No. 3 Vanderbilt vs. No. 16 Mississippi State
Friday (6:30 p.m.)
LHP Kevin Ziomek (7-2, 2.20) vs. LHP Luis Pollorena (6-1, 3.38)
Saturday (12 p.m., TV: CSS)
RHP Tyler Beede (10-0, 1.51) vs. RHP Kendall Graveman (5-3, 2.06)
Sunday (1 p.m.)
RHP T.J. Pecoraro (1-1, 4.72) vs. LHP Jacob Lindgren (4-1, 2.54)
Last week No. 3 ranked Vanderbilt (33-6, 16-2 SEC) lost a close midweek game to Tennessee Tech (10-9) and then won two of three of a series at Georgia. This week Vandy trounced a ranked Louisville team 10-2 on Tuesday night on the road. The Commodores have won 10 straight series to start the season and 14 straight dating back to last season. Vanderbilt will now face perhaps its biggest test of the season when it hosts No. 10 Mississippi State for a 3-game series. Last season State defeated Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament Championship game in Hoover, Alabama.
Tony Kemp (.387, 25 RBIs) is fifth in the SEC in batting and has 19 career triples. He leads the SEC in stolen bases with 22. Conrad Gregor (.279, 27 RBIs) is third in the SEC in stolen bases with 14. Commodore freshman Xavier Turner is riding a 14-game hitting streak. Turner has batted .344 during the streak. Right fielder Mike Yastrzemski (.327, 28 RBIs) had 3 RBIs in Tuesday's win over Louisville. Vince Conde (.315, 33 RBIs) had two hits including a home run in the win over the Cardinals. Connor Harrell (.321, 52 RBIs) leads the team in home runs with 8. Jack Lupo (.310, 18 RBIs) has six homers, second best on the team. Designated hitter Xander Wiel (.316, 8 RBIs) has three home runs over the past week and currently has the most bases gained in a game this year in the SEC with 10 in Saturday's win over the Bulldogs.
His past few starts Kevin Ziomek hasn't been at his best, however, he's pitched well enough to win. Last week at Georgia Ziomek pitched eight innings and allowed four hits and four walks but only managed four strikeouts. Ziomek, who often strikes out batters in the double digit numbers during games, still could have picked up the victory had 11 runners not been left on base.
Saturday's starter, sophomore Tyler Beede, was recently selected to the Team USA roster for this summer. Beede (10-0) has a 1.51 ERA and has 67 strikeouts in 65.2 innings pitched. Conference batters have managed only .163 average against Beede, which is the best of any pitcher in the SEC. Last week in a 15-4 Commodore victory Beede struck out seven while allowing seven hits in seven innings of work.
T.J. Pecoraro has been giving Vandy some solid innings and working his way back into the weekend staff after recovering from an injury. On Sunday at Georgia Pec struck out two while allowing five hits and a walk in 4.1 innings of work. He allowed only one earned run in the Commodore win. Opponents are batting just .211 against Pecoraro.
Closer Brian Miller (0.72 ERA) can break the Vanderbilt record for saves if he gets one against Mississippi State. The righty has 11 saves already this season to go along with his 34 strikeouts against just five walks allowed.
Vanderbilt as a team is batting .315 compared to its opponent's BA of .211. The Commodores pitching staff has a 2.62 ERA while Vandy's opponents have a 6.86 ERA versus the Commodores.
ABOUT MISSISSIPPI STATE
Mississippi State (33-10, 10-8 SEC) is on a 3-game winning streak. Last weekend the Bulldogs fell to Auburn on Friday night 3-1 but then defeated the Tigers in a second Friday night contest that was actually a continuation of a rain suspended Thursday contest. On Saturday State won 6-0 to claim a series victory. Earlier in the season MSU swept Texas A&M on the road and, like Vandy, took two of three from Florida at home. The Bulldogs have dropped conference series (all 2 games to 1) on the road at Arkansas, LSU and Kentucky.
Junior Hunter Renfro (.410, 45 RBIs) leads the Bulldog batters. Renfro is 6-for-18 over the last four games and leads the team in home runs with 14. Adam Frazier (.347, 20 RBIs) leads the Bulldogs in triples with five. Sophomore first baseman Wes Rea is the hottest Bulldog bat of late. He is .310 on the season but over the past four games is batting .467 (7-for-15) with 5 RBIs. Rea is also second on the team in homers with four. Adam Detz (.299, 1 HR) is second on the team in RBIs with 26. Derrick Armstrong (.308, 8 RBIs) hasn't seen many starts for the Bulldogs but is batting .375 over the past four games.
Mississippi State has a fine pitching staff and is second in the SEC in team ERA (2.34) behind Arkansas and first in the conference strikeouts with 359.
On Friday Vandy's Kevin Ziomek is scheduled to face MSU lefty Luis Pollorena of Mississippi State. In his last outing on the rained shortened Thursday contest, Pollorena allowed 5 hits and 3 earned runs in 3.1 innings on the mound. On Saturday Vandy's Beede will be on the mound against RHP Kendall Graveman (5-3, 2.06). In Friday's loss to Auburn Graveman struck out seven batters and allowed five hits but no runs in seven innings of work. Graveman was drafted in the 36th round by the Marlins in the 2012 MLB draft. T.J. Pecoraro on Sunday will duel with State lefty Jacob Lindgren who struck out 11 batters while walking just two in Saturday's win over Auburn. Lindgren, who was drafted in the 12th round by the Chicago Cubs in the 2011 MLB draft, has a fastball that runs into the low 90s. Jonathan Holder (1-0, 1.61 ERA), who has 12 saves, is the Bulldog's closer. Holder is a great one and has struck out 52 batters in 28 innings of work while walking just seven.
Mississippi State as a team bats .298 while opposing teams have a .211 average versus the Bulldogs. Mississippi State's pitchers have an overall 2.34 ERA while opponents have a 5.99 ERA versus the Bulldogs.
EAST CONF GB ALL
VAN 16-2 - 35-6
USC 11-7 5 31-11
FLA 10-8 6 23-19
KEN 7-11 9 24-16
TEN 5-13 11 17-22
MIZ 5-13 11 13-23
GEO 4-14 12 16-26
WEST CONF GB ALL
LSU 15-3 - 38-4
ARK 11-7 4 27-15
MSU 10-8 5 33-10
OLM 10-8 5 30-12
ALA 9-9 6 25-18
TAM 7-11 8 22-20
AUB 6-12 9 24-16
SEC THIS WEEK
Mississippi State @ Vanderbilt
South Carolina @ LSU
Tennessee @ Florida
Auburn @ Missouri
Arkansas @ Georgia
Kentucky @ Ole Miss
Texas A&M @ Alabama
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