Opens SEC Baseball Play at No. 10 Mississippi State
Winners in six of their last nine games, Vanderbilt
(10-6) travels to Starkville, Miss., to battle No. 10
Mississippi State (11-1-1) on the opening weekend of
Southeastern Conference play. The series begins Friday
at 6:30 p.m., at Dudy Noble Field at Polk-Dement Stadium.
Game two is Saturday at 2 p.m., with the series finale
Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
The series will feature several interesting matchups,
including showdowns between the league’s top two
defensive squads, the league’s top two pitching
staffs and arguably two of the conference’s best
pitchers in Vanderbilt sophomore left-hander Jeremy
Sowers and Mississippi State junior southpaw Paul Maholm
on Friday. The VU-MSU series will also mark the first
meeting between first-year Commodore coach Tim Corbin
and 24-year Bulldog skipper Ron Polk, the dean of SEC
Vanderbilt entered the week with a 2.30 team ERA, second
in the SEC only to Mississippi State’s 2.25 ERA.
The Commodores (.982 fielding percentage) also ranked
second to the Bulldogs (.983) in team defense.
Vanderbilt will send Sowers (0-2, 3.06 ERA), a second
team preseason All-American to the mound on Friday.
Sowers, who entered the week second in the league in
strikeouts with 36, has walked only eight batters and
allowed 11 earned runs in 32.1 innings. However, Sowers
has suffered from a lack of run support as Commodore
hitters have produced only two runs a contest when he
starts. Mississippi State will counter with their second
team preseason All-American in Maholm (2-1, 0.90 ERA).
The Bulldog hurler has 23 strikeouts and only four walks
in 20.0 innings this season. It marks the first meeting
between the two pitchers.
Saturday will see VU go with junior right-hander Robert
Ransom (2-0, 3.33) while MSU will counter with sophomore
right-hander Alan Johnson (2-0, 1.86 ERA). Sunday has
Commodore freshman southpaw Ryan Mullins (1-1, 2.59
ERA) starting against Bulldog sophomore left-hander
Todd Nicholas (1-0, 2.25). On the season, Mississippi
State has hit the ball better than Vanderbilt, entering
the week with a .321 batting average compared to .261
for the Commodores.
Complete Game Notes