The remainder of Mississippi State’s schedule will be an uphill climb if the Bulldogs are to make a postseason bid for a fifth consecutive season.
MSU will play three of its final four SEC series on the road and its lone home series against top-ranked LSU. The Diamond Dogs are currently 22-19 and 6-12 in conference play, which ranks 13th in the league standings.
State must finish at least 12th to reach the SEC Tournament and needs a .500 or better overall record to qualify for an NCAA Tournament bid. The Bulldogs have lost five of their first six SEC series including being swept at home by Florida last weekend.
“We just haven’t gotten a lot of breaks and haven’t been able to use everybody that’s available to us,” said MSU skipper John Cohen. “We just need to grow. We have some kids who need to grow into what we think they can be.”
Mississippi State travels to No. 25 Arkansas for a three-game set starting at 6:35 p.m. today. The series will continue Saturday at 6:05 p.m. and Sunday and 1:05 p.m.
Cohen hopes his club can put together a complete game on the road in Fayetteville, where the Diamond Dogs own a 16-17 record.
“We have defended really well and at times we’ve pitched really well,” Cohen said. “Now we need to put together some solid offensive ballgames to have a chance to win in a really great environment. I think Arkansas is one of the really good environments to play in the entire country.”
The Razorbacks (24-17, 9-9 SEC) have caught fire of late winning their last four SEC series and took two games at previously No. 1 ranked Texas A&M last weekend.
“They have some really good arms and the national player of the week,” Cohen said. “They’re doing some things really well.”
Sophomore centerfielder Andrew Benintendi leads the country with 14 home runs and has slugged seven in his last 13 games. Benintendi is the reigning SEC and national player of the week.
MSU did not have a midweek game scheduled and took advantage of time to get some extra practice work in, especially offensively.
“It allowed us to work on some things,” Cohen said. “It’s really hard to work on swings and things of that nature when you’re playing because the last thing in the world that you want is kids thinking about their swings when they’re trying to play in a baseball game. I think we’ve used our time.”
State leads the overall series 48-42 and won last year’s series in Starkville by taking a pair of 5-1 wins while the Hogs won the opener 4-0.
PROBABLE PITCHING ROTATION
Friday – MSU LHP Lucas Laster (4-3, 3.11 ERA) vs. Arkansas RHP Trey Killian (1-3, 5.87 ERA)
Saturday – MSU RHP Preston Brown (5-4, 3.71 ERA) vs. Arkansas RHP Dominic Taccolini (5-3, 4.97 ERA)
Sunday – MSU TBA vs. Arkansas RHP Keaton McKinney (3-1, 3.93 ERA)