Last night, the Vanderbilt Commodores (46-11) coasted to an eight-inning, 11-1, mercy-rule win over the Auburn Tigers.
Mississippi State needed 17 innings to finally get past LSU. The extremely late ending last night — really, early this morning — probably works to the Commodores’ advantage tonight; Mississippi State had to use seven pitchers in its first game of the tournament. Vanderbilt used two: normal midweek starter Mason Hickman, and relatively little-used Jake Eder. For all intents and purposes, Vanderbilt is going into tonight’s game with its normal weekend pitching staff all set, and that starts with Drake Fellows, the Friday night starter in the regular season.
Mississippi State will go with Ethan Small, the SEC Pitcher of the Year. He’d better be ready to get through a few innings, because after last night the Bulldogs probably don’t want to get into the bullpen early. That will, of course, be a challenge against the Vanderbilt offense.
Vanderbilt and Mississippi State did not meet in the regular season; the last time these two met was in last year’s Nashville Super Regional, won by the Bulldogs in dramatic fashion. It looks like tonight’s game will actually get started a bit ahead of schedule; originally set for 8:00 PM CT, the SEC Network (which is televising the game) indicated after the Arkansas-Georgia game that tonight’s game will start at 7:40.