HOOVER, Ala. • There is not much left for No. 3 Mississippi State to prove this week at the SEC Baseball Tournament.
The Co-Western Division champions currently have the fourth-best RPI in the country and D1Baseball.com believes the Bulldogs have essentially locked up a national seed in next week’s NCAA Tournament.
However, just because the postseason outlook appears great does not mean MSU is headed to Hoover Metropolitan Stadium waving a white flag this week.
“We want to play good baseball,” said MSU coach Chris Lemonis. “You don’t want to not play well and then go into a regional not feeling good about yourself. We feel pretty good where we’re at but we’re not going to mismanage pitching or anything like that to win it. But we’re going to go in and try to play our best.”
The Diamond Dogs (45-11) are the No. 4 seed in the SEC Tournament and play the late game tonight at approximately 8 p.m. on SEC Network. Mississippi State will meet No. 5 seed LSU, who rallied from a 5-1 deficit to defeat No. 12 seed South Carolina 8-6 late Tuesday night.
The Bulldogs lost their home series with LSU in late March and own a 9-9 record against LSU at the SEC Tournament.
MSU is 80-60 all-time at the SEC Tournament and has won it seven times, with the last title coming in 2012. The Diamond Dogs lost their lone game in Hoover last year to LSU, 8-5.
“It’s one of the biggest competitions as far as tournaments go,” said MSU third baseman Marshall Gilbert. “It really gives you a glimpse at what the postseason is going to be like playing that many games in a short amount of time and not knowing game times. It’s the most competitive league in the country and it’s only going to make us better.”
MSU enters the SEC Tournament hitting .321 as a team and ranks No. 2 nationally with 141 doubles. The Bulldogs have 11 batters batting over .300, eight of which have started 20 or more games.
Mississippi State’s pitching staff has compiled a 3.51 ERA and have held opponents to a .225 batting average. Those hurlers have struck out 602 and only walked 184 in 497 innings of work this season.