No. 4 Mississippi State will attempt to shake off Wednesday’s stunning upset by Memphis in a four-game weekend series against Holy Cross.
The Bulldogs were unable to hold a 4-3 lead over Memphis in the ninth inning as the Tigers plated three runs in their final at bat to even MSU’s record at 2-2 on the year.
John Cohen’s club will attempt to get back on track in a first ever meeting against Holy Cross on the diamond. Today’s game is slated for a 4 p.m. first pitch followed by a Saturday doubleheader starting at 11 am. The series will conclude Sunday at noon.
The Diamond Dogs enter the weekend hitting just .210 and averaging 4.8 runs per game. State has struck out in 40 of its 119 official at bats. The Bulldogs have swiped five bases in eight attempts on the year while maintaining a .980 fielding percentage.
Senior second baseman Brett Pirtle has hit safely in all four games for Mississippi State and leads the team with a .333 batting average. Junior first baseman Wes Rea has knocked in six runs on the year while senior right fielder Demarcus Henderson is a perfect 3 for 3 on stolen bases.
The Bulldogs pitching staff has compiled a 2.25 earned run average with 46 strikeouts and 15 walks through 36 innings of work. Their opponents have hit .230 against them with one home run.
MSU features five pitchers with a flawless ERA. Junior right-hander Trevor Fitts tops the team with 11 strikeouts while junior All-American Jonathan Holder holds the lone save on the year.
Junior righty Brandon Woodruff (0-1, 18.00 ERA, 3 K, 4 BB) is scheduled to make his second start this afternoon for the Diamond Dogs while Holy Cross counters with senior right-hander Nate Walker.
Fitts (1-0, 1.50 ERA, 11 K, 2 BB) will take the mound in Game 1 Saturday for State opposed by freshman righty Phil Reese from the Crusaders. Holy Cross has tabbed junior right-hander Collin Manning as its Game 2 starter while State has not slated a starter for the twinbill finale. Freshman righty Dakota Hudson (0-0, 2.25 ERA, 2 K, 0 BB) will toe the rubber for the Bulldogs on Sunday while the Crusaders go with junior right-hander Donny Murray.
This weekend will be the first action for Holy Cross this season. The Crusaders went 28-25 in 2013.
Greg DiCenzo’s club hit .289 last season with 22 homers and plating six runs a game. Holy Cross had a .964 fielding percentage while successfully stealing 68 bases in 86 tries.
Junior outfielder Jack St. Clair was the Crusaders top hitter last season with a .345 average. Fellow junior outfielder Evan Ocello is the returning long ball leader with three in 2013 while senior outfielder Brandon Cipolla drove in 30 runs. Ocello was Holy Cross’ top base thief with 15 steals in 18 attempts.
The Crusaders’ hurlers had a 5.62 ERA with 326 strikeouts and 213 walks over 432.2 frames. Their opposition hit .294 against them with 25 home runs.
Murray is Holy Cross’ top returning arm going 7-3 last season with 61 strikeouts.
The weekend series will not be televised but Friday and Saturday’s games can be heard locally on WKBB 100.9 FM while Sunday’s broadcast will be on the MSU Baseball Radio Network.