The LSU Tigers have been on an absolute tear. LSU hasn’t dropped a game since a one-run loss to South Alabama on May 9 and are lighting up scoreboards everywhere with some of the best hitters in the country. The Tigers are looking to get back to Omaha after missing out on the CWS last season, but need to get past the Mississippi State Bulldogs first. LSU swept Mississippi State just a few weeks ago, but the Bulldogs have looked better since then and won four games in two days to reach the Super Regional.
This series will be contested from Friday, June 9, 2017 through Sunday, June 11, 2017 at Skip Bertman Field at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge. Death Valley will see night games on Friday and Saturday with both tilts starting at 9 p.m. ET. The first will be broadcast on ESPN2 and the second is yet to be determined. Game 3 will be played Sunday if necessary.
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Runs were plentiful in two of the three games when these teams met in the middle of May. In those two games, the starters were chased early and the bullpens couldn’t handle the load. Particularly, Mississippi State’s bullpen really struggled with LSU’s bats. They gave up 11 earned runs in 12 innings of action in the three-game series.
Alex Lange, Jared Poche, and Eric Walker have each started 16 games for LSU this season. Lange has been the most active of the bunch with 103.1 innings of work and he also registered four complete games.
Poche and Walker have been solid, allowing opposing batters to hit just .230 against them on the season. However, Poche can struggle with his placement sometimes and has hit 12 batters on the season. Additionally, these pitchers are susceptible to the gopher ball with batters cranking 31 home runs off of them this year.
We know that Konnor Pilkington will get one of the starts for Mississippi State. He was the one pitcher that had a good start against LSU earlier in the season and has been the ace on this staff all season. Pilkington is allowing batters to hit just .198 off of him this season and has more than a strikeout an inning.
The Bulldogs want to keep the Tigers from getting to the bullpen as long as possible, especially Trysten Barlow. In the second game of the series in May, Barlow was called to stop an LSU rally with the bases loaded. He walked the next three batters on just 14 pitches and looked totally rattled. Spencer Price has been a solid closer, but getting to him has been an issue.
Hitters to Watch
Greg Deichmann has put together one of the best seasons a power hitter can have at the collegiate level. He has an OPS of 1.044 and 19 home runs on the year. Opposing pitchers have been unwilling to face him in critical situations and he has drawn 47 walks. The Bulldogs will avoid him at all costs and walked him 10 times in their three-game series earlier this year.
Brent Rooker was named National Player of the Year for a reason. Rooker is set to be a top ten pick in the MLB Draft this year and has ripped up the record books in Starkville. He posted a mind-blowing slugging percentage of .827 this season with an incredible 56 extra-base hits. LSU challenged him last time and he responded with seven hits in 11 at-bats. It will be interesting to see what the Tigers do this time.
What to Expect
LSU has a much more talented team than their SEC West counterparts do, but Rooker has single-handedly turned games on their head before. Look for LSU to completely avoid him this time around and give him a free base to make someone else beat them.
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