San Diego preview

Sophomore catcher Gavin Collins has missed the first three weeks with a hamate injury in his left hand. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)

Sophomore catcher Gavin Collins has missed the first three weeks with a hamate injury in his left hand. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)

No. 15 Mississippi State will get one final non-conference weekend test before the grind of the Southeastern Conference begins.

The Bulldogs welcome San Diego to Starkville for a three-game set, which will also be MSU’s first this season. John Cohen‘s club began the year with three consecutive four-game round robin series.

Today’s first pitch has once again been moved up to 4 p.m. due to inclement weather. The series will resume Saturday at 2 p.m. and the finale will start at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.

This will be the first ever meeting between the two programs on the diamond.

The Diamond Dogs are 13-1 after seeing their winning streak end in a 3-2 home loss to Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Tuesday.

State enters the weekend leading the nation in walks (95) and on-base percentage (.452) and ranks second in the country in runs scored (117). The Bulldogs are batting .309 as a team with six home runs and averaging 8.4 runs per game. They also maintain a .971 fielding percentage and are 20-of-26 on stolen bases.

Sophomore centerfielder Jacob Robson leads the Mississippi State regulars with a .435 batting average and is tied with senior shortstop Seth Heck for the team lead with 20 hits. Redshirt freshman outfielder Brent Rooker tops the Diamond Dogs with two homers while freshman third baseman Ryan Gridley and senior first baseman Wes Rea pace the team with 10 runs batted in. Robson is the top base thief with 10 steals in 13 tries.

MSU’s pitching staff has compiled a 2.57 earned run average with 135 strikeouts and 46 walks in 126 innings of work. Their opponents are hitting just .208 against them with eight long balls.

Sophomore Vance Tatum ranks second in the SEC with 25 strikeouts while relievers Trevor Fitts, Dakota Hudson and Levi Mintz all have flawless ERA’s. Fitts has notched four saves on the year.

Tonight the Bulldogs will send junior right-hander Preston Brown to the mound. Brown has won all three of his starts with a 2.12 ERA, 22 strikeouts and six walks in 17 frames.

San Diego will counter with a junior righty of its own in David Hill. Hill is 1-2 in three starts with a 4.15 ERA, 20 strikeouts and 12 walks in 17.1 innings.

Sophomore right-hander Austin Sexton (1-0, 2.63 ERA, 20 K, 2 BB) is scheduled to start on Saturday for State opposed by junior southpaw P.J. Conlon (1-0, 1.59 ERA, 18 K, 9 BB). Sunday’s finale will feature Tatum (2-0, 1.45 ERA, 25 K, 5 BB) on the bump for the Bulldogs against San Diego junior righty Gary Cornish (0-0, 4.38 ERA, 14 K, 6 BB).

The Toreros are 4-6 on the year after sweeping a doubleheader at 18th-ranked Texas on Sunday. San Diego’s midweek outing with UC Riverside was canceled.

Rich Hill‘s roster is hitting .262 with a pair of homers and scoring four runs per game. The Toreros sport a .979 fielding percentage and are 10-of-15 on stolen base attempts.

Junior utility player Spencer Dunlap holds a team-high .500 batting average while junior shortstop Kyle Holder is San Diego’s top hitter with 13 knocks. Holder and freshman designated hitter Riley Adams have the lone long balls. Redshirt freshman first baseman Aidan Stinnett has driven in a team-best six runs and senior outfielder Grant Melker is 2-of-2 on stolen bases.

The Toreros hurlers have a 4.03 staff ERA with 96 strikeouts and 50 walks in 91.2 innings. Their opposition is batting .248 against them with five home runs.

Sophomore Seve Romo maintains a perfect ERA while Hill holds the team lead in strikeouts. Cornish and junior Anthony McIver have registered San Diego’s two saves.

Friday and Sunday’s games can be streamed on SEC Network +. Saturday’s game will be a local radio broadcast only on WMXU 106.1 FM.

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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