Alcorn State preview

Jake Vickerson has started 33 games during his first season at Mississippi State. (Lauren Wood/ Daily Journal)

Jake Vickerson has started 33 games during his first season at Mississippi State. (Lauren Wood/ Daily Journal)

No. 24 Mississippi State continues its run through the Magnolia State facing its third consecutive in-state opponent as Alcorn State travels to Starkville tonight at 6:30 p.m.

The Bulldogs (22-15, 7-8) split last week’s games against Southern Miss and Ole Miss by winning an extra-inning affair from each. Mississippi State will try to bounce back after losing the rubber game to the Rebels 12-2 on Sunday and dropping its second straight Southeastern Conference series.

MSU is 12-0 all-time against Alcorn State outscoring the Braves 181-34 in the series. The Bulldogs average score against the Braves is 15-3.

ASU was able to keep things close a year ago and nearly pulled the upset in a 7-6 decision. Brandon Woodruff had a rough start on the mound allowing four runs and only getting two outs but the Diamond Dogs were able to rally as Adam Frazier and Nick Ammirati were each 3-for-4 with two runs scored.

John Cohen’s club is hitting .266 on the year with six home runs and scoring 4.8 runs per game. MSU maintains a .982 fielding percentage while stealing 49 bases in 65 attempts on the year.

Senior left fielder Derrick Armstrong leads the Bulldogs with a .356 batting average and 12 stolen bases. Armstrong has five straight multi-hit games and is 18 for his last 37. Senior second baseman Brett Pirtle tops the team with 46 hits while junior first baseman Wes Rea has slugged three homers and knocked in 27 runs.

State’s pitching staff has compiled a 3.41 earned run average with 305 strikeouts and 120 walks in 330 innings. Opponents are hitting .259 against them with seven long balls.

Junior reliever Jacob Lindgren has a team-low 1.35 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 26.2 innings of work. Junior All-American Jonathan Holder has notched four of the Bulldogs 10 saves on the year.

Mississippi State has not announced a starting pitcher for tonight’s game while the Braves send out freshman right-hander Charles Wilson (0-0, 8.80 ERA) to make his first start of the year. Wilson has walked 19 and struck out eight in eight relief appearances.

The Braves are 6-31 on the year but are just 1-21 on the road this year. Alcorn State dropped a SWAC series at home to Alabama State over the weekend winning the opener 5-3 before dropping the final two outings 11-3 and 12-1.

Barret Rey’s team has three times as many home runs (18) as MSU does. The Braves are batting .259 and averaging four runs per game. ASU sports a .937 fielding percentage and are 62-of-92 on base thefts.

Junior outfielder Devante Taylor leads the Braves with a .500 batting average while sophomore shortstop Moses Charles has collected 46 hits and 20 stolen bases. Earl Burl III, a 6-foot-8 junior right fielder, tops the team with four long balls and 16 RBI.

Alcorn State’s hurlers have a 8.13 staff ERA with 146 strikeouts and 213 walks in 312.1 innings. Their opposition is hitting .333 against them with 28 home runs.

The Braves have three relievers with a flawless ERA while senior Ryan Fuentes has recorded a team-high 39 strikeouts. Fuentes and freshman Jonathan Morales have ASU’s two saves on the season.

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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