Georgia Tech-MSU Pregame: Regional on the Line

Previewing today’s NCAA Regional game between No. 1 seed Georgia Tech (42-20) and No. 3 seed Mississippi State (36-23). The game starts at 6 p.m. CST and will be televised by CSS.

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ATLANTA | Mississippi State gets two chances to make the unexpected happen. Junior left-hander Nick Routt (2-3, 4.15 ERA) will take the mound for the Bulldogs as they try to knock off the No. 12-ranked Yellow Jackets at Russ Chandler Stadium.

Tech advanced by beating Austin Peay in today’s first game, 12-2. MSU, which has gotten this far by beating Southern Miss and Austin Peay, has two chances to win the regional. It’s a double-elimination tournament, of course, so if Tech wins tonight, the teams will face off again at 6 p.m. Monday.

Winning three games in two days isn’t easy, and it’s a pretty rare occurence. So MSU starts out with an edge.

MSU will be the home team tonight, by virtue of having been the home team once so far this weekend to Tech’s two times.

So how has Routt pitched lately? In his last two outings, he’s given up 10 runs – four of them earned – in six innings. His last start was against Arkansas in the SEC Tournament, where he allowed five runs (three earned) on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings. MSU was eliminated from the tournament with a 7-2 loss.

Seven of Routt’s 11 starts this season have lasted fewer than four innings.

Georgia Tech will start freshman right-hander DeAndre Smelter (2-0, 0.00). The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder tossed 15 innings in 13 appearances, allowing six runs (all unearned) on 10 hits, with eight strikeouts and nine walks. So, yes, this is his first career start.

But Smelter is a highly touted athlete who also plays in the outfield, and he’s batting .222 with seven RBIs in 45 at-bats. The Twins drafted him in the 14th round last summer. At Tattnall Square Academy in Macon, Ga., he was a three-star linebacker (per Scout.com) who received football offers from several SEC schools.

This is the 11th meeting between MSU and Georgia Tech, and State leads the series 7-3. The last meeting was 1997. The Bulldogs were here for a regional in 2004 but did not face the Jackets, going 1-2.