CORVALLIS — Mississippi State won't be entirely a mystery to Oregon State when the teams meet Saturday to open the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
"Everybody is on TV, so you get the tapes and look at them," OSU coach Pat Casey said Wednesday after his team's final workout at Goss Stadium. "Everything you need to know is on the Web."
His initial impressions?
"A really good club," Casey said. "Really good pitching, they led the SEC in strikeouts, really scrappy at the plate, some balance in their hitting.
"They're a lot like Kansas State, but they've got better pitching," Casey said, a comparison to the team the Beavers beat in the NCAA super regional.
OSU didn't play a team from the SEC this season until meeting Texas A&M in the regionals, and Mississippi State didn't play a Pac-12 team this season, but the Beavers and Bulldogs did have a couple of common opponents this season in the University of Portland along with Texas A&M.
OSU swept the Pilots in three games sprinkled over the season, and Mississippi State swept UP in a four-game series to open the season, winning by a cumulative score of 31-3. The Bulldogs swept a three-game series from Texas A&M and then defeated the Aggies again in the SEC tournament.
The Beavers posted a 6-1 win over A&M to wrap up the regional.
OSU senior pitcher Matt Boyd said he and his teammates are studying up on the Bulldogs.
"Every available source we have, we're looking at it," Boyd said, adding that the easiest way to describe the Bulldogs is "they're in Omaha, so they're doing something right."
One notable difference in the teams is the way they use their pitching staffs. While OSU relied heavily on its starting pitching rotation of Boyd, Andrew Moore and Ben Wetzler, the Bulldogs made extensive use of their bullpen, to the point that relievers threw more innings than starters this season.
All eight MSU pitchers with an earned run average of 2.51 or below are primarily relievers, with a total of only 10 starts among them. Ross Mitchell (12-0, 1.31 earned run average) leads the Bulldogs in wins without making a start this season.
Jonathan Holder (2-0, 1.31 ERA) has recorded a school-record 18 saves as the closer and leads the team in strikeouts with 83 in his 48 innings. Holder is the primary reason the Bulldogs are 43-0 when leading after eight innings.
The bullpen has been used early and often because No. 1 MSU starter Kendall Graveman (7-5, 3.14 ERA) is averaging six innings per start and No. 2 starter Jacob Lindgren (4-3, 4.18 ERA) has lasted only an average of four innings in the 14 games he's started.
Renfroe to Eugene?
The Bulldogs had seven players taken in the Major League Baseball draft last week, with outfielder Hunter Renfroe going in the first round to the San Diego Padres.
With the Padres being the parent team of the Eugene Emeralds, there is the possibility that if Renfroe, the 13th overall selection, is signed he could be assigned to the Ems to begin his professional career. As a junior with the Bulldogs, Renfroe hit .360 with 15 home runs and 61 runs batted in.
Three other Bulldogs went on the second day of the draft, with shortstop Adam Frazier (Pirates) in the sixth round, Graveman (Blue Jays) in the eighth and reliever Chad Girodo (Blue Jays) in the ninth. On the final day, pitcher Evan Mitchell (Reds) was taken in the 13th round, infielder/pitcher Daryl Norris (Tigers) in the 22nd round and pitcher Luis Pollorena (Rangers) in the 23rd round.
The Beavers also had seven players taken in the 40 rounds of the draft.
The big five-oh-oh
Bulldogs coach John Cohen could record a milestone win if Mississippi State plays long enough in Omaha. He begins the College World Series with 495 wins as a head coach, working previously at Northwestern State and Kentucky.
In his five seasons at Mississippi State, Cohen's teams are 174-129, with this a third consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament for the Bulldogs. Cohen played at Mississippi State and still ranks in the top 10 of several career lists.
Notes: Mississippi State is 29-3 against teams outside of the SEC this season. That includes a 17-0 start to the season, all against nonconference opponents & Brett Pirtle, the second baseman and usually the No. 4 hitter in the lineup, has reached base in 39 consecutive games & the Bulldogs are only 21-18 when the opponent scores three or more runs & the Bulldogs batted a cumulative .307 in their six NCAA tournament games, winning five of them.