LAFAYETTE, La., – Mississippi State will make its fourth straight NCAA Regional appearance and 34th overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Last year the Bulldogs won their own regional in Starkville but this time will be on the road in the Lafayette Regional.
But before the Bulldogs can worry about the top-ranked Ragin’ Cajuns, they will have to contend with back-to-back Mountain West Tournament Champion San Diego State. No. 2 seed MSU will face the third-seeded Aztecs at 1 p.m. today on ESPN3.com.
Louisiana-Lafayette will square off against No. 4 seed Jackson State in the nightcap at 6 p.m.
Mississippi State has a 92-74 record in the NCAA Tournament including a 68-39 mark in regional play. The Bulldogs have claimed 11 NCAA Regional titles, five of which have been won on the road.
Today will mark the first ever meeting between San Diego State and the Diamond Dogs.
The 17th ranked Bulldogs are 37-22 on the year and coming off a 2-2 showing at the Southeastern Conference Tournament. MSU suffered back-to-back losses to Kentucky (7-6 in 12-innings) and Florida (5-1) to oust them from Hoover last week.
John Cohen’s club enters the regional batting .275 with 15 home runs and averaging 4.9 runs per game. The Diamond Dogs maintain a .981 fielding percentage and have 64 stolen bases in 90 attempts.
Senior second baseman Brett Pirtle tops the team with 76 hits and a .341 batting average. Junior shortstop Seth Heck is currently riding a 19-game hitting streak. Junior first baseman Wes Rea has slugged four homers while senior designated hitter Alex Detz has driven in 39 runs. Senior outfielder Derrick Armstrong has swiped 13 bases in 15 tries.
Mississippi State’s pitching staff has compiled a 2.90 earned run average with 484 strikeouts and 193 walks over 536.1 innings. Their opponents are hitting .242 against them with a dozen long balls.
Junior All-SEC selection Jacob Lindgren leads the Bulldogs out of the bullpen with a 0.88 ERA and 93 strikeouts. Lindgren leads the nation averaging 16.4 strikeouts per nine innings and has pitched 21 1/3 straight scoreless frames. Junior closer Jonathan Holder has saved seven games this spring and 37 for his career.
Mississippi State will send junior right-hander Trevor Fitts to the mound for his 16th start of the year. Fitts is 4-3 with a 2.51 earned run average with 56 strikeouts and 12 walks over 64.2 innings of work.
The Aztecs will counter with sophomore righty Mark Seyler, also making his 16th start this season. Seyler is 8-5 with a 3.99 ERA, 76 strikeouts and 34 walks in 94.2 innings.
SDSU (42-19) has won seven of its last eight outings and is making its third NCAA Regional appearance since 2009. The Aztecs were coached by MLB Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn until midseason when he took a leave of absence due to health problems.
San Diego State went 5-1 during the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas claiming a 4-3 victory over UNLV in the championship game on Sunday.
The Aztecs are hitting .291 with 25 homers and scoring 5.8 runs per game. SDSU sports a .973 fielding percentage and are 77-of-108 on base thefts.
Sophomore third baseman Ty France tops the team with a .351 average and 81 hits. Junior catcher Brad Haynal is the Aztecs power threat with a dozen home runs and 49 RBI. Junior centerfielder Greg Allen is the leading base thief with 25 steals in 30 chances.
SDSU’s hurlers have a 3.70 staff ERA with 406 strikeouts and 204 walks in 538 innings. Their opposition is batting .265 against them with 21 long balls.
Redshirt freshman CJ Saylor maintains a flawless ERA for the Aztecs while sophomore Bubba Derby tops the team with 99 strikeouts. Junior closer Michael Cederoth has 20 of San Diego State’s 22 saves on the year.