Mississippi State baseball coach Andy Cannizaro has decided to take a chance against South Alabama on Friday in his team's 6 p.m. opener of the Hattiesburg Regional.
Cannizaro announced Wednesday that right-hander Cole Gordon will be the starting pitcher against a South Alabama lineup that's loaded with left-handed bats. Gordon is 2-2 with 4.59 ERA in 16 appearances, seven starts, this season.
That pushes back MSU ace left-hander Konnor Pilkington to pitch on Saturday. The East Central product is 7-5 with a 3.13 ERA in 15 starts this season.
If MSU wins, it will face the winner of Friday's 1 p.m. game featuring No. 1 seed Southern Miss (48-14) and No. 4 seed Illinois-Chicago (39-15).
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Cannizaro is holding Pilkington for Saturday in order to set up a more favorable match-up against Southern Miss, which has had more problems with left-handers than righties this season.
MSU (36-24) and South Alabama played three times this season with the Bulldogs taking two games.
South Alabama (39-19) is expected to throw its ace, right-hander Randy Bell, against MSU.
USM has yet to announce a starter for the opener, but junior left-hander Kirk McCarty seems like the likely choice.