10 Jun

present arms

On paper, the glaring difference – and it is very glaring – between Super Regional foes Mississippi State and LSU is pitching. The Tigers have a 3.54 ERA, second-best in the SEC. For State, its staff worn thin by injuries, the number is 4.82, 12th among the 14 league teams. When these two teams met on the field, in Starkville in late May, LSU’s pitching prevailed. The Tigers won all three games, allowing 12 earned runs to 24 by State hurlers. Even though the Bulldogs scored some runs, they didn’t score nearly enough. With Alex Lange, Jared Pouche’ and Eric Walker, a formidable trio, lined up in LSU’s rotation, the Bulldogs aren’t likely to score a ton in the best-of-3 Super Regional at crazy Alex Box Stadium. That puts the onus on the State pitchers. And while they may appear overmatched, consider what this bunch did under dire straits in the Hattiesburg Regional. State won four games over two days after losing its opener (and catching a break when Day 2 was postponed by rain). Bulldogs head coach Andy Cannizaro and pitching coach Gary Henderson did a masterful job of piecing together the innings after having to use five arms in the Friday loss to South Alabama. Spencer Price and Riley Self worked on both Sunday and Monday, closing out the drama-filled 8-6 clincher against Southern Miss. Denver McQuary and Peyton Plumlee provided a clutch tag-team effort to beat South Alabama on Sunday, and Jacob Billingsley delivered a huge complete game in the Monday opener against USM. Against LSU, more of those kind of efforts will be needed. Maybe that’s a lot to ask. But, hey, that’s why they play the games.

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