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2019 NCAA Super Regional Preview: Starkville

Mississippi State

Chris Lemonis

Postseason History: Ninth super regional appearance (fourth consecutive). Seeking 11th trip to Omaha and second consecutive.

Postseason Route: No. 1 seed in Starkville Regional. Went 3-0, defeating Miami, 5-2, in regional final.

Scouting Report (anonymous coach breaks down the Bulldogs)

“I just think they’re really balanced. They have length to their lineup, obviously Jake Mangum is the sparkplug up top. I felt like they were tough to strike out. I couldn’t prove it was a junior, senior or who’s got how many college at bats, but it’s just a really mature lineup. It’s not like there’s three guys in the middle with 15-plus home runs. There are a lot of guys that hit deep in the count that are tough to strike out.

“Then they’ve got two buzz saws. Ethan Small just throws the invisiball. It’s like 80, 90 percent fastballs. It’s like 90-91 and your guys just miss it. That dude’s pitching seven or eight innings on Friday night and then JT Ginn throws 95 mph sinkers. Peyton Plumlee’s an older guy that can move the ball around and throws a bunch of strikes and spins it. There’s enough out of the pen and those three starters have been great about pitching deep into the game. They’ve got enough pieces where they can go to this guy for two outs, this guy for three. And, by the way, you’ve got to beat them in Starkville.

“They’re good and they think they’re supposed to win. They’ve got all the postseason experience. As soon as the season started, they just knew they were going to Omaha because they were there last year and gosh they’ve got everyone back and they’ve got a first rounder. ‘Well, of course we’re going to Omaha.’ And they play like they’re supposed to win.

“(The environment at Dudy Noble is) tough. The game gets going awfully fast for kids and there’s nothing you can do to simulate it. I think Mississippi State and LSU fans both, they appreciate good baseball. It’s not so much they’re ragging on the other team as much as they love good baseball and they love their team. Those two places are tough places to close games out. It just gets going really fast for 20-year-old kids.

“The only knock on Jake Mangum—besides he’s not a huge power threat—he’s swinging the bat. He’s going to swing; he doesn’t walk a lot. He’s very aggressive and you have to be able to use that against him. Try to get him to swing at borderline pitches early in the count. Like any good older hitter, you’ve got to be able to move the ball around. It’s not like you can just stay in or stay hard or stay soft. You’ve got to change the way you attack him and hope he gets himself out some.

“Marshall Gilbert’s been a savior for them. Foscue is solid average. He’s not super rangy, he’s not super twitch, but the sticks in his glove. Jordan Westburg played pretty good this year. I would say they’re solid average defensively with Mangum and Rowdey Joran in the outfield being more of a strength defensively than the infield.”

CDustin Skelton, Jr.0.3080.3780.4982011050
1BTanner Allen, So.0.3500.4270.528254763
2BJustin Foscue, So.0.340.3990.592561458
3BMarshall Gilbert, Sr.0.3080.4260.487117516
SSJordan Westburg, So.0.2960.4090.465243659
LFJordan Rowdey, So.0.3020.3810.434235647
CFJake Mangum, Sr.0.3570.4150.468280131
RFElijah MacNamee, Sr.0.2890.4030.472187647
DHJosh Hatcher, So.0.323.3870.5196320
LHPEthan Small, R-Fr.921.8896271600
RHPJT Ginn, Fr.843.3680.1181030
RHPPeyton Plumlee, Sr.643.8774.126570
RPCole Gordan, R-Sr.403.9638.2236111
RPJared Liebelt, Sr.202.7449.19325


Coach: David Esquer

Postseason History: 10th super regional appearance (first since 2014). Seeking 17th trip to Omaha and first since 2008.

Postseason Route: No. 1 seed in Stanford Regional. Went 4-1, defeating Fresno State, 9-7, in regional final.

Scouting Report (anonymous coach breaks down the Cardinal)

“Just the physicality, the way those guys swing the bat, Kyle Stowers, Brandon Wulff, Andrew Dashbach. Maverick Handley for me gets a bad rap about not being totally offensive. That guy’s dangerous and he knows what he’s doing. I’d like to see guys catch as many innings as he does and hang in there. It takes a special guy like Adley Rutschman to hit like he does. But Maverick is catching every game and has caught every game for two years. You’ve got Nick Bellafronto, for me he’s an out but he can get you. If you make a mistake, he can get you. Tim Tawa’s in a similar boat. He’s a very athletic guy, you can pitch to him, but he can get you too. There’s some relief at the bottom end of that order but you’re going to have to wade through the top to middle 3-5 times a game and that’s stressful on pitchers.

“For me, Jack Little at the back end (of the bullpen) is a premium arm. It’s going to be glove side breaking balls, he’s going to miss with them, it’s going to be buried. And then it’s going to be a fastball attack. It’s got wiggle. Guys don’t always square him up and it’s a deceptive delivery. It’s almost like a rise ball. He’s very difficult to deal with and he’s been through the wars. When you’re digging in there you have to be ready for pretty good battle coming from him.

“They’ll match you up with their lefthanders and righthanders in the pen and coach Thomas Eager does a good job with managing their pitching and matchups. Those guys have taken on his personality in terms of his competitiveness and who he is as a competitor. That part I think has been a pretty significant step for just their mentality, and you can see it when you’re playing against them. If they can get in there and they’ve got pass the baton an inning at a time or two outs and an out, he’s trying to figure out how to get to Little and he’s not afraid to extend Little out for two innings or three innings or however he needs it to be. They’re trying to get the first one and then they’re dealing with Saturday and Sunday when it gets to that.

“I think Will Matthiessen for me kind of exceeded expectations. From last year to this year for me, he’s been a different guy in terms of his ability to run deep innings. For me he’s been probably the biggest pleasant surprise, at least from where I sit.

“They’re going to make you earn it, you’re not going to get a lot of gifts there. The other part where the field shrinks is Maverick. He blocks and retrieves as well as anybody else in the country. His athleticism with his body structure is off the charts. The way he manages that staff, he shrinks bases because you’re not getting a lot of free bases with passed balls or wild pitches because he’s doing a great job of limiting those opportunities. And when you’ve got to get three this to score a run against that staff and that defense, that’s a tall task.

“I think they’ll relish (playing in Starkville). I don’t think the road warrior mentality bothers them. I think they’ve had success on the road. Regardless of how it’s panned out for the Pac in the regionals so far, you still when you go on the road in our conference and you win on the road, you’re doing some things right. I don’t think that’ll be an issue for them.”

CMaverick Handley, Jr.0.2930.3990.451215524
1BAndrew Daschbach, Jr.0.3000.3960.6262031745
2BDuke Kinamon, R-Jr.0.3090.3520.478178632
3BNick Bellafronto, R-Jr.0.2700.3980.516126632
SSTim Tawa, So.0.2480.2790.410210837
LFKyle Stowers, Jr.0.3050.3710.519210838
CFChristian Robinson, So.0.2870.3920.376101014
RFBrandon Wulff, Sr.0.2700.3920.5902001942
DHWill Matthiessen, Jr.0.3220.3990.5532081252
RHPBrendan Beck, So.533.2588.222810
LHPErik Miller, Jr.823.158042970
RHPWill Matthiessen, Jr.623.7153.119551
RPJack Little, Jr.323.3238115012
RPAustin Weiermiller, So.602.5132.116412
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