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Better Know an Opponent: Mississippi St Bulldogs

This one’s for Skip

ATVS PaulDan

Yeah, late again. Thursday series are a killer

Starkville is an old Indian word for “trailer park”.

-Skip Bertman

College baseball doesn’t quite have the long, storied rivalries that football or even basketball has, but LSU-State is probably the best baseball rivalry in the country. Under normal circumstances, I don’t have much against State, and heck, I’ll even admit that the cowbell thing is kind of cool.

But in baseball? Forget it. I hate those bastards so much. I hope we raze their stadium, sow the field with salt, and pour sugar in the gas tank of every car in the Left Field Lounge (which is totally fake now). I hated John Cohen about as much as I could hate a coach, and then he got himself promoted to AD and stole Andy Cannizaro from LSU.

You’d think I couldn’t hate Andy. After all, he was a great assistant for us. But you would have guessed wrong. Let’s make him regret that phone call.

Mississippi State Bulldogs

Record: 34-19 (17-10)

RS/RA: 310/266

Rank/ISR/RPI: 8/26/22

The human polls like the Bulldogs a lot more than the computer ones. Mainly, it’s the unimpressive RS/RA split, though a fairly easy out of conference schedule doesn’t help. Even less helpful is the fact State isn’t even the best team named the Bulldogs in the SEC, if results are to mean anything. State is coming off a series loss to Georgia, and no, that doesn’t make any sense.

State has been among the leaders all year in the West division, but they have stumbled down the stretch, going just 4-5 in the last three weekends, allowing LSU to rocket past them in the standings. Now, LSU holds a one-game two-game lead and needs to win the series to clinch the division title.

Mascot: Bully

Jak is the 21st Bully in Mississippi State history, but the 22nd bulldog mascot. The first was acquired by head football coach Major Ralph Sasse in an attempt to motivate his team. Because what is more motivating than an English bulldog, an animal that takes laziness to unforeseen heights? He named the dog Ptolemy, because people actually read books back in the 1930s. Anyway, the Bulldogs beat Army and Bama, and that was a good enough sign to get a permanent bulldog, Bully.

Bully was Ptolemy’s littermate, and there has been a Bully on campus ever since. He’s adorable.

About the School

USNWR Rank: 176

Most Popular Major: Business

Really, the most popular major at Mississippi St is “How the hell do I get out of Mississippi?” Also, nearly 10% of students major in Leisure, which is approximately how many students have given up on ever getting out.

About the Team

Offense

Brent Rooker is absurdly good. Before we say anything about the rest of the team, let’s stand in awe of his 406/514/885 slash line and his 20 homers and 18 steals. He leads in the SEC in all of those categories. He’s easily going to win SEC Player of the Year, but before we concede the series, let’s note he’s just one guy. Yes, he’s awesome. He’s going to do damage. The key is controlling the rest of the offense.

State only ranks 8th in the SEC in runs scored, primarily because they don’t get on base that much, relative to a team that’s third in BA and slugging. They get hits, and those hits are for power, but they rank third in the league in strikeouts and dead last in walks. You have to miss bats against them. It sounds silly, but they need to get hits to get on.

Cody Brown hits 310/410/506 and Ryan Gridley is mashing it at 325/393/459. This is not a one man team. Those lines look small only in comparison to Rooker’s video game numbers, but they have six guys hitting 300 and four guys slugging at least 400. The issues are the back of the order is pretty bad, and again, they don’t draw walks.

Defense

State has only announced their first two starters, and neither blow your doors off. LHP Konnor Pilkington (3.44 ERA, 91/35 K/BB) and RHP Denver McQuay (3.89, 31/32) get the nod. Their best pitcher is Spencer Price (2.28 ERA, 36/15), who has amassed 14 saves in 27.2 IP. But even that doesn’t send fear down your spine. This staff is vulnerable. LSU needs to light them up.

Tiger Bait?

The whole season on the line and we get to celebrate in Starkville? Sign me up. LSU wins the West, and shoves it in their faces. Because that’s what rivals do, they delight in each other’s pain.