It's that time again; time for MSU to make the trip down to Baton Rouge and Alex Box Stadium to take on the LSU Tigers. The annual battle always entertains, but the Bulldogs will make the road trip this weekend looking to take a series from LSU for the first time since 2006.
State and LSU will go into this weekend with pitching rotations and matchups that look a bit different than they have for both teams in previous weekends. (UPDATE: apparently Nola has been moved back up to Friday. Maineiri says he had moved him back to Saturday at the start to get him full rest, but I'm not 100% convinced that we aren't seeing a little cat and mouse between the two coaches. Who knows, maybe it is just weather).
MSU will move up new starter Ross Mitchell to Friday night in place of Preston Brown, and LSU will move their ace, Aaron Nola, back one night to Saturday. Mitchell is moving up for MSU because Brown has had some soreness in his shoulder this week, while Nola is moving back a night so that he can get his typical six days rest. The movement by both players means that we won't see each team's hottest pitcher face each other, but I doubt either coach minds much. Jared Poche' and Trevor Fitts are set to offset each other on Saturday now Mitchell and Nola, and Sunday's pitchers on both sides are wide open going into the weekend. It will be interesting to see how MSU chooses to play Sundays game given Brown's soreness.
They (State) have not made any mention of trying Woodruff as a starter since he struggled early in the year, and I believe Brown hasn't been completely ruled out to come back and pitch on Sunday, depending on how things go. It will also depend on how many pitchers MSU is forced to use in games one and two this weekend, as they could either be short on pitching or still have plenty of options left once the finale comes Sunday afternoon. We could also see Ben Bracewell get the third start; there really is no shortage of different options that we could see from State this weekend.
LSU comes into the weekend struggling a bit after a weekend series sweep at the hands of Florida. The Tigers have struggled to score runs this year - something they've rarely had problems with, ever. MSU hasn't just been lighting the world up offensively this year either, but State has done "enough" as of late to manufacture wins in conference play. It will be interesting to see what type of scoring we see in this weekend's games as each team features strong pitching and mid-to-low tier hitting currently.
Setting discussion of specific players and game keys aside, this weekend will be all about MSU and whether or not they can finally win a series in Baton Rouge - a place that has been a house of horrors for State at times. Even when MSU has played LSU well, they typically find a way to LSU the game up, aka win in dramatic fashion late. That's just what they do. I was in the house two years ago to witness a masterful showdown between Chris Stratton and Kevin Gausman when late runs cost Stratton and his 17 strikeouts a win in a 3-2 loss. State has been close before, but like I said, this weekend should be about trying to go in and get a series win over LSU, and completing the job in what really is their toughest test so far this season.
That will be easier said than done, as the Tigers are as talented as always, despite their recent record. They should also be plenty motivated as well coming off a series sweep in Gainesville. I expect the unexpected anytime these two teams get together to play, so you probably should too. I honestly don't know which way to call this series, but if the two teams can get all three games in this weekend, it should be a fun weekend of baseball for sure.
all times and pitching matchups courtesy of HailState.com.
Game Times and Pitching Matchups (All times Central, matchups subject to change)
Friday - 6:30 p.m. (CSS, ESPN3) - Alex Box Stadium - Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- RJr. LHP Ross Mitchell (5-1, 1.55 ERA) vs. Fr. LHP Jared Poche' (5-2, 2.61 ERA)
Saturday - 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU, WatchESPN) - Alex Box Stadium
- Jr. RHP Trevor Fitts (2-1, 3.09 ERA) vs. Jr. RHP Aaron Nola (5-1, 0.55 ERA)
Sunday - 1:00 p.m. (CST, ESPN3) - Alex Box Stadium
- TBA vs. TBA
- Kade Scivicque, C | .367 avg, 33 hits, 3 HRs, 18 RBIs, .511 slg
- Andrew Stevenson, OF | .341 avg, 29 hits, 14 RBIs, .389 ob%, 5 SBs
- Demarcus Henderson, OF | .333 avg, .468 ob%, 21 hits, 9 SBs, 5 RBIs
- Derrick Armstrong, OF | .328 avg, 20 hits, 10 RBIs, .389 ob%, 9 SBs
- Brett Pirtle, 2B | .316 avg, 36 hits, 13 RBIs, .373 ob%, 3 SBs
Top 25 Weekend Matchups
- Notre Dame at (1) Florida State
- (2) South Carolina at Arkansas
- (3) Virginia at Pittsburgh
- (4) Louisiana-Lafayette at Troy
- (17) UC Santa Barbara at (5) Cal Poly
- Stanford at (6) Oregon State
- (7) Vanderbilt at Tennessee
- Baylor at (8) Texas
- (9) Mississippi State at (20) Louisiana State*
- (10) Houston at Rutgers
- Memphis at (11) Louisville
- East Carolina at (12) Rice
- (13) Florida at (22) Kentucky
- (14) Washington at (19) Oregon
- (15) Alabama at Texas A&M
- North Carolina State at (16) Clemson
- UC Davis at (18) Cal State Fullerton
- (21) UCLA at/vs./at Long Beach State
- Auburn at (23) Mississippi
- (24) Indiana at Iowa
- (25) UNLV at Fresno State
Bold indicates an SEC series
*Indicates my series of the week
SEC Weekend Matchups and Predictions
Last week's predictions: 3-4, yikes!
- South Carolina at Arkansas | S. Carolina 2-1
- Vanderbilt at Tennessee | Vandy 2-1
- Florida at Kentucky | Kentucky 2-1
- Georgia at Missouri | Missouri 2-1?
- Alabama at Texas A&M | Alabama 2-1
- Auburn at Ole Miss | Ole Miss 2-1
- Mississippi State at LSU