Everyone knows what's coming.
In just a few days, No. 4 Mississippi State opens up a weekend series at No. 2 Vanderbilt where the Bulldogs will face off with a pair of the country's top pitchers in Commodore hurlers Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter. Runs will likely be at a premium. MSU would do well to have its offense clicking on all cylinders before getting to Nashville on Friday and in the final tuneup, the Bulldog lineup sure looked locked in.
State battered UAB 19-7 on Tuesday night in a midweek affair at Dudy Noble Field. The Bulldogs notched 17 hits, had a pair of home runs and scored in all but two innings in which they came to the plate.
Logan Tanner had a three-hit night for MSU, including a homer and five RBIs and Luke Hancock had a couple of hits and three runs driven in to set the tone for the Bulldog offense. Scotty Dubrule had a three-hit night of his own and Tanner Leggett connected for his first career home run in the rout.
Meanwhile 10 MSU pitchers got work as State cruised towards the win. The Blazers found success against a few of those Bulldog arms, putting together three-run rallies in the second and fifth innings, but with MSU scoring itself in each of the first five frames, State led from the first inning on.
But just how much will all the MSU offense from Tuesday carry over against Rocker, Leiter and the like here in a few days? That remains to be seen. But if nothing else, Tuesday ensured that when first pitch is thrown on Friday, the Bulldogs should at least start out feeling good about themselves at the plate.
"We all pitched in with a few hits here and there," Hancock said. "It’s a great feeling going into Vandy this weekend."
The Tuesday victory improved MSU to 28-8 overall this season and State has now won 11 of its last 12 games.
(YOU CAN WATCH LUKE HANCOCK'S FULL POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE WITH THE VIDEO AT THE TOP OF THIS PAGE. YOU CAN WATCH MSU HEAD COACH CHRIS LEMONIS' FULL POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE BY CLICKING HERE.)
Alright, let's take a look at the numbers, game MVPs and Moment of the Game:
UAB at Mississippi State boxscore
MSU Offensive MVP: DH Logan Tanner
Tanner was locked in on Tuesday. MSU's starting catcher on the weekends served as the designated hitter against UAB and focusing on just his bat, he did plenty of damage with a 3-for-4 performance including a home run, two doubles and five RBIs.
"He’s got a lot of power," MSU head coach Chris Lemonis said of Tanner. "He’s starting to tap into how to use it...He had big hits all night long."
MSU Pitching MVP: RP Eric Cerantola
Eric Cerantola threw as impressive of an inning of relief as you'll ever see on Tuesday. The big, Canadian right-hander struck out the side in order in the ninth inning to lock down the win for Mississippi State. Cerantola's outing was so impressive in fact that it deserves to be talked about a little more as the...
Moment of the Game: Cerantola shines
It's not often that a relief appearance in a 12-run game is all that noteworthy. But that's just how outstanding Cerantola looked on Tuesday.
Three up. Three down. Three strikeouts. And maybe the biggest numbers of them all? Cerantola threw 14 pitches and 12 of them were strikes.
This is a guy that essentially lost his weekend rotation spot primarily because of an inability to throw strikes. Yet here the flamethrower was pumping the ball in the zone and UAB had absolutely no chance.
We'll see what it means going forward. But there's no doubt that if Cerantola has a few more outings like Tuesdays in his tank, he could be an extremely intriguing option out of the MSU bullpen in the back half of this season.
"I liked him a lot (Tuesday)," Lemonis said of Cerantola. "I felt like he commanded. It’s not hard when it’s 97-98 (miles per hour) and he’s throwing strikes. When he’s landing that breaking ball, he’s one of the better relievers in the country. I was very pleased...(Tuesday) was really sharp. It was real. It would really help us if he could pitch like that more often."