Texas A&M preview

Sophomore Austin Sexton has made eight starts and is second on the team with 42 strikeouts. (Mississippi State)

Sophomore Austin Sexton has made eight starts and is second on the team with 42 strikeouts. (Mississippi State)

Expectations have certainly changed concerning Mississippi State’s postseason chances.

The Diamond Dogs began the year 13-0 and climbed as high as No. 15 in the D1Baseball.com poll by Week 3. MSU has since lost 14 of its last 22 outings and plummeted to No. 121 in the initial NCAA RPI rankings released this week.

But the Bulldogs have a chance to improve their postseason outlook this weekend when it travels to No. 2 Texas A&M for a three-game series.

“There’s a lot of conference play left and the conference championship is still on the line,” said MSU right fielder Jake Vickerson. “Obviously we’re still shooting for that. We dug ourselves a little hole but we get to play all of the top teams so there a chance to gain some ground there. We just have to take it one game at a time.”

The series with the Aggies begins at 6:35 p.m. today followed by a 2:05 p.m. first pitch on Saturday and concludes Sunday at 1:05 p.m.

The Diamond Dogs are 5-7 in league play and snapped a string of three straight SEC series losses by taking two games at home from South Carolina last weekend.

“There’s no question our team has a sense of urgency,” said MSU coach John Cohen. “I think sometimes it’s too much and again, we have to back down from that. We have to play our best and find the combinations that will allow us to do so.”

One of the combos that has worked of late is Cody Brown and Vickerson at the top of the lineup. The 1-2 duo has combined to go 19-for-41 with seven doubles, seven RBI and 14 runs scored over the last five games.

State has had plenty of past success in College Station, owning a 7-1 record there. The Bulldogs swept on their previous trip to Texas A&M in 2013 by a combined score of 27-9.

Mississippi State holds a 12-6 lead in the overall series against the Aggies although Texas A&M claimed the final two games of last year’s series in Starkville.

The Aggies are 31-2 overall this spring and sit atop the SEC West standings with a 9-2 record. Rob Childress’ club swept two games at Kentucky last weekend and edged No. 15 Rice 4-3 in midweek play.

Texas A&M has won five straight games entering the weekend since a 3-2 loss to Missouri on March 28.

Friday: MSU LHP Lucas Laster (4-1, 2.53 ERA) vs. Texas A&M RHP Grayson Long (6-0, 2.45 ERA)
Saturday: MSU RHP Preston Brown (4-3, 4.18 ERA) vs. Texas A&M RHP Kyle Simonds (2-0, 0.00 ERA)
Sunday: MSU LHP Vance Tatum (3-1, 3.83 ERA) vs. Texas A&M LHP Matt Kent (6-0, 3.14 ERA)

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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