Cannizaro

Andy Cannizaro had Mississippi State's head coach office remodeled earlier this year. 

Starting nine

1. 2B Hunter Stovall

.300/.359/.387, 2 HRs, 18 RBIs

Stovall is State’s most athletic defender. He rebounded from an arm injury midseason and began batting leadoff during the regional.

2. 1B Brent Rooker

.395/.498/.827, 23 HRs, 82 RBIs

This fourth-year junior is on pace to be the first player since 1984 to lead the SEC in average, RBIs and home runs.

3. SS Ryan Gridley

.331/.393/.464, 6 HRs, 39 RBIs

An All-SEC shortstop, Gridley surged this season at the plate, jumping from a bottom-of-the-order guy to someone the Bulldogs count on.

4. 3B Cody Brown

.321/.427/.538, 9 HRs, 40 RBIs

Brown is State's utility guy. He has started in the outfield and first base and was the Hattiesburg regional MVP.

5. CF Jake Mangum

.327/.380/.390, 14 SBs, 24 RBIs

SEC Freshman of the Year last season, Mangum battled wrist injuries and was the Bulldogs’ No. 3 pitcher in the early part of the season.

6. LF Elijah MacNamee

.267/.317/.349, 2 HRs, 21 RBIs

A junior-college transfer, MacNamee was inserted into the lineup late in the year and has become a clutch hitter.

7. RF Hunter Vansau

.315/.392/.378, 0 HRs, 14 RBIs

Vansau is a strong outfielder, making an assortment of defensive plays, including robbing home runs and reaching balls in the gap.

8. C Josh Lovelady

.223/.311/.299, 1 HR, 21 RBIs

The soul of the team, some say, Lovelady is a fifth-year senior who has rebounded from ACL surgery last year.

9. DH Cole Gordon

.170/.274/.340, 3 HRs, 9 RBIs

He began the season as a first baseman and then developed into one of State’s top pitchers. He has some power.

Top arm (and Saturday's starter): LHP Konnor Pilkington

W-L: 8-5

ERA: 3.26

IP: 102.0

K/BB: 107/43

Pilkington is the ace of a staff that’s down about eight starters to injury. Invited to join Team USA this summer, the sophomore has logged 30 more innings than the next State pitcher. Perfect Game has him as its sixth-ranked sophomore in college baseball. Opponents are batting just .198 against the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder. His outing Saturday is crucial for the Bulldogs, who don’t have many more arms capable of going deep in a game.

No. 2 pitcher: RHP Jacob Billingsley (2-3, 4.44)

The longest the junior had gone in his career was five innings ... before he threw a complete game to keep the Bulldogs alive in the regional.

No. 3 pitcher: RHP Denver McQuary (3-3, 4.67)

The freshman has good stuff, but he has struggled at times with his command. He has walked more than he has struck out (47 to 40). 

Closer: RHP Riley Self (3.59, 5-1)

A freshman who has pitched like a veteran, Self has struck out 60 in 47.2 innings this season, picking up eight saves.

Other bullpen arms: RHP Spencer Price (4-1, 2.41), RHP Peyton Plumlee (6-1, 3.61), RHP Trey Jolly​ (3-1, 6.83)

By the numbers

145th — That’s the Bulldogs’ national rank in ERA. They’re 12th in the SEC — only above Alabama and Georgia.

.981 — State’s fielding percentage is eighth nationally and first in the SEC, a touch better than LSU’s .980 mark.

344 — That’s the number of walks State pitchers have issued. It’s the most in the SEC — by far. The next closest is Alabama at 260.

1st — First baseman Brent Rooker’s national ranking in three key offensive categories: RBIs (82), slugging percentage (.827) and doubles (30).

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.