Mississippi State (22-16, 6-9) welcomes the #6 Florida Gators (28-10, 9-6) to Dudy Noble this weekend for a three-game set as part of Super Bulldog Weekend.
The Gators are coming in red-hot after a sweep of South Carolina last weekend. They dropped a close decision to rival Florida State during the mid week.
If there's one thing the Dogs have in their favor this weekend, it's that Florida has lost their only two SEC series on the road. Those losses came to Missouri and Ole Miss. The Bulldogs hope to see Florida's road woes continue and pick up a series win.
That will be easier said than done, as the Gators have two of the top power hitters in the SEC and a solid pitching staff to go along with them. Here are the names MSU fans should look out for this weekend:
Harrison Bader (junior): After leading the Gators in batting average the past two seasons, Bader has exploded into a major home run hitter and RBI producer this year. He has 11 long balls and has knocked in 43 runs, both of which rank in the top three in the SEC, to go along with his .357 batting average. Bader is also second in the league with a .722 slugging percentage.
Logan Shore (sophomore): Named the National Freshman of the Year by Perfect Game in 2014, Shore has not experienced a sophomore slump that many players go through after a strong freshman season. He is 5-2 on the season, compiled a 2.16 ERA, struck out 34 and walked 12 in 50 innings. Shore gives up some hits, but he is great at pitching out of trouble and not allowing many runs. He dominated in non-conference more than he has against SEC teams. All 12 of his runs given up have come in SEC play. That's still less than three runs per start, so that's not too shabby at all. Shore usually guarantees at least five to six innings for the Gators on Friday nights.
Josh Tobias (senior): Tobias is a senior leader of the Gators who has been starting games ever since he was a freshman. It seems like he's been playing for ten years now. The speedy Tobias has always been just an average hitter but this year he's experiencing his best season offensively, batting .378 with seven doubles, four triples, and four home runs. Tobias is hitting .390 in conference play.
Bobby Poyner (senior): When it comes to the bullpen, Poyner is the guy for the Gators. MSU will see Poyner in a tight game, and they better be ready to swing the bats. He fills up the strike zone and doesn't allow free passes. He's made 13 appearances this year, striking out 38 and only walking three in 38 innings of work. He is 2-1 with a 2.13 ERA. His ERA was over 3.00 in each of his first three seasons.
JJ Schwarz (freshman): This guy is a freshman phenom. As if Bader wasn't enough for pitchers to deal with, Schwarz has done his share of damage to opposing pitchers as well. His .314 average is not as high as Bader's, but he's only one back of the SEC lead with 13 home runs and is first in RBI's with 46. Granted, Schwarz's numbers are a little inflated after the week we had last week. In the Gators' four victories last week, Schwarz stroked the baseball and finished the week with seven home runs, 12 runs scored, and 15 RBI's. He's swinging a red-hot bat coming into Starkville.