MSU-Arkansas Pregame: Facing Elimination

HOOVER | Mississippi State didn’t come here just to leave early, so it’s going to have to recover quickly from Wednesday’s 7-5 loss to Florida. Weather permitting, the sixth-seeded Bulldogs (34-22) play No. 2 seed Arkansas (36-19) at 9:30 a.m. today at Regions Park in an SEC Tournament elimination game.

State is a pretty safe bet to earn an NCAA Regional bid on Monday, and a quick exit from the SEC Tournament shouldn’t affect that, except for maybe dropping the Bulldogs from a two seed to a three seed at whatever destination awaits them. Arkansas, however, is projected by some to host a regional, and losing today’s elimination game could damage those chances.

The Bulldogs brushed aside NCAA talk after yesterday’s loss. They were more worried about bouncing back for today’s game and sticking around a little longer.

“We’re still trying to win this SEC Tournament,” senior Nick Vickerson said. “We haven’t even really thought about the NCAA tournament yet.”

And the Bulldogs don’t plan on thinking about it until their time in Hoover is finished. They get an Arkansas team that won the crowded Western Division outright but fell to Alabama yesterday, 7-4. MSU will send lefty Nick Routt (2-2, 3.83 ERA) to the mound against Arkansas right-hander D.J. Baxendale (8-2, 1.62).

Today is the only focus for MSU, coach John Cohen said.

“The minute I walked on that campus and accepted a team that was 23-33, there was a sense of urgency. Yes, there will always be a sense of urgency. At practice, there’s a sense of urgency. At BP tomorrow, there will be a sense of urgency, I can guarantee you.”