Mississippi State beat #2 LSU 3-2 on Wednesday afternoon. Chris Stratton improved his record to 11-1 while Johnathon Holder picked up his 8th save (4th in the last week).
DeMarcus Henderson has come back from injury this week and certainly made an impact in this game. He had the go-ahead RBI, driving in Mitch Slauter in the 6th inning. In the 7th, Henderson made an amazing diving catch in left field for the third out.
The Diamond Dawgs will play Kentucky on Thursday afternoon. Kendall Graveman will get the start.
The key to winning this massive 10-team double-elimination tournament will be handling the pitching staff. So far, here are the pitchers that have been used:
Chris Stratton: 6 innings, 1 game
Brandon Woodruff: 5 innings, 1 game
Caleb Reed: 2 2/3 innings, 2 games
Johnathon Holder: 2 2/3 innings, 2 games
Ross Mitchell: 1 2/3 innings, 1 game
There's no doubt Stratton is done for this tournament as he needs to be saved for the Regional; Graveman won't pitch after Thursday's game as well. Everyone else, it's open season.
Given the fact that MSU is guaranteed two more games in Hoover, I would assume Luis Pollorena, Evan Mitchell and Nick Routt will be saved for the 4th game as they have starting experience. The question for Game 3 will be: are Reed and Holder available since they both pitched in each of the first two games? I would assume Cohen may want to go with Ross Mitchell (who pitched his 1 2/3 innings on Tuesday), Ben Bracewell and Jacob Lindgren in relief vs. Kentucky.
If State can beat the Wildcats they will have the day off on Friday. If that is the case I'm sure he will start either Evan Mitchell or Pollorena - pitching both during the game - and having a full complement of pitchers with the obvious exceptions of Stratton and Graveman. Then I think Nick Routt could get the start in a Championship Game, but Cohen might go back to Woodruff or he could start Will Cox.
If MSU isn't able to beat UK on Thursday, I think everyone gets moved up a day. Evan Mitchell / Pollorena on Friday and probably Nick Routt on Saturday...with Woodruff or Cox in a Championship Game. This route would likely tax the bullpen considerably, and guys like Lindgren, Bracewell and Taylor Stark will need to take the hill for some innings. The biggest effect playing 5 or 6 days could have is on Mitch Slauter. Has anyone seen another player catch this year? Slauter has started every game so far, and has never played in five, or even six straight days....especially in the heat. If the Dawgs are going to make it to the Championship Game it certainly would be best to win on Thursday so we don't have to play on Friday.