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College World Series Preview: MSU vs Auburn

Last updated: 06-18-2019

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College World Series Preview: MSU vs Auburn

Auburn will face Mississippi State in the College World Series. Gametime is set for 6:30 CT Sunday on ESPN2. This preview provides you with extensive details about the regional and the two teams.

Auburn Head Baseball Coach - This is Butch Thompson's 4th season as the head coach at Auburn.All four of his teams have advanced to regional play with the 2018 team advancing to a Super Regional. This year's team is the first to advance to the College World Series. In his first three seasons his teams were 103-82 overall and 39-51 in the SEC. In post-season NCAA play his teams have a 11-5 record, including 5-1 this season.

Mississippi State Head Baseball Coach - This is Chris Lemonis' first season as the head coach of Mississippi State. In his first year he has led his team to a 51-13 record and 20-10 in the SEC. His overall record is the best for a first-year SEC head baseball coach. He was the head coach at Indiana the past four seasons (2015-2018). Three of his four teams appeared in NCAA Regionals but none advanced to a Super Regional. His post-season NCAA record at Indiana was 3-6. Prior to becoming the head coach at Indiana, he was an assistant coach at The Citadel (12 years) and Louisville (eight years).

Auburn Players to Watch: Junior Conor Davis leads the team in hitting with a .287 batting average. He has seven home runs and 34 RBIs. Junior shortstop Will Holland, a 5th round selection in the 2019 Major League Baseball draft, is hitting .305 with seven home runs and 16 RBIs in the last 23 games. Sophomore right-hand pitcher Tanner Burns has been the workhorse starter for the Tigers, starting 15 games this season. He has a 4-3 record and a 2.73 ERA. Teams are hitting .212 against him.

Mississippi State Players to Watch: College Baseball Foundation National Pitcher of the Year/Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America All-American/SEC Pitcher of the year and 2019 Major League Baseball 1st round draft pick Ethan Small is Mississippi State's top starting pitcher. He is 10-2 with a 1.76 ERA. Teams are only hitting .164 against him. Collegiate Baseball Co-National Freshman Pitcher of The Year/Perfect Game National Freshman of the Year JT Ginn has been MSU's Saturday starting pitcher and has a 8-4 record with a 3.36 ERA. Senior center fielder Jake Mangum, a Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America All-American/First-Team All-SEC selection, set the all-time SEC career hits record this season. He was a 4th round draft pick in the recent Major League Baseball draft. He leads the team in hitting with a .355 batting average with one home run and 39 RBIs. Sophomore second baseman Justin Foscue, also a Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America All-American/First-Team All-SEC selection, is hitting .338 with 14 home runs and 59 RBIs. Sophomore first baseman Tanner Allen, another Collegiate Baseball All-American/First-Team All-SEC selection, is hitting .348 with seven home runs and 64 RBIs.

Auburn Starting Pitchers - The Tiger's three main starters the last couple of weeks are sophomore LHP Jack Owen (4-2, 2.83 ERA), sophomore RHP Tanner Burns (4-3, 2.73 ERA) and redshirt sophomore LHP Bailey Horn (4-1, 6.03 ERA).

Owen has thrown in 13 games, nine that were starts. In 63.2 innings he has allowed 21 runs (20 earned) on 58 hits and 11 walks while striking out 58. Owen did not pitch against MSU earlier in the season. After pitching well during the first half of the season, Owen has struggled in his last five games, allowing 17 earned runs in 25 innings, which is a 6.12 ERA.

Burns has appeared in 15 games, all starts. He has allowed 32 runs (24 earned) on 62 hits and 21 walks while striking out 100 in 79 innings. Burns threw against MSU in the team's series in Starkville. In 5 innings he allowed five runs on five hits and three walks while striking out four.

Horn has pitched in 17 games, four that were starts. He has allowed 24 runs (23 earned) on 31 hits and 17 walks while striking out 28 in 34.1 innings. Horn struggled against MSU in his one outing against them earlier in the season, giving up four runs (three earned) in 1.2 innings. He has pitched well of late, though, giving up three runs in 13.1 innings in his last three outings, which is a 2.03 ERA.

Anderson has thrown in 28 games, three that were starts. In 64 innings he has allowed 36 runs (30 earned) on 63 hits and 29 walks to go along with his 66 strikeouts. Against MSU this season he gave up five runs (four earned) in 3.1 innings in his two outings.

Mississippi State Starting Pitchers - The Bulldogs' three main starting pitchers are redshirt junior LHP Ethan Small (10-2, 1.76 ERA), freshman RHP JT Ginn (8-4, 3.36 ERA) and senior RHP Peyton Plumlee (7-4, 3.67 ERA).

Small has thrown in 17 games, allowing 23 runs (20 earned) on 58 hits and 29 walks while striking out 168 in 102 innings. Small, who throws in the 89 to 93 miles per hour range, faced Auburn earlier in the season and allowed two runs on three hits and three walks while striking out seven in six innings. He gave up two home runs in that game.

Ginn, has appeared in 16 games, allowing 35 runs (30 earned) on 69 hits and 18 walks while striking out 103 in 80.1 innings. Earlier in the season Ginn pitched against Auburn, giving up two runs on three hits and one walk while striking out five in 7 innings. Due to a little arm soreness, Ginn has not pitched since May 31st, but he is expected to pitch in the College World Series.

Plumlee, who was drafted in the 31st round of the recent MLB draft, has thrown in 20 games, 15 that were starts. In 81 innings he has given up 37 runs (33 earned) on 61 hits and 27 walks to go along with his 63 strikeouts.He didn't pitch against Auburn earlier in the season. Plumlee won the Starkville Super Regional championship game against Stanford, allowing one run on two hits and one walk while striking out six in 6.2 innings.

Greenhill, Auburn's closer, has appeared in 27 games, all in relief. in 56.2 innings he has given up 27 runs (22 earned) on 52 hits and 17 walks while striking out 43. Greenhill has struggled of late. In Regional and Super Regional play he has allowed four earned runs in 6.2 innings (5.40 ERA).

Watson has thrown in 23 games. In 39 innings he has given up 24 runs (22 earned) on 44 hits and 18 walks while striking out 39. Watson has pitched fairly well in the Regional and Super Regional games that he has appeared in, giving up two earned runs in 5.1 innings for a 3.38 ERA.

Fitts has 19 outings to his credit this season. In 57.1 innings he has given up 35 runs (all earned) on 73 hits and 16 walks while striking out 45. Fitts has had a tough time in the Regional and Super Regional games, giving up six earned runs in 11.1 innings for a 4.77 ERA.

Anderson has appeared in 28 games. In 64 innings he has allowed 36 runs (30 earned) on 63 hits and 29 walks while recording 66 strikeouts. Anderson has pitched well in his two NCAA post-season appearances, giving up one earned run in 5 innings (1.80 ERA).

Mississippi State Relief Pitching - The main relief pitchers for the Bulldogs have been graduate RHP Cole Gordon (3.76 ERA, 4-0, 11 Saves), senior RHP Jared Liebelt (2.79 ERA, 2-0, 5 S), junior RHP Colby White (3.16 ERA, 3-1, 0 S), redshirt junior LHP Trysten Barlow (5.25 ERA, 3-1, 0 S), freshman RHP Brandon Smith (3.93 ERA, 3-0, 0 S) and junior RHP Riley Self (4.81 ERA, 2-0, 0 S).

Gordon, who was drafted in the 32nd round of the recent Major League Baseball draft, has been Mississippi State's closer most of the season. In 28 games, all in relief, he has allowed 18 runs (17 earned) on 29 hits and 23 walks while striking out 65 in 40.2 innings. Beginning in May he has been very effective, giving up two earned runs in 17.1 innings (1.04 ERA). He struck out 29 during that span.

Liebelt, a 20th round selection in the draft, has been MSU's most consistently effective reliever this season. In 32 games he has allowed 23 runs (16 earned) on 53 hits and nine walks to go along with his 36 strikeouts in 51.2 innings. He hasn't been at his best his last six appearances, giving up nine runs (five earned) on 15 hits in 9.2 innings (4.65 ERA).

White, a 6th round selection in the MLB draft, is a hard-thrower, who consistently throws in the 93 to 99 miles per hour range, topping out at 100. In 26 games, all in relief, he has allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 16 hits and nine walks while striking out 47 in 25.2 innings. White, other than one outing where he gave up four runs in one inning against Georgia, has been extremely effective in April, May and June. Taking out that one game, he has appeared in 13 games, allowing no runs on four hits and seven walks while striking out 27 in 13.1 innings.

Barlow, a 16th round selection in the MLB draft, is a pitcher who throws in the 90-93 miles per range with a good breaking pitch. In 27 games this season, all in relief, he has allowed 15 runs (14 earned) on 20 hits and 12 walks while striking out 32 in 24 innings. A lefty match-up pitcher, Barlow has been streaky, especially in May and early June. He will be effective one game, then ineffective the next. In seven outings in May and June he has allowed five runs (all earned) on three hits and five walks while striking out five in 4 innings (11.25 ERA).

Smith has taken over the fourth starting spot for the Bulldogs.Appearing in 26 games this season, three that were starts, he has allowed 17 runs (16 earned) on 43 hits and six walks while striking out 31 in 36.2 innings.

Self has appeared in 21 games this season, all in relief. In 24.1 innings he has allowed 14 runs (13 earned) on 36 hits and seven walks while striking out 17. He has appeared in seven games in May and June, giving up seven runs (six earned) on 14 hits and four walks while striking out three in 7.2 innings (7.04 ERA).

Auburn Hitters - The Tigers have no players hitting over .300 for the season. They have four hitting .282 or better. Junior Conor Davis is hitting .287 with seven home runs and 34 RBIs, sophomore Judd Ward is hitting .283 with five home runs and 34 RBIs, freshman Ryan Bliss is also hitting .283 with three home runs and 37 RBIs, while junior Rankin Woley is hitting .282 with three home runs and 45 RBIs.

Mississippi State Hitters - The Bulldogs have eight players who are hitting over .300 this season. Senior Jake Mangum is hitting .355 with one home run and 39 RBIs. Sophomore Tanner Allen, a 34th round selection on the draft, is hitting .348 with seven home runs and 64 RBIs, sophomore Justin Foscue is batting .338 with 14 home runs and 59 RBIs, while junior Dustin Skelton, a 16th round selection in the draft, is hitting .316 with 10 home runs and 55 RBIs. Senior Marshall Gilbert, a 29th round selection in the draft who has become a starter at third base the second half of the season, is hitting .317 with five home runs and 16 RBIs. In limited action freshman Landon Jordan is hitting .328 with one home run and 11 RBIs, freshman Luke Hancock is hitting .326 with no home runs and 14 RBIs, while sophomore Josh Hatcher is hitting .327 with three home runs and 21 RBIs.

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