Western Kentucky preview

Freshman outfielder Joey Swinarski is still seeking his first hit as a Bulldog. (Mississippi State)

Freshman outfielder Joey Swinarski is still seeking his first hit as a Bulldog. (Mississippi State)

No. 22 Mississippi State has lost three of its last four games since beginning the year 13-0.

The Diamond Dogs will get one final tune-up before SEC play arrives hosting Western Kentucky for a two-game midweek set starting today at 4 p.m. and also Wednesday at 5 p.m.

Today’s first pitch was moved up from 6:30 p.m. due to expected inclement weather.

MSU has won both of its previous meetings with the Hilltoppers. The Bulldogs won the previous match-up 9-3 in Starkville in 2010.

State is 14-3 on the year after dropping a series to San Diego over the weekend. The Diamond Dogs dropped the rubber game on Sunday 9-6 after the Toreros plated seven runs in their final two at bats.

John Cohen‘s club is batting .298 with six home runs and averaging 7.5 runs per game. Mississippi State maintains a .976 fielding percentage and is 20-of-26 on stolen base attempts.

Sophomore outfielder Jacob Robson leads the Bulldog regulars with a .400 batting average and is 10-of-13 on stolen base attempts. Senior shortstop Seth Heck has racked up 25 hits while redshirt freshman outfielder Brent Rooker tops the team with two homers. Rooker, freshman second baseman Ryan Gridley and senior first baseman Wes Rea have all driven in 10 runs.

MSU’s pitching staff has compiled a 2.82 earned run average with 154 strikeouts and 59 walks in 153 innings. Their opponents are hitting just .218 against them with nine long balls.

Junior right-hander Preston Brown leads the Diamond Dogs with 27 strikeouts while freshman righty Levi Mintz has a flawless ERA. Senior closer Trevor Fitts has notched four saves on the year.

Tonight State will send senior southpaw Lucas Laster to the mound to make his fourth start. Laster is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA, 12 strikeouts and four walks in 14.2 frames of work.

WKU will counter with sophomore lefty Ryan Thurston. Thurston is 1-1 four appearances with a 7.07 ERA, 11 strikeouts and nine walks 14 innings of work.

The Hilltoppers are 6-7 on the year after losing back-to-back home games to Ohio State on Sunday (10-1) and Monday (6-4).

Matt Myers‘ team is hitting .280 with nine homers and is scoring 6.2 runs per game. Western Kentucky sports a .959 fielding percentage and have swiped 14 bases in 19 tries.

Sophomore second baseman Leiff Clarkson leads the Hilltoppers with a .357 average while junior third baseman Danny Hudzina has collected 17 hits. Senior right fielder Philip Diedrick, junior centerfielder Anderson Miller and freshman outfielder Kaleb Duckworth have all homered twice. Senior first baseman Ryan Church tops the team with 15 RBI while Miller and senior shortstop Cody Wofford are the top base thieves with three steals each.

WKU’s hurlers have a 5.59 staff ERA with 86 strikeouts and 53 walks in 116 innings. Their opposition is batting .293 against them with 11 home runs.

Miller maintains a perfect ERA while junior Austin King has a team-high 18 strikeouts. Sophomore Ben Morrison has recorded three of the Hilltoppers five saves on the spring.

Both games will be stream on SEC Network +.

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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