It's been a tough past 7 days for your Mississippi State Bulldogs. After getting swept in Columbia, SC last weekend the Dawgs struggled mightily at the plate during the annual Governor's Cup against Ole Miss this past Tuesday in Pearl, MS. But despite the recent struggles, this team has a great opportunity to make a statement that the season's not over and postseason play is still an option.
It's Super Bulldog Weekend. The grandest stage for a home series in Starkville, MS. Starting Thursday night this year, the Bulldogs will take on the Tennessee Volunteers on ESPNU at 6:30 p.m., with the schedule showing the subsequent games on Friday night and Saturday afternoon.
Compared to last year, Dave Serrano, who is in his first year after coming over from Cal State Fullerton, is doing great things with a much improved Volunteer ball club . The Vols went 7-23 in league play last year. Midway through the 2012 campaign, and Tennessee is already 7-8. They're coming off a very competitive weekend series that they dropped to a top tier Florida Gator club. Despite a poor showing Sunday in an 8-1 loss, they were competitive on Friday night and took the win on Saturday.
Injuries continue to be an issue for the Dawgs. Head Coach John Cohen noted that OF Brent Brownlee will most likely not be able to start another game for the rest of the season. 3B Daryl Norris, after drawing the start at the hot corner throughout last weekend and Tuesday, is experiencing some pain still, so don't be surprised if Norris is our DH throughout the weekend with Trey Porter getting some reps at third. Pitcher Ben Bracewell may get some action in spots, but I don't expect to be the first man out of the bullpen. A new name on the growing list of Bulldog baseball injuries is SS Adam Frazier. Frazier is having a great sophomore campaign at the plate thus far, but Cohen noted that he had some knee soreness, though no one expects him to miss any time.
After facing a very strong pitching staff last weekend in Columbia, this weekend should provide ample opportunity for the bats to come alive for the home team at Dudy Noble. Look for Tennessee to throw Jr Zack Godley (4-2, 3.81 ERA) Thursday night. On Friday look to see Freshman Robbie Kidd (2-0, 3.19) and Soph Nick Williams (2-4, 3.15).
There will be no surprises for the Bulldogs on the mound for games 1 and 2. Thursday night will see Chris Stratton (7-0, 2.98) with Kendall Graveman (2-2, 3.25) on Friday night. It will be interesting to follow these two going on a day less rest versus a normal week schedule; I doubt it will be much of an issue, but it's at least of note. My money for Saturday afternoon will see MSU send Evan Mitchell (1-1, 4.13) to the mound.
At the end of the day, it's Super Bulldog Weekend. Get to Starkville and support the baseball and football program this weekend. I currently am sitting in Starkville writing this entry so come join me in the Right field area as we watch our baseball team whip the Vols.
RobbieRandolph's weekend projection: MSU takes 2 of 3 from UTenn.