Commodores. Vandy, who comes in at 19-3 on the year, is coming off a very impressive home series win over the LSU Tigers. That series win is made even more impressive given that LSU beat Vanderbilt ace Tyler Beede on Friday night, forcing the 'Dores to bounce back and win two on Saturday if they wanted to take the series. They did just that the following day behind the rest of an incredibly strong starting pitching staff, and a host of good hitting.

Most teams that lose a Tony Kemp-type of player at the leadoff position would see a significant dropoff the next season. Fortunately for the gold and black that has not happened, as sophomore Dansby Swanson has stepped right in and become a sparkplug at the top of that lineup. Swanson is second on the team with a .329 average, and his 11 stolen bases puts him at or near the top of the SEC and national standings. If you were to look at all of the nation's top teams, you'd likely find a strong leadoff hitter in each of their lineups, and Swanson fills that role for Vandy. One of the other main cogs that powers the Vandy "O" is freshman outfielder Bryan Reynolds, who leads the team with a .361 average after 22 games. Reynolds has been so good as a true freshman, driving in 21 runs while slugging 10 doubles, one triple, and two home runs on the season. These two players personify the Vandy MO since Tim Corbin has been there - young and phenomenal talent.

The bad news for MSU is that we haven't even talked about Vandy's strong suit yet - its pitching staff. Led by future top-5 pick Tyler Beede, this staff is considered by most to be the best in college baseball. The weekend rotation of Tyler Beede, Tyler Ferguson, and Jared Miller feature combined numbers like this - 12-1, 1.01 ERA, and 89 strikeouts. Scary-good stuff from their starters. As for the back end of the staff, that's anchored by closer Carson Fulmer, who has six saves, 23 K's and a 1.12 ERA so far on the year.

If Mississippi State is going to have a chance to win the series this weekend, they'll need their own pitching staff to be on top of their game. State will go with Preston Brown, Ross Mitchell, and Trevor Fitts in that order for the series - a pitching rotation that continues to morph as pitchers perform well. Those three are State's hottest three starters right now, so it's good to see Cohen get them in the rotation and give State its best chance to win this weekend.

Calling a series for State against a team as good as Vanderbilt is tough, but I do like our chances at home versus if this game was on the road. I think State's staff will keep MSU in the games; the question will be whether or not the offense can come through against that tough, tough Vanderbilt pitching staff. I'm optimistic that the SEC home opener will be a good one for State.

all times and pitching matchups courtesy of HailState.com

Game Times and Pitching Matchups (All times Central, matchups subject to change)

Friday - 6:30 p.m. (CSS) - Dudy Noble Field - Starkville, MS
- RSo. RHP Preston Brown (2-0, 0.75 ERA) vs. Jr. RHP Tyler Beede (4-1, 0.84 ERA)

Saturday - 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU) - Dudy Noble Field
- RJr. LHP Ross Mitchell (3-1, 1.50 ERA) vs. Jr. LHP Jared Miller (5-0, 0.57 ERA)

Sunday - 1:30 p.m. - Dudy Noble Field
- Jr. RHP Trevor Fitts (2-0, 3.55 ERA) vs. So. RHP Tyler Ferguson (3-0, 1.63 ERA)

Leading Hitters

Vanderbilt
- Bryan Reynolds, LF | .361 avg, 30 hits, 10 2B, 2 HRs, 21 RBIs, .478 slg
- Dansby Swanson, 2B | .329 avg, 28 hits, 8 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 10 RBIs, 11 SBs

Mississippi State
- C.T. Bradford, CF | .323 avg, 21 hits, 4 3B, 12 RBIs, 2 SBs, .477 slg%
- Demarcus Henderson, OF | .319 avg, .467 ob%, 14 hits, 9 SBs, 4 RBIs
- Wes Rea, 1B | .288 avg, 23 hits, 4 2B, 3 HRs, 21 RBIs, .450 slg

Links

Baseball America Weekend Preview - 3/21 to 3/23
MSU vs. Vanderbilt - Game Notes (via HailState.com)
Vanderbilt Baseball Homepage

Top 25 Weekend Matchups

- (1) South Carolina at Kentucky
- (2) Florida State at (13) Clemson
- (3) Virginia at (25) Miami
- Arizona State at (4) Oregon State
- Georgia State at (5) Louisiana-Lafayette
- (6) Vanderbilt at (21) Mississippi State
- California at (7) Cal Poly
- Georgia at (8) Louisiana State
- Long Beach State at (9) Cal State Fullerton
- (10) North Carolina State at Maryland
- Florida Atlantic at (11) Rice
- Utah at (12) Oregon
- Rutgers at (14) Louisville
- Columbia at (15) Texas
- (16) Sam Houston State at Central Arkansas
- Georgia Tech at (17) North Carolina
- Auburn at (18) Tennessee
- Wagner at (19) UC Santa Barbara
- Missouri at (20) Mississippi
- Washington State at (22) UCLA
- College of Charleston at (23) Houston

SEC Weekend Matchups

- Auburn at (18) Tennessee
- (1) South Carolina at Kentucky
- Florida at Texas A&M
- (6) Vanderbilt at (21) Mississippi State
- Alabama at Arkansas
- Missouri at (20) Ole Miss
- Georgia at (8) LSU

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