Jackson State preview

Lucas Laster has appeared in eight games and has a 1.97 ERA in his first season at MSU. (AP Photo/Hal Yeager)

Lucas Laster has appeared in eight games and has a 1.97 ERA in his first season at MSU. (AP Photo/Hal Yeager)

No. 17 Mississippi State will meet a familiar foe in the winner’s bracket of the Lafayette Regional.

Fourth-seeded Jackson State pulled one of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history downing top-ranked and No.1 seed Louisiana-Lafayette 1-0 at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field Friday night.

For the Tigers, who advanced to the Lafayette Regional as the SWAC Tournament Champions, it was their first NCAA Tournament win in school history. JSU (32-23) has lost its previous 10 postseason outings spanning five regional appearances.

The Tigers victory sets up a 6 p.m. matchup with MSU on ESPN3.com marking the first time the two have met in the postseason.

The Bulldogs hold a 49-8 edge in the series overall. Jackson State won the last meeting between the two programs 3-1 at Trustmark Park in Pearl during the 2010 season. John Cohen is 1-1 against the Tigers since he began coaching MSU but was 8-1 as a player.

Second-seeded Mississippi State improved to 93-74 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 69-39 in regional play with a 5-2 victory over San Diego State on Friday.

The Bulldogs (38-22) enter tonight’s contest batting .275 with 15 home runs and scoring five runs per game. Mississippi State also maintains a .981 fielding percentage and has swiped 64 bases in 90 attempts.

Senior second baseman Brett Pirtle leads the Diamond Dogs with a .344 batting average and 78 hits. Junior first baseman Wes Rea tops the team with four homers while senior designated hitter Alex Detz has knocked in 40 runs. Senior outfielder Derrick Armstrong has 13 steals in 15 tries.

The Diamond Dogs pitching staff has compiled a 2.89 earned run average with 487 strikeouts and 196 walks in 545.1 innings. Their opponents are hitting .240 against them with a dozen long balls.

Junior All-SEC selection Jacob Lindgren paces Mississippi State out of the bullpen with 93 strikeouts and a 0.88 ERA. Junior closer Jonathan Holder has seven saves on the year and 37 for his career.

Neither team has announced a starting pitcher for today’s outing.

Jackson State is batting .272 on the year with 17 homers and averaging 6.4 runs a game. Omar Johnson’s team is fielding at a .954 clip and is 86-of-120 on base thefts.

Junior catcher Wyatt Sutton tops the Tigers with a .400 average while junior third baseman Melvin Rodriguez has collected 60 hits and 46 RBI. Rodriguez, junior first baseman Tilur Smith and senior catcher Jose Cruz all have three home runs each. Former Starkville standout Charles “Chuck” Tillery, a senior centerfielder, is the team’s top base thief with 16 steals.

JSU’s hurlers have a 4.08 staff ERA with 359 strikeouts and 219 walks over 487.1 innings. Their opposition is hitting .271 against them with 16 long balls.

Senior Nick Marigny and sophomore John Castillo both maintain flawless ERA’s while senior Desmond Russell is the Tigers’ strikeout leader with 83. Junior Alexander Juday has notched three of the team’s 10 saves.

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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