Mississippi State will go for its third NCAA Regional title in four years at 8:05 p.m. tonight on ESPN3.com
The Bulldogs did not know their opponent when the day began but Louisiana-Lafayette’s 11-1 victory to eliminate Jackson State earlier in the day means MSU will have to top the No. 1 Ragin’ Cajuns on their home field.
The Diamond Dogs (39-22) also downed JSU 3-1 on Saturday night to advance to the Lafayette Regional finals. State needs just one win to clinch the championship while ULL would need to knock off the Bulldogs twice to advance to a super regional.
No. 2 seed Mississippi State is 94-74 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and is 70-39 in regional play. A victory would give the Bulldogs their 12th NCAA Regional title.
Tonight will be just the third meeting between the two schools on the diamond with each winning a game in Starkville during the 1991 season back when the Ragin’ Cajuns were known as Southwestern Louisiana.
John Cohen’s club is batting .274 with 15 home runs and scoring 4.9 runs per game. MSU maintains a .981 fielding percentage and have swiped 65 bases in 91 attempts.
Senior second baseman Brett Pirtle leads the Diamond Dogs with 80 hits and a .348 average. Junior first baseman Wes Rea has slugged four home runs while senior designated hitter Alex Detz has knocked in 40 runs. Senior outfielder Derrick Armstrong has stolen 14 bases in 16 tries.
State’s pitching staff has compiled a 2.86 earned run average with 500 strikeouts and 199 walks in 554.1 innings. Their opponents are hitting just .238 against them with a dozen long balls.
All-SEC junior reliever Jacob Lindgren is the team’s strikeout leader with 93 and also a staff-low 0.88 ERA. Lindgren leads the nation averaging 16.4 strikeouts per nine innings. Junior closer Jonathan Holder has seven saves on the year and 37 for his career.
Junior left-hander Ross Mitchell will be the Bulldogs likely starter on the bump. Mitchell is 8-4 on the year with a 2.10 ERA, 49 strikeouts, 29 walks and has thrown four complete games. He is 3-0 in the NCAA Tournament with one save and a 1.89 ERA.
Senior southpaw Cody Boutte will likely start his 15th game of the season for Louisiana-Lafayette. Boutte is unbeaten at 8-0 with a 2.75 ERA, 50 strikeouts and 24 walks.
The Ragin’ Cajuns are 55-8 on the year and 30-5 at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field in 2014. ULL is the unanimously top-ranked team and a first time national seed.
Tony Robichaux’s roster entered Sunday hitting .318 with 64 homers and averaging 7.8 runs. The Ragin’ Cajuns field at a .978 clip and are 105-of-144 on base thefts.
Junior designated hitter Caleb Adams was batting .384 with 11 home runs coming into Sunday while junior second baseman Jace Conrad has collected 87 hits and 21 stolen bases. Junior outfielder/ pitcher Seth Harrison has 60 RBI.
ULL’s hurlers had a 3.36 entering Sunday with 435 strikeouts and 183 walks in 556.1 innings of work. Their opposition is hitting .239 against them with 25 long balls.
Senior Matt Hicks sports a 1.62 ERA while junior Austin Robichaux is the Ragin’ Cajuns strikeout leader with 76. Senior closer Ryan Wilson has notched seven of the team’s 24 saves this spring.