Who: LSU (36-17, 18-9 Southeastern Conference) at Mississippi State (34-19, 17-10)
When: 6 p.m.
Where: Dudy Noble Field, Starkville, Miss.
TV: SEC Network
Radio: WDGL-FM 98.1; WWL-AM, 870
Rankings: LSU is ranked No. 10 by Baseball America, Mississippi State is ranked No. 11 by Baseball America
Thursday’s likely starters
LSU – Jr. RHP Alex Lange (6-5, 2.92 ERA, 83.1 IP, 28 BB, 100 K)
MSU – So. LHP Konnor Pilkington (6-4. 3.44, 81 IP, 35 BB, 91 K)
What to watch for: When asked, LSU coach Paul Mainieri said it’s not that big of a deal that Mississipi State coach Andy Cannizaro possesses fairly intimate knowledge about the players on his team, though the true answer to that question should play out this weekend. One bit of Cannizaro knowledge that might work in LSU’s favor though is his understanding of how well LSU catcher Michael Papierski can control the running game. Cannizaro, who was a great base stealer during his college days at Tulane, is known for his aggressive approach on the base paths, but it has only worked out with varying degrees of success at MSU this season. The Bulldogs have successfully stolen on 66 of 98 attempts overall, but have only been successful on 18 of 35 tries in the SEC. Papierski has thrown out nearly 40 percent of those attempting to steal against him.
On the Bulldogs: The Bulldogs will send their true ace to the mound Thursday against LSU. Left-hander Konnor Pilkington has had an impressive sophomore campaign so far, striking out more than a batter per inning and limiting opponents to a less than .200 batting average. But he’s been hittable at times, especially in the latter portion of this year. Alabama scored five runs against him and knocked him out of the game in the sixth inning. Two weeks later, Texas A&M brought seven runs home against him and knocked him out in the fourth. LSU is also one of the SEC’s better hitting teams against left-handers (.308). MSU has been racked with injuries to its pitching staff this season, and Pilkington is the only member of the staff with more than 60 innings pitched this season.