Eastern Illinois preview

Reid Humphreys is tied for the team lead in home runs. (Mississippi State)

Reid Humphreys is tied for the team lead in home runs. (Mississippi State)

Mississippi State will try to get back on track tonight, having lost six of its last nine games.

The Bulldogs host Eastern Illinois at 6:30 p.m. to conclude a 23-game homestand.

MSU is 5-0 all-time against the Panthers including 4-3 and 9-0 victories in Starkville last season.

The Diamond Dogs are 16-6 on the year after dropping its SEC opening weekend series to Alabama. State’s bullpen blew two games to the Crimson Tide in the eighth inning losing 10-5 and 8-4. Mississippi State did manage a 4-1 victory in Game 2 of a doubleheader on Saturday.

John Cohen‘s club is hitting .293 with seven home runs and scoring 6.7 runs per game. The Bulldogs maintain a .975 fielding percentage and are 26-of-34 on stolen bases attempts.

Sophomore centerfielder Jacob Robson leads MSU with a .419 batting average and is 12-of-16 in steals. Senior shortstop Seth Heck tops the team with 30 hits while senior first baseman Wes Rea has knocked in 13 runs. Sophomore designated hitter Reid Humphreys and redshirt freshman outfielder Brent Rooker are tied for the team lead with two homers.

The Diamond Dogs pitching staff has compiled a 3.30 earned run average with 192 strikeouts and 80 walks in 199 innings. Their opponents are hitting .232 against them with 15 long balls.

Redshirt freshman reliever Levi Mintz has a flawless ERA while sophomore Vance Tatum is the team’s strikeout leader with 33. Senior closer Trevor Fitts has notched four of State’s six saves.

The Bulldogs will send senior southpaw Lucas Laster to the mound for his fifth start tonight. Laster is 2-0 with a 2.49 ERA, 17 strikeouts and five walks in 21.2 innings.

EIU will counter with freshman right-hander Luke Dietz making his first career start. In four appearances, Dietz has not factored into a decision. He sports a 2.25 ERA with three strikeouts and no walks in four innings of work.

The Panthers remain winless on the year with at 0-13 including six road losses against SEC opponents Arkansas and Georgia. Eastern Illinois was swept at Memphis over the weekend and were outscored 22-4.

Jim Schmitz‘s squad is batting .182 with four homers and averaging 2.7 runs. The Panthers have a .950 fielding percentage and are 5-of-7 on base thefts.

Senior left fielder Caleb Howell leads the club hitting .293 and a dozen hits while senior third baseman Brant Valach provides the power with three home runs and nine RBI.

EIU’s pitching staff has a 9.11 ERA with 89 strikeouts and 60 walks in 104.2 frames. Their opponents are hitting .334 with 16 long balls.

Junior reliever Matt Doherty maintains a perfect ERA while senior Garrison Stenger has stacked up 18 strikeouts.

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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