Previewing today’s series opener between No. 14 South Carolina and No. 24 Mississippi State.
• First pitch: 6:30 p.m.
• Records: South Carolina 38-14 (16-10 SEC), MSU 38-15 (14-13)
• Pitching matchup: South Carolina LHP Nolan Belcher (7-5, 2.23) vs. MSU LHP Luis Pollorena (6-3, 3.86)
• South Carolina lineup: LF Graham Saiko, 3B Chase Vergason, SS Joey Pankake, 1B LB Dantzler, 2B Max Schrock, C Grayson Greiner, DH Brison Celek, RF Connor Bright, CF Tanner English
• MSU lineup: SS Adam Frazier, 3B Alex Detz, RF Hunter Renfroe, 2B Brett Pirtle, 1B Wes Rea, CF C.T. Bradford, DH Derrick Armstrong, LF Demarcus Henderson, C Nick Ammirati
• What to watch for: We’ve been over what’s at stake this weekend, but in case you need to be caught up, read my series advance from today’s Journal. If MSU loses tonight, then it will for sure be playing on Tuesday in the SEC Tournament, and that is a single-elimination day. A sweep of SC plus at least one LSU win over Ole Miss, and State won’t have to play until late Wednesday night. The Bulldogs’ starting pitching struggled last weekend at Ole Miss, posting a collective ERA of 9.00. But Pollorena turned in solid work (2 runs, 5 hits in 5 2/3 innings), and he’ll look to build on that tonight.
• Pregame playlist: A few songs from my iPod to set the tone…
–”Heavy Feet,” Local Natives
–”Mr. Hangman,” Stone Foxes
–”Simple Feeling,” Heartless Bastards
–”Bullet with Butterfly Wings,” Smashing Pumpkins