Georgia preview

Preston Brown is 4-2 with a 2.82 ERA this season as a sophomore. (Lee Adams/ Special to the Daily Journal)

Preston Brown is 4-2 with a 2.82 ERA this season as a sophomore. (Lee Adams/ Special to the Daily Journal)

Mississippi State understands arduous process to advance to the SEC Tournament Championship.

The Bulldogs hoisted the 2012 SEC Tournament title by playing six games in six days.

That will be the same path MSU will have to take this time around as well as No. 5 seed MSU takes on 12th-seeded Georgia tonight in a single elimination contest at approximately 8 p.m. on CSS.

Mississippi State (35-20) advanced to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament last year and are 60-46 overall at the event having won it seven times.

State is 7-4 all-time against Georgia in the SEC Tournament with the last meeting coming in 2002.

The two teams meet in Athens earlier this year in the SEC series opener for both. UGA won the opening game 7-1 but MSU bounced back to sweep a doubleheader the following day 6-1 and 4-1 to take the series.

Georgia still holds a 45-42 lead in the overall series against Mississippi State.

John Cohen’s club is batting .271 on the year with 14 home runs and scoring 4.9 runs per game. MSU maintains a .980 fielding percentage and has swiped 63 bases in 88 attempts.

Senior second baseman Brett Pirtle leads the team with 71 hits and a .341 average. Junior first baseman Wes Rea has slugged four home runs while senior third baseman Alex Detz has driven in 39 runs. Senior left fielder Derrick Armstrong is 13-of-15 on steal tries.

State’s pitching staff has compiled a 2.85 earned run average with 454 strikeouts and 177 walks in 499 innings. Their opponents are hitting .240 against them with 11 long balls.

Junior reliever Jacob Lindgren sports a team-low 0.96 ERA along with 87 strikeouts in 47 frames. Junior All-American closer Jonathan Holder has closed seven of Mississippi State’s 15 saves this season.

State will send junior southpaw Lucas Laster to the mound making his third start of the season. Laster has appeared in seven games but has not factored into a decision. He has a 1.52 earned run average with 17 strikeouts and four walks over 23.2 innings of work.

Laster’s two previous starts were against Ole Miss in the Governor’s Cup and at home against Jacksonville State.

UGA will counter with senior right-hander Dylan Cole (1-0, 4.72 ERA), who is also making his third start. Cole worked 1.1 scoreless innings of relief against Mississippi State earlier this season allowing a hit.

Georgia (26-28-1) has lost four of its last five outings and is making its first appearance in the SEC Tournament since the 2011 season.

Scott Stricklin’s squad is batting .256 with 13 homers and scoring 4.5 runs per game. UGA sports a .967 fielding percentage and are 42 of 60 on base thefts.

Junior third baseman Hunter Cole tops Georgia with a .327 batting average, 66 hits and three home runs. Junior shortstop Nelson Ward has collected 34 RBI while freshman centerfielder Stephen Wrenn is the leading base thief with 16 steals.

Junior relievers Grant Earls and Taylor Hicks both maintain flawless ERA’s while freshman right-hander Robert Tyler is the team leader with 64 strikeouts. Junior closer Jared Cheek has notched three of UGA’s five saves on the year.

The winner of tonight’s game will advance to play No. 4 seed South Carolina in the late game Wednesday.

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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