Mississippi State’s opening weekend was a success going 4-0 and outscoring Cincinnati and Miami (Ohio) 48-15 during the four-game round robin series.
The 24th-ranked Bulldogs are gearing up for another four-game set with Marshall and Alabama A&M starting against the Thundering Herd at 4 p.m. today.
“I’m excited for our kids to get opportunities,” said MSU skipper John Cohen. “When you play older (teams like Marshall and Alabama A&M) they’re going to make better decisions and make better pitches. I think Marshall will be very competitive and Alabama A&M is just as old. The amount of seniors they have in their lineup is impressive.”
It will be the first time MSU has met Marshall on the diamond and just its second outing with Alabama A&M. State won the previous game 18-0 in a seven-inning affair in 2011.
Junior right-hander Preston Brown (1-0, 3.60 ERA) will take the mound for State this afternoon opposed by Herd senior righty Matt Margaritonda (0-0, 3.00).
Mississippi State sophomore right-hander Austin Sexton is slated to start Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader against Alabama A&M while senior southpaw Lucas Laster is scheduled to start Game 2 on the mound for the Bulldogs against Marshall. Freshman righty Jesse McCord will likely start Sunday’s finale against Alabama A&M.
The Diamond Dogs hit .343 on opening weekend with a dozen extra base hits including three home runs. Freshman second baseman Ryan Gridley leads the regulars with a .667 batting average while sophomore centerfielder Jacob Robson reached base in 16 of 17 plate appearances.
State is dealing with a rash of injuries throughout its roster. Outfielder Michael Smith is doubtful for the weekend with a leg injury while first baseman Wes Rea (knee) and reliever Myles Gentry (arm) are questionable.
Cohen also announced Thursday that redshirt freshman pitcher Jacob Billingley would miss the entire 2015 season.
“He had a couple of arm issues that had to be taken care of,” Cohen said. “”I know he’s really upset and certainly he’ll handle the rehab part of it really well. He’s worked so hard and that’s it’s so devastating to see him not be able to pitch for us. Hopefully he’ll be able to pitch next spring.”
Marshall enters the weekend at 2-1 following an opening weekend series win at Florida A&M outscoring the Rattlers 38-14. Alabama A&M is 1-3 on the young season dropping a four-game home series to Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne.