Mississippi State travels to Trustmark Park in Pearl tonight for the first of two games there.
The Diamond Dogs meet instate rival Southern Miss at 6:30 p.m. looking to extend their six-game winning streak against the Golden Eagles.
It will be the eighth time the Magnolia State rivals have met at the home of the Mississippi Braves with MSU owning a 5-2 edge at the venue. The Diamond Dogs lead the overall series 79-36.
State claimed a 4-3 11-inning victory against USM in Pearl last season. Brett Pirtle paced the Bulldogs at the plate going 3-for-4 with three singles. Derrick Armstrong scored the game-winning run on a wild pitch with the bases loaded.
The Bulldogs are 12-6 all-time at Trustmark Park.
Mississippi State is 18-8 on the year after losing its second straight SEC series to Kentucky over the weekend. Following 10-2 and 9-7 losses, the Diamond Dogs were able to salvage the Sunday finale with a 12-5 victory.
John Cohen‘s club is hitting .286 with 13 home runs and scoring 6.7 runs per game. MSU is also second nationally with 152 walks. State maintains a .974 fielding percentage and has swiped 31 bases in 39 tries. The Bulldogs lead the country in double plays turned with 32.
Sophomore centerfielder Jacob Robson leads the Diamond Dog regulars with a .436 batting average, 34 hits and is 15-of-19 on stolen bases. Sophomore designated hitter Reid Humphreys has slugged four homers while senior first baseman Wes Rea has driven in a team-best 17 runs.
Mississippi State’s pitching staff has compiled a 3.71 earned run average with 214 strikeouts and 92 walks in 233 innings. Their opponents are hitting .247 against them with 17 long balls.
Redshirt freshman reliever Levi Mintz holds a team-low 1.04 ERA while sophomore Austin Sexton tops the Diamond Dogs with 36 strikeouts. Senior Trevor Fitts has closed out four of MSU’s six saves on the year.
State will send senior southpaw Lucas Laster (3-0, 2.35 ERA, 24 K, 5 BB) to the mound opposed by Southern Miss senior right-hander James McMahon (4-0, 1.31 ERA, 26 K, 10 BB). McMahon is a former Mississippi State commitment.
The Golden Eagles are 13-8-1 on the year after splitting at Louisiana Tech over the weekend winning 13-4 and losing 2-1. The final game of the three-game series was rained out.
Southern Miss is 1-0 against the Southeastern Conference this season, defeating Ole Miss 5-1 in Hattiesburg.
Scott Berry‘s bunch is batting .266 with a dozen homers and averaging 5.4 runs. The Golden Eagles sport a .970 fielding percentage and are 31-of-42 on base thefts.
Junior utility man James Lear holds a team-high .500 batting average while senior centerfielder Connor Barron leads the team with 29 hits. Junior first baseman Tim Lynch is USM’s power threat with four long balls while senior designated hitter Matt Durst tops the club with 16 RBI. Barron and senior shortstop Michael Sterling are both 8-of-11 in steals.
The Golden Eagle hurlers have a 2.28 team ERA with 149 strikeouts and 63 walks in 193.1 innings of work. Their opposition is also hitting just .247 against them but have surrendered only five home runs.
Junior relievers Clay Tageant and Nick Johnson still hold a flawless ERA while Cody Carroll leads the team with 34 strikeouts. Senior closer Ryan Milton has four of Southern Miss’ five saves this spring.
Tonight’s game will not be televised but can be heard on the MSU Baseball Radio Network.