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Kentucky Baseball: Kentucky vs Mississippi State Preview and Gamethread

The Kentucky Wildcats are rolling through the first two days of the SEC Tournament, leading to a face-off with Mississippi State and former head coach John Cohen for a spot in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats are putting together some of their best baseball of the season when it matters most.  Tonight they send freshman righthander Zach Brown to the hill against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.  I can't find any information about who MSU will be starting though it will likely be either Ross Mitchell or Preston Brown.  Of course, MSU is coached by former Kentucky head man John Cohen adding another layer of intrigue to the game.

UPDATE: Mississippi St is starting lefthander Ross Mitchell tonight.

Time and Expected Starters

30 Minutes after the conclusion of Arkansas and LSU.  Likely around 9:30 PM.

Kentucky: RHP Zach Brown, 0-1, 5.85 ERA, 1.95 WHIP in 20 innings

Mississippi St: LHP Ross Mitchell, 8-4, 1.85 ERA, 1.03 WHIP in 102 innings
RHP Preston Brown, 4-2, 2.82 ERA, 1.31 WHIP in 44.2 innings

TV and Radio

In the SEC Tournament

Kentucky and Mississippi St did not face each other this season, so here is what each team has accomplished in the tournament thus far.

  • Kentucky 7, Alabama 1
  • Kentucky 4, Florida 2
  • Mississippi St 5, Georgia 4 (10 innings)
  • Mississippi St 12, South Carolina 0 (7 innings, mercy rule)

Team Comparison

Record SEC Last 10 R/G RA/G SEC R/G SEC RA/G
Kentucky 34-22 14-16 6-4 7.9 5.1 6.4 5.7
Mississippi St 37-20 18-12 8-2 5.0 3.4 4.4 3.5

RPI Warren Nolan Ken Massey Boyd's World
Kentucky 20 32 32 27
Mississippi St 27 35 24 29

The Cats have been terrific as the lower seed in their first two games in the tournament, but they are clearly an underdog tonight.  Zach Brown did not fare well last Saturday against a poor-hitting Georgia team and now he must face a Mississippi State squad that just run-ruled one of the best pitching staffs in the nation last night.  Gary Henderson has gotten a near-perfect performance from his own staff thus far, but there is no avoiding the fact that his 4 best pitchers are unavailable and, other than Spencer Jack (1.34 ERA, 33.2 innings), the available options just have not been very good this year.

The lack of pitching depth will be a big hurdle to overcome because MSU has a great staff and they've been outstanding at holding down opposing offenses this year.  They did not face Kentucky's powerful lineup this year. but they did face Ole Miss four times, allowing an average of 4.5 runs to the Rebels.  Ole Miss finished second to UK in runs scored this year, so that will give you some idea of the capability of the MSU pitching staff.

On the positive side, last weekend Kentucky destroyed a Georgia staff that had a similar level of success to MSU.  The Wildcats will need to win this game with their offense, and it's a good bet that they will need at least 6 runs to make it so.

The winner of this game gains a berth in the semi-finals on Saturday and a coveted day off tomorrow.  The loser will play Florida on Friday for the right to advance.