Southern Miss preview

JUCO transfer Seth Heck has started 25 games at shortstop this season. (Photo Courtesy of MSU Athletics)

JUCO transfer Seth Heck has started 25 games at shortstop this season. (Photo Courtesy of MSU Athletics)

No. 17 Mississippi State attempts to get back into the win column tonight after being swept over the weekend.

The Bulldogs travel to Trustmark Park in Pearl for their annual meeting with Southern Miss at 6:30 p.m.

MSU leads the series over the Golden Eagles 78-36 having claimed the last five outings. The Diamond Dogs defeated USM 13-5 last year at the home of the Atlanta Braves Double-A affiliate, Mississippi Braves.

San Diego first round draft pick Hunter Renfroe had a strong plate performance against the Golden Eagles last year going 3-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and six runs batted in. State collected 15 hits in the contest.

The Diamond Dogs are 7-2 against Southern Miss in neutral site games.

The Bulldogs enter tonight’s game at 20-13 overall dropping three over the weekend at LSU. It was Mississippi State’s first Southeastern Conference series loss of the season and first time it has been swept in a three-game set since losing at Vanderbilt late last April.

John Cohen’s club was outscored 22-5 by the Tigers including a 17-4 loss on Sunday.

The Diamond Dogs are hitting .262 with six home runs and averaging five runs per game. MSU maintains a .984 fielding percentage while swiping 46 of 61 stolen bases.

Senior outfielders C.T. Bradford and Derrick Armstrong are tied for the team lead with a .319 batting average while senior second baseman Brett Pirtle has stacked up 38 hits. Junior first baseman Wes Rea has slugged three home runs and driven in 25 runs while Armstrong and senior right fielder Demarcus Henderson both have nine steals.

The Bulldogs pitching staff has compiled a 3.12 earned run average with 271 strikeouts and 110 walks in 291 innings. Their opponents are hitting .249 against them with six long balls.

Junior reliever Jacob Lindgren has a team-low 0.84 ERA while fellow junior Trevor Fitts has struck out 41 batters. Junior All-American closer Jonathan Holder has four of State’s 10 saves on the year.

Senior right-hander Ben Bracewell is scheduled to make his fifth start of the season tonight. Bracewell is 2-2 on the year with a 2.20 ERA with 29 strikeouts and eight walks over 28.2 innings.

Southern Miss will counter with sophomore righty Cody Carroll. Carroll will also be making his fifth start and is 2-0 with a 2.75 ERA, fanning 18 and walking eight in 19.2 frames.

The Golden Eagles are 19-14 on the year having won two straight at home against Middle Tennessee State. USM edged the Blue Raiders 7-6 in the Sunday contest to take the weekend series although being outscored 19-15.

Scott Berry’s squad is batting .245 with 16 homers and scoring 4.8 runs a game. The Golden Eagles sport a .955 fielding percentage and are 12 of 22 as a team on base thefts.

Matt Durst is Southern Miss’ top hitter with a .310 average, 35 hits and four home runs. Durst is the only Golden Eagle batter over .300 and is tied with junior Mason Robbins with 22 RBI. Junior Michael Sterling and junior Connor Barron each have four steals to lead the club.

USM’s hurlers have a 3.52 staff ERA with 283 strikeouts and 120 walks in 294 innings. Their opposition is hitting .240 against them with five long balls.

Freshman reliever Dustin Berrong has a flawless ERA while senior Conor Fisk has a team-high 48 strikeouts. Junior Bradley Roney has closed out 10 of the Golden Eagles 13 saves.

Tonight’s game will not be televised but can be heard on the MSU Baseball Radio Network with Jim Ellis and Bart Gregory on the call.

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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