Tennessee preview

Trevor Fitts will start on the mound for Mississippi State on Friday. (AP Photo/Eric Francis)

Trevor Fitts will start on the mound for Mississippi State on Friday. (AP Photo/Eric Francis)

Six seniors could step onto Dudy Noble Field for the final time this weekend.

Mississippi State will host its last home series against Tennessee starting tonight at 6:30 p.m. Saturday’s 6 p.m. contest will be televised on CSS while Sunday’s senior day festivities get underway at 1:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.

Seniors Ben Bracewell, C.T. Bradford, Alex Detz, Demarcus Henderson, Derrick Armstrong and Brett Pirtle will all be honored this weekend.

Although this could be the final home outing for several players on the roster, Diamond Dogs skipper John Cohen does not want his team to lose focus on the task at hand with Tennessee.The Bulldogs are 31-18 overall and enter the weekend one game out of first place in the SEC West at 14-10.

MSU is riding a three-game winning streak following a road sweep at Auburn last weekend and has won seven of its last nine conference outings. The Bulldogs pitching staff surrendered just one run in 27 innings against the Tigers last weekend while their offense generated 18 runs including three home runs.

Mississippi State leads the all-time series against the Volunteers 53-25 and 33-11 in Starkville. The two programs last met on the diamond in 2012 resulting in a Bulldog home sweep.

Cohen’s club is hitting .274 on the year with 12 home runs and scoring 5.1 runs per game. The Diamond Dogs maintain a .980 fielding percentage and are 60 of 80 on stolen base attempts.

Pirtle leads MSU with 65 hits and a .346 batting average. He has reached base safely in 54-straight SEC games. Detz tops the team with three homers and 34 RBI while junior first baseman Wes Rea also has slugged three long balls. Armstrong has swiped 13 bases in 15 attempts.

The Bulldogs pitching staff has compiled a 3.05 earned run average with 398 strikeouts and 160 walks in 442 innings. Their opponents are batting .247 against them with eight home runs.

Junior reliever Jacob Lindgren leads the team with 73 strikeouts and a 1.18 ERA. Junior All-American Jonathan Holder has six of State’s 13 saves on the year.

The Diamond Dogs will sent junior right-hander Trevor Fitts (4-2, 2.62 ERA, 52 K, 8 BB) to the mound tonight while Tennessee counters with freshman righty Hunter Martin (3-3, 2.85 ERA, 31 K, 17 BB) making his 10th start of the season.

Reigning SEC Co-Pitcher of the Week Ross Mitchell (7-4, 2.12 ERA, 42 K, 22 BB), a junior southpaw, will start Saturday’s outing for Mississippi State while the Vols go with senior right-hander Nick Williams (5-4, 3.73 ERA, 55 K, 15 BB). UT sophomore lefty Andy Cox (4-1, 1.87 ERA, 53 K, 24 BB) gets the nod on Sunday while the Bulldogs have not announced a starting pitcher.

Tennessee (28-18, 10-14) won a home series over Kentucky last weekend but suffered a 7-5 setback to UNC Ashville on Tuesday night.

Dave Serrano’s squad is batting .280 on the season with 17 homers and are averaging 5.8 runs. The Volunteers are fielding at a .972 clip and are 75 of 101 on base thefts.

Sophomore left fielder Christin Stewart leads UT with a .343 average, 62 hits, four home runs and 37 RBI. Junior second baseman Will Maddox is the Vols top base thief with 19 steals in 25 chances.

Tennessee’s hurlers sport a 3.49 staff ERA with 314 strikeouts and 164 walks over 414.2 frames. Their opposition is batting .239 against them with 24 long balls.

Sophomore reliever Trevor Charpie maintains a flawless ERA while Cox is the team leader in strikeouts. Sophomore Drake Owenby has closed five of the Volunteers 12 saves on the year.

The series game can be heard on the MSU Baseball Radio Network with Jim Ellis and Bart Gregory on the call. Richard Cross and Joe Beckwith will televise the CSS broadcast while Joe Castellano and former MLB pitcher Paul Byrd will have the call Sunday on CBS Sports Network.

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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