In a season where Mississippi State has gotten the job done with a prolific lineup, it was the Bulldog’s pitching staffing that got it done in their 2-1 College World Series opening win over the Texas Longhorns. Will Bednar was incredible pitching six innings of one-hit, scoreless ball while striking out 15 Longhorns. Behind him was Landon Sims, MSU’s Second Team All-ACC closer who shut things down pitching three innings and only giving up one run while racking up six Ks. On the evening, the two combined for an incredible 21 strikeouts. The question for the Bulldogs is whether or not Sims will be ready to go again on Tuesday? On three occasions this season, Sims pitched with one day in between outings. In each of those instances, he threw no more than 33 pitches in his first outing while he threw 52 in his outing on Sunday. Chances are, the Hoos won’t see Sims, but with extra rest between games in Omaha, stranger things have happened. So what will Mississippi State have behind Bednar and Sims? Let’s check it out.
As a team, the Bulldogs tallied a 4.00 ERA, good for fifth in the SEC. They were tops in the league in strikeouts, a feat made more impressive in a league with Vanderbilt’s Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter.
Christian MacLeod will be getting the start on the bump. He’s been their second starter all season and in 17 starts has a record of 6-5 and 4.24 ERA. MacLeod has racked up 113 Ks in just over 80 innings, a K per nine innings rate of 12.61 (24th in the country and not far behind Andrew Abbott). Teams can get to him however as he’s only pitched past the fifth inning in four of his 17 starts. So far in the postseason, he’s 1-2 with a 9.21 ERA. He got the win over VCU, but was tagged in losses to Tennessee (in the SEC Tournament) and Notre Dame (in the Super Regionals).
Should MacLeod get into trouble early, the Bulldogs could turn to Houston Harding. Harding got the start in the deciding game three of Super Regionals, but otherwise is the Bulldogs’ long reliever. He’s gone three or more innings in five of his 13 appearances out of the bullpen, three of those going 5+. He has a 7-2 record with a 2.87 ERA and opponents are only batting .221 off of him.
After Harding (or if they’re saving Harding for a start), also getting some run in the NCAA postseason is Preston Johnson having thrown 4.1 innings spread across three appearances. Johnson is 3-0 on the season with a 4.44 ERA. He’s very effective for an inning or two at a time with hitters batting .218 against him. Next up and a potential back end of the bullpen option is Brandon Smith. Smith pitched 35.2 innings in 19 appearances and owns a 4.29 ERA and 4-3 record with one save. He pitches to contact, with only 10 walks allowed on the year. If not Smith, keep an eye on Parker Stinnett. The junior right hander only appeared in 15 games, but if they need a shutdown inning, he’s their guy. On the year, opponents are batting only .086 against him and he’s compiled 30 Ks in just 17.1 innings (15.58 Ks per nine innings).
First pitch is at 7 PM and will be on ESPN2. For a look at the Mississippi State lineup, check this out. And stay with Streaking the Lawn as we bring you all the College World Series content you crave.