Memphis preview

Senior right fielder Demarcus Henderson has one of the Bulldogs three extra base hits this season. (Lee Adams/ Special to the Daily Journal)

Senior right fielder Demarcus Henderson has one of the Bulldogs three extra base hits this season. (Lee Adams/ Special to the Daily Journal)

Mississippi State baseball fans had to adjust their schedules once again as today’s game against Memphis was pushed back to a 6:30 p.m. start.

Today marks the 75th meeting between the two programs dating back to 1950. The fourth-ranked Bulldogs hold a 52-22 lead in the series overall and a 33-13 mark in Starkville. John Cohen is 5-1 against the Tigers as MSU’s head coach.

State has claimed six of the last seven meetings.

The Bulldogs claimed last year’s game 12-1 at AutoZone Park in Memphis. Second baseman Brett Pirtle paced State at the plate in that game going 4-for-5 with a double, triple and two runs batted in. Five Diamond Dog pitchers combined to limit the Tigers to just four hits with Ross Mitchell picking up the win in relief.

MSU (2-1) won its opening series against Western Carolina taking the final two games.

But the Bulldogs bats struggled hitting just .207 over the weekend with 33 strikeouts in 87 official at bats. Mississippi State is averaging five runs per game with no home runs and is 1 of 3 in stolen base attempts on the young season.

Pirtle and fellow senior centerfielder C.T. Bradford are tied for the team lead with a .364 batting average. Junior first baseman Wes Rea has driven in five runs while junior catcher Zack Randolph has the Diamond Dogs only steal.

MSU’s pitching staff has compiled a 2.00 earned run average with 34 strikeouts and 14 walks. The Catamounts hit .240 against them averaging two runs a game.

Junior Trevor Fitts tops the team with 11 strikeouts while fellow junior Jonathan Holder has the Bulldogs lone save.

The Diamond Dogs will send senior right-hander Ben Bracewell (1-0, 0.00 ERA) to the bump while Memphis counters with junior southpaw Caleb Wallingford (1-0, 0.00 ERA). Bracewell faced one batter against Memphis last season recording a four-pitch strikeout for the final out of the game.

Memphis is 3-0 on the year after sweeping Western Michigan at home over the weekend.

The Tigers are coached by a pair of former MSU assistants Daron Schoenrock (head coach) and Russ McNickle (pitching coach). Schoenrock spent three seasons as the Bulldogs pitching coach mentoring current Big Leaguers Paul Maholm and Jonathan Papelbon.

McNickle was also a graduate assistant in Starkville from 1989-90 coaching Cohen during those seasons.

Schoenrock’s squad batted .238 on opening weekend averaging four runs per game. Memphis also has not had a homer yet and is 4 of 10 on stolen base tries.

Senior second baseman Zach Willis tops the Tigers with a .600 batting average and is tied for the team lead with two RBI with junior left fielder Kane Barrow.

Memphis’ hurlers compiled a 1.33 staff ERA with 21 strikeouts and 12 walks over the weekend. Western Michigan hit just .200 against them averaging two runs per game.

Junior Dylan Toscano is the Tigers top pitcher this season recording five strikeouts in Sunday’s start. Junior Bryce Beeler has already closed out two games this year.

Today’s game will not be televised but  can be heard locally on WMXU 106.1 FM.

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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