Southern Illinois preview

Gavin Collins has thrown out six of the eight runners who have attempted to steal on him this season. (Photo Courtesy of MSU Athletics/ Elizabeth Stowe)

Gavin Collins has thrown out six of the eight runners who have attempted to steal on him this season. (Photo Courtesy of MSU Athletics/ Elizabeth Stowe)

No. 24 Mississippi State returns home tonight hosting Southern Illinois at 6:30 p.m.

The Bulldogs went 1-3 on their first road trip of the season participating in the Hi Corbett Classic in Tucson, Ariz., over the weekend. MSU was swept in two games by No. 23 UC-Santa Barbara and split with Arizona.

The Diamond Dogs dropped to 12-7 on the year and tonight’s matchup will be their final tune-up before conference play begins this weekend at Georgia.

Tonight will be the first meeting between State and the Salukis on the diamond.

John Cohen’s club is batting .278 on the year with five home runs and are averaging 5.7 runs per game. The Bulldogs maintain a .984 fielding percentage and have stolen 34 bases in 43 attempts.

Senior centerfielder C.T. Bradford leads Mississippi State with a .340 batting average and has four triples in his last nine at bats while senior second baseman Brett Pirtle is the club leader with 23 hits. Junior first baseman Wes Rea has accounted for three homers and 19 runs batted in while senior left fielder Derrick Armstrong has swiped eight bases in nine tries.

The Diamond Dogs pitching staff has compiled a 3.14 earned run average with 168 strikeouts and 70 walks in 169 innings. Their opponents are hitting .258 against them with three long balls.

Sophomore Preston Brown leads MSU with a 1.12 ERA while junior Trevor Fitts has struck out 25 and is 2-0 on the mound. Juniors Jacob Lindgren and Will Cox are tied for tops on the team with two saves each.

Brown, a right-hander, will make his third start of the season tonight against SIU. Brown is 1-0 on the year with 16 strikeouts and 10 walks in 16 innings of work. The Salukis will counter with redshirt freshman Connor McFadden (1-0, 6.97 ERA, 12 K, 13 BB) making his fourth start.

Southern Illinois is 8-6 on the year and were swept over the weekend at South Alabama with two games taking 10-innings. State defeated South Alabama 3-0 at home last Wednesday.

Ken Henderson’s squad is hitting .245 this season with seven homers and scoring 4.7 runs per game. The Salukis sport a .968 fielding percentage and are 8 of 12 on base thefts.

Senior infielder Cody Daily is the only SIU player hitting over .300 with a .318 batting average. Senior first baseman Ryan Casillas has racked up 15 hits and is tied for the team lead with senior right fielder Donny Duschinsky with 11 RBI each. Duschinsky also has three home runs while senior shortstop Jake Welch is the team’s top base thief going 5 of 6 in the stolen base department.

The Saluki hurlers have a 2.86 staff ERA with 95 strikeouts and 63 walks in 126 innings. Their opposition is hitting just .211 against them with seven long balls.

Relievers Lee Weld, Austin McPheron, Jacob Williams, Tyler Dray and Aaron Snyder have all kept their flawless ERA’s intact while Chad Whitmer is 2-0 on the year. Todd Eaton is SIU’s strikeout leader with 13 while Dray has notched three of the team’s four saves.

Tonight’s game will not be televised but can be heard 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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