Today, you will be bombarded with baseball info, like the fact that MSU is back in the Baseball America top 25 rankings this week, at No. 24. And Arkansas, the Bulldogs’ first-round opponent in the SEC Tournament, slid in at No. 25 (CLICK HERE for the rankings).
State (34-21) is coming off a sweep of Kentucky, which fell seven spots to No. 11.
Anyway, we just got off the SEC Tournament coaches teleconference, and everybody wants to know who the starting pitchers are going to be when the Bulldogs and Hogs meet Tuesday at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala. MSU coach John Cohen mentioned three candidates, in this order: freshman right-hander Brandon Woodruff (0-2, 3.46 ERA), junior left-hander Luis Pollorena (4-0, 1.50) and sophomore righty Ben Bracewell (0-0, 0.63).
Bracewell is an intriguing possibility. A Friday night starter earlier in the season, he’s been battling a bum elbow and hasn’t made a start since March 2, and he has only three relief appearances since then. Cohen said a decision on the starter will come later today.
As for Arkansas (39-17), coach Dave Van Horn really hopes to throw sophomore righty Ryne Stanek (6-3, 2.96), who took a line drive off his right shoulder in the first inning of Friday’s win over Tennessee. If it’s not Stanek, then it’ll be another sophomore right-hander, Brandon Moore (4-2, 2.77).
“As of right now, Stanek does feel pretty good,” Van Horn said. “We’ll probably look at him again and play a little catch, see what happens. I’d say it’s either Stanek or Moore right now. We’re leaning towards Stanek.”
We’re going to hear more from Cohen (and players) in just a bit as the assembled media gathers on campus this morning for a press conference. Until then, a few more tidbits from the head coach.
• On confidence level after sweeping UK: “Sweeps are so rare in the Southeastern Conference, it makes it feel like you’re on a little bit of a roll, because it doesn’t matter who you’re playing, you have to have some good fortune. When things are going your way, you feel more confident.”
• On whether Kentucky is reeling: “When you have so many teams that are so close in so many ways, there’s a hop here, there’s a bang-bang play at a base, it can go either way. I’ve been on both sides of it, so I don’t think this weekend diminishes what Kentucky has done this year at all.”
• On the new 10-team SEC Tournament format: “The SEC has made great decisions in terms of doing this format. I don’t think any of us – I’m speaking for other coaches – but I don’t think anybody regrets not having a practice day today or having to play on Tuesday. It’s a great opportunity in the long term. It makes so much sense for every program in this league.”