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Weekend Preview: Mississippi State

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Tigers look for a rebound in Starkville.

Jake Mangum
Blake Williams/MSU Athletics

LSU has hit the skids offensively. That happens in baseball, there are always peaks and valleys throughout the season.

After their 2-0 loss to McNeese Tuesday night, the team held a players-only meeting in right field where the veteran leaders said that the great LSU teams of the past wouldn’t be okay with how the team is currently performing.

It’s a nice sentiment and something you love to hear from the experienced core of your team, but it’s going to be awfully hard to right the ship this weekend as the Tigers play Mississippi State in the new Dudy-Noble Field

Times And Pitching Matchups

Game 1: 6:00 p.m. Thursday, ESPNU, 98.1 FM

LSU: Zach Hess, JR RHP (2.97 ERA, 33.1 IP, 2.11 K/BB [36/17])

MISS ST: Ethan Small, JR LHP (1.75 ERA, 36 IP, 7.25 K/BB [58/8])

Game 2: 6:00 p.m. Friday, SEC Network, 100.7 FM

LSU: Cole Henry, FR RHP (3.24 ERA, 25 IP, 2.78 K/BB [25/9])

MISS ST: JT Ginn, FR RHP (2.58 ERA, 38.1 IP, 12.25 K/BB [49/4])

Game 3: 2:00 p.m. Saturday, SEC Network+, 98.1

LSU: Eric Walker, SO RHP (6.04 ERA, 22.1 IP, 2.43 K/BB [17/7])

MISS ST: TBA

At A Glance

Record: 23-3

NC: 19-1

SEC: 4-2

RPI: 17

SOS: 240

RPI 50: 9-3

RPI 25: 3-1

After powering through the non-conference slate with just a 10-inning 1-0 loss to strong Southern Miss, Mississippi State kicked down the door of SEC play by taking a series against Florida in Gainesville and then Auburn.

The Bulldogs are averaging 9.42 runs per game and have outscored opponents 245-86. If you want to whittle that down to just the two weeks of SEC play, it’s still a 58-37 split.

As shocking as this sounds, Mississippi State has a good baseball team.

At The Plate

Notables

MISS ST Hitters

PLAYER AVG SLG OBP H 2B 3B HR RBI K/BB
PLAYER AVG SLG OBP H 2B 3B HR RBI K/BB
Jake Mangum .407 .542 .458 48 11 1 1 24 .556
Jordan Westburg .376 .644 .480 38 11 2 4 29 1.79
Elijah MacNamee .356 .556 .475 32 9 0 3 27 .762
Justin Foscue .349 .615 .402 38  28  1.09

Miss State can hit, that much is not in doubt. We knew Jake Mangum was a dude, and he has backed that up so far this season with an absurd outing at the dish. He’s riding a six-game his streak that includes a 4-6 day in the Bulldogs’ 15-2 thrashing of Auburn.

Sophomore infielder Jordan Westburg has been on a tear over the past week, going 10 for his last 17 with 12 RBI. Pretty much every State batter has a little pop, but Justin Foscue is their big threat with seven dingers on the season. By comparison, Duplantis and Cabrera lead LSU with five.

On The Mound

Non-Starting Notables

MISS ST Pitchers

PLAYER ERA WHIP IP K/BB BAA SV
PLAYER ERA WHIP IP K/BB BAA SV
Trysten Barlow .93 .978 9.2 8.00 .222 0
Riley Self .96 1.10 9.1 6.00 .257 0
Jared Lebelt 2.20 .870 16.1 7.00 .200 2
Cole Gordon 4.20 1.20 15 3.43 .200 6

State has a bevvy of pitchers with good numbers in the bullpen. This is ultimately why I think the Tigers will have an uphill climb both ways this weekend. Last Sunday they did a good job of getting to the Georgia bullpen and almost took advantage of their weakness to take the series. That likely won’t be the blueprint this weekend as State has deep pen.

Oddly enough though, their closer Cole Gordon has been roughed up more than most pitchers have. Giving up three earned runs to both Florida and Auburn won’t get you publicly shamed, but some uneasiness at the tail end of a game could just add more fuel to the LSU-Mississippi State baseball fire.

Prediction

I don’t think LSU is as dead to rights as some people may think. The offense is going through a cold funk, it happens. It is a long season and it feels like this happens every year, only this time it’s slightly more exaggerated. It’ll buff out, that’s why Paul Mainieri is regarded as one of the best coaches in the sport. LSU is still 4-3 in SEC play, the decline is not as real as you may think.

...but.

I just think the timing is wrong for LSU. I think they’ll put up a fight and if Cole Henry has an outing like he did last week, then the Tigers can definitely take the series but as it stands I’m going 2-1 Mississippi State.