Mississippi State (24-27, 8-19 SEC) travels to Knoxville to battle Tennessee (21-25, 8-18 SEC) in the final series of the 2015 regular season. Both of these teams are battling for a spot in Hoover.
For the Bulldogs, it's simple: win two out of three and hope Georgia gets swept by Arkansas, or sweep Tennessee and have Georgia lose the series. In other words, chances are slim that Cohen's bunch plays any more baseball after this weekend.
But for the die-hard fans out there, I know you haven't given up hope. For the few of you that will be watching this weekend, here are the Tennessee players to keep an eye on:
Christin Stewart (junior): Oh gosh, not another home run hitter. We all saw what Sikes Orvis did to MSU pitchers last weekend. Stewart brings that same threat for the Vols with his 13 home runs and 42 RBI's coming into the series. He's also been plunked by an unbelievable 14 pitches to lead the SEC in that category. Tennessee is not a great hitting team. The second highest RBI producer on the team is 15 behind Stewart with 27. But all it takes is one good power hitter to hurt you, especially if you leave too many runners on base. MSU has to pitch carefully to this guy and make sure a repeat of last weekend doesn't happen.
Andrew Lee (junior): Lee is a two-way player for the Vols and has seen action on both the infield and the mound. At the plate, he is hitting .315 and also brings a little bit of a power threat like Stewart, with eight long balls and 27 RBI's. Those numbers would likely be higher if Lee was a full-time starter. He has started 33 out of 46 games. On the mound, Lee is one of the Vols' best relief pitchers, mostly pitching towards the end of games in a closer's role. In 18 appearances, he is 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA and eight saves.
Bret Marks (senior): The ace for the Vols has pitched better than his 4-5 record would lead you to believe. He's really the only strikeout pitcher on the team, and boy has he dominated opposing batters at times. He has struck out 84 and walked 24 in 70 innings. He has a solid ERA at 3.09 but the biggest thing that jumps out is his .196 opponent batting average, third best in the SEC. He has four pitches he can throw for strikes. Outside of Marks, the Vols have struggled to find any consistency from their starting pitchers. My favorite thing about this guy is he wears glasses that make him look like Rick the "Wild Thing" Vaughn from the movie Major League.
He hasn't pitched since April 25th against South Carolina, but I wasn't able to find anything about an injury. So it's up in the air as to whether or not MSU will see Marks this weekend. He's not scheduled to start the first two games, so if they do face him it will most likely be on Saturday or out of the bullpen.