Previewing today's Super Regional Game 2 between Mississippi State (37-24) and Florida (49-16) at McKethan Stadium. Today's game begins at 11 a.m. Central time and can be watched on ESPN and ESPN3.com.
GAINESVILLE | Nick Routt takes the mound today with Mississippi State's hopes resting on his shoulders. After winning 11-1 yesterday, Florida can end the Bulldogs' postseason run and clinch a spot in the College World Series field by winning today, but first it must get past Routt (3-3, 3.78 ERA), who's been pretty good lately.
Just six days ago he tossed a complete game, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits in MSU's NCAA Regional-clinching win over Georgia Tech. Routt's eager to get back on the hill.
"I feel great," he said. "I think I've had five days of rest now. Big league pitchers only get four. My body feels good, my arm's ready to go. Obviously going out there, I'm not going to be trying to throw a complete game. I usually try to take it inning by inning."
The Bulldogs as a whole are trying to not let the weight of the moment crush them. To them, this is just another SEC weekend series. They do, of course, understand what's at stake.
It's a delicate balancing act of seeking a sense of normalcy and playing at a heightened level. Don't break out the "sense of urgency" cliché, though, because coach John Cohen has said before that his team plays every game with a sense of urgency.
Routt said he's not going to have elimination on the brain today.
"I'm just going to treat it like any other game and go out there and compete my (butt) off and get strike one," he said, "and hopefully the defense will be solid behind me, and our hitters will be hitting the ball, and we'll get a win and keep playing."
As I wrote in the story linked above, Routt had a strong outing last time he faced Florida, and he did it with basically one pitch – his fastball. It was a 3-1 Gators win in Starkville, with freshman Karsten Whitson (8-0, 2.42) getting the win. Whitson will match up with Routt again today.
Cohen considered starting Routt in Game 1 but decided he could use the extra day of rest. He's got high expectations for the junior left-hander.
"I'll be shocked if he doesn't throw well (today)," Cohen said. "His preparation was very good this week."