When the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Kentucky Wildcats meet on the diamond at Dudy-Noble Field, both squads will play with a great bit on the line.
The Wildcats come to Starkville hoping to secure their first SEC crown since now MSU coach John Cohen led Kentucky to the title in 2006. The championship would secure a first round bye for the Wildcats in the SEC tournament.
Mississippi State currently finds itself in a tangle with a cluster of teams, and they could quickly rise in the standings with a few wins this weekend.
In order to do so, the Bulldogs, who have struggled offensively will have to scratch out runs against a quality pitching staff.
"Kentucky has three lefthanders starting for them on the mound," said Kyle Tucker of the Courier Journal. "Littrel has a 2.22 era and is 8-0. A lot of teams throw their best guy on Friday, but he has been their Sunday guy. He is their series closer."
The woes of the Maroon and White at the plate could be amplified in this series because the Wildcats have only suffered one defeat when they have led after the sixth inning. The Bulldogs must score early and often and keep in front of Kentucky.
"The relief pitching has been significantly better than it was a year ago," said Tucker.
Trevor Gott (3-0) leads the way out of the bullpen with a 2.79 ERA and nine saves.
The Wildcats have matched strong pitching with hitting this year as well. Kentucky averages nearly seven runs a game, and the mode of their scores is 10+.
The Bulldogs will counter their bats with Chris Stratton tonight and Kendall Graveman tomorrow. That TBA fellow gets the Saturday start. Also, Jonathan Holder has thrived as the closer, and that role will be vital if the Bulldogs get ahead.