Hi Corbett Classic preview

Canadian sophomore Jacob Robson has started three games in the outfield for the Bulldogs this season. (Lee Adams/ Special to the Daily Journal)

Canadian sophomore Jacob Robson has started three games in the outfield for the Bulldogs this season. (Lee Adams/ Special to the Daily Journal)

No. 12 Mississippi State hits the road for the first time this season traveling to Tucson, Ariz., for the Hi Corbett Classic.

The Bulldogs will play four games in the round robin tournament against UC-Santa Barbara and Arizona. MSU will play a doubleheader today beginning at 3 p.m. CT against the Gauchos and at 8 p.m. against the host Wildcats.

The Diamond Dogs meet UC-Santa Barbara again Saturday at 3 p.m. and close things out against Arizona at 7 p.m. Sunday.

It will be just the second meeting between State and the Gauchos on the diamond. The Bulldogs defeated UC-Santa Barbara 6-2 in the 1996 West Regional in Stanford, Calif. Mississippi State also holds an 8-3 mark against the Wildcats last sweeping a three-game series in Tucson in 2006.

The Diamond Dogs are 3-2 all-time in games played in Tucson and have won four straight against Arizona.

MSU (11-4) enters the weekend riding a seven-game winning streak. The Bulldogs have outscored their opponents 50-8 during that stretch and are coming off a midweek 3-0 shutout of South Alabama on Wednesday.

John Cohen’s club is hitting .285 with five home runs and are averaging six runs a game. State maintains a .983 fielding percentage and have swiped 30 bases in 38 attempts.

Senior outfielder C.T. Bradford tops the Diamond Dogs at the dish with a .342 batting average while senior second baseman Brett Pirtle leads the team with 20 hits. Junior first baseman Wes Rea has three homers while leading the country with 15 walks and is second with 19 runs batted in. Senior centerfielder Derrick Armstrong is the team leader with seven steals in eight tries.

Mississippi State’s pitching staff has compiled a 1.87 earned run average with 144 strikeouts and 54 walks in 135 innings. Their opponents are hitting just .225 against them with three long balls.

Four Bulldog pitchers hold flawless ERA’s – Austin Sexton, Jacob Lindgren, Zac Houston and Lucas Laster. Ben Bracewell, Ross Mitchell and Trevor Fitts all sport a 2-0 record with Fitts leading the team with 24 strikeouts. Amory’s Will Cox has notched two of MSU’s five saves on the year.

Bracewell (2-0, 0.59 ERA, 18 K, 3 BB), a senior right-hander, will take the mound for the Diamond Dogs in Game 1 today opposed by UC-Santa Barbara sophomore esouthpaw Justin Jacome (1-0, 1.38 ERA, 11 K, 3 BB). State will send junior righty Brandon Woodruff (1-1, 5.00 ERA, 9 K, 10 BB) to start Game 2 opposed by Arizona senior right-hander James Farris (2-1, 2.08 ERA, 24 K, 2 BB).

Fitts (2-0, 1.96 ERA, 24 K, 4 BB), a junior righty, will toe the rubber for the Bulldogs on Saturday countered by freshman right-hander Shane Bieber (1-0, 1.50 ERA, 8 K, 2 BB) from the Gauchos. Either freshman righties Sexton (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 6 K, 6 BB) or Dakota Hudson (1-1, 1.42 ERA, 8 K, 3 BB) will start Sunday’s finale for Mississippi State while the Wildcats have not named a starting pitcher.

UC-Santa Barbara is 7-1 on the year and has won six-straight coming into today. The Gauchos defeated Japanese university Waseda 2-1 on Tuesday but does not affect their overall record.

Andrew Checketts’ club is hitting .341 on the year with five homers and averaging 8.4 runs per game. UCSB holds a .970 fielding percentage and has nabbed 21 steals in 24 tries.

Freshman infielder Billy Frederick is batting 1.000 on the year while senior third baseman Joey Epperson has a team-leading 16 hits. Epperson is tied with junior first baseman Tyler Kuresa with two home runs each with Kuresa topping the team with 12 RBI. Junior Peter Maris is the Gauchos top base thief going 6 of 6 in steals.

UC-Santa Barbara hurlers have a 2.54 staff ERA with 63 strikeouts and 28 walks in 71 innings of work.

Sophomore Dylan Hecht leads the Gauchos with 15 strikeouts and is 2-0 on the year. Six pitchers sport a scoreless ERA including sophomore closer Dillon Tate, who has both of UCSB’s saves.

Arizona, the 2012 National Champions, is 6-7 on the year having lost five straight outings. The Wildcats lost a midweek series 4-3 and 11-4 to Long Beach State and were swept over the weekend by Seton Hall.

Andy Lopez’s roster is batting .316 on the year with two long balls and scoring 6.4 runs a game. Arizona sports a .979 fielding percentage and is 30 of 41 on stolen base attempts.

Junior left fielder Tyler Krause is hitting .500 on the season with sophomore centerfielder Zach Gibbons leading the club with 21 hits. Freshman first baseman Bobby Dalbec has both the Wildcats home runs while fellow freshman infielder Willie Calhoun has driven in 10. Sophomore shortstop Kevin Newman is the team’s top base thief with a perfect 9 for 9 on steals.

Arizona’s pitchers hold a 4.65 staff ERA with 106 strikeouts and 39 walks in 122 frames. Their opposition is batting .262 against them with one homer.

Freshman reliever Evan Hebert has a flawless ERA while Farris is the team leader in strikeouts. The Wildcats have yet to record a save this season.

None of the games will be televised but Friday and Sunday’s games can be heard on the MSU Baseball Radio Network. Saturday’s broadcast can be listen to locally on WKBB 100.9 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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