Bulldogs turn to Rebs for help|[5/20/05]

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 20, 2005

It’s not often, but for one weekend Mississippi State baseball faithful may belt out a rendition of “Hotty Toddy.”

The Bulldogs are fighting for a chance at making the eight-team Southeastern Conference Tournament and need not only a good showing at LSU, but must also hope Ole Miss takes care of Arkansas.

As it stands, Mississippi State is a half-game behind Arkansas for fourth place. The Rebels, who will play at Arkansas, have virtually guaranteed themselves a spot in the tournament. Ole Miss is tied with Alabama in second place, one game behind LSU.

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“There will be a lot of scoreboard watching for sure,” MSU coach Ron Polk said.

Mississippi State (35-18, 12-14 SEC) will not have an easy road, though, as it hosts West-leading LSU in the final conference series of the season. The Tigers are 9-3 on the road in the SEC this year and will throw a trio of left-handed pitchers at MSU.

“By their record, they play much better on the road in the SEC, and I wish it was different,” Polk said.

If Mississippi State and Arkansas (37-15, 13-14) end up tied, the Bulldogs would overtake Arkansas because they beat UA twice this season.

“Everyone is playing for different reasons,” Mississippi State coach Ron Polk said. “Some are playing for a ring, Some are playing to win the East or the West and others, like us, are playing for a chance at making the SEC Tournament.”

Mississippi State is scheduled to start senior Alan Johnson tonight. He carries a 3-6 record with a 4.93 ERA. Senior Todd Doolittle is scheduled to pitch on Saturday and sophomore Jon Crosby is slated to pitch on Sunday.

They will face an LSU squad that has won five of its last seven games. The Tigers are led by Ryan Patterson, who’s hitting .395 with 19 home runs, and Nick Stavinoha, who has hit 17 home runs and also has 20 doubles.

Southern Miss, which has secured a berth in the Conference USA Tournament already, will conclude the season at Houston. The Eagles won the first game of the series on Thursday, 10-5.

The Golden Eagles (37-16, 18-9) are currently in third place in the race behind top-ranked Tulane and Texas Christian. Tulane has already wrapped up the C-USA title and will play TCU in a three-game series this weekend.

Southern Miss could end up as the second seed, which would put it on the opposite side of the bracket as Tulane.