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SEC Tournament Gameday: MSU v Arkansas pre-game


David Miller



Southeastern Conference Tournament at Regions Park (Hoover, Ala.) 


---GAME 5 (Elimination Game): No. 6 Mississippi State (34-22) v No. 2 Arkansas (36-19). 


Bulldogs lost 7-5 to Florida on Wednesday; Razorbacks lost 7-4 to Alabama. 


Arkansas won season series 2-1 in Fayetteville 




---MSU starting pitcher: Junior lefty Nick Routt (2-2, 3.83 ERA) will pitch today''s game versus the Razorbacks. Routt lost his start at Fayetteville this season, giving up six earned runs on eight hits in three innings. Pitched 2 2/3 innings in MSU''s only win in the LSU series, giving up one earned run, four unearned on five hits. He struck out five and walked two. Routt hasn''t given up more than five hits in an outing in his last five games. The last time he did was against Arkansas, when he gave up eight. 




---Arkansas starting pitcher: DJ Baxendale (8-2, 1.62 ERA) is the hands-down ace of the Razorbacks staff, and today will mark the first time the Bulldogs will have faced him this season. The sophomore had a penny-sized blister that had ripped open on multiple occasions and forced him to miss a start against the Bulldogs and leave in the first inning of a start against Kentucky. He''s been the anchor of the Arkansas rotation, leading the team in innings pitched, batting average and ERA. He''s also done relief work and closed a couple of games this season.  




---The sense of urgency 




After Mississippi State''s 7-5 loss to Florida, it might have been easy to be shook from a defeat in which it led 5-2 in the seventh inning.  


The "clutch" factor on the mound, where Cohen said the team had been strongest in the last three innings during the season, escaped at the worst moment. 


Now, it''s do-or-die if the Bulldogs want to stay in Hoover and make their first SEC tournament appearance since 2007 a memorable one.  


"This is our 56th game, and I can''t think of a game where we didn''t have a sense of urgency," MSU coach John Cohen said. "That''s who we are. We haven''t been in the SEC tournament in three years. Urgency, that''s my middle name. And that''s what we recruit: urgency. The minute I walked on campus and inherited a team that was 22 and 30, or whatever it was, there was a sense of urgency. Yes, there will always be a sense of urgency. At practice yesterday, there was a sense of urgency. At BP tomorrow, there will be a sense of urgency, I can guarantee you." 


So yeah, there will be a sense of urgency in the Bulldogs as they prepare to face yet another dominant SEC pitcher (Baxendale) a day after they managed seven hits and left seven runners stranded. 


The Bulldogs could use a lift from their seniors, four of whom went hitless, and as a group accounted for 11 of the team''s 12 strikeouts.  


MSU''s leading hitter Jarrod Parks is now 4-of-26 in his last nine games.



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