Governor’s Cup preview

Sophomore outfielder Cody Brown is one of four Bulldogs batting over .300 this season. (Mississippi State)

Sophomore outfielder Cody Brown is one of four Bulldogs batting over .300 this season. (Mississippi State)

Mississippi State will go for its third straight win in the Governor’s Cup when the Bulldogs take on rival Ole Miss at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Trustmark Park in Pearl.

MSU is 5-3 all-time in the Governor’s Cup and own an 18-17 edge in the Mayor’s Trophy/ Governor’s Cup series in the Jackson area.

Last year the Diamond Dogs claimed an 8-3 triumph and outhit the Rebels 11-3. State catcher Gavin Collins went 3-for-4 at the plate and Vance Tatum picked up the win on the mound tossing 3 2/3 shutout innings of relief.

The Bulldogs lead the all-time series against Ole Miss 244-201-5. Tonight’s contest is considered a non-conference game.

Mississippi State enters the game with a 23-21 overall record after snapping a six-game losing skid on Sunday with a 2-1 victory at Arkansas. The Diamond Dogs are just 10-21 since beginning the season 13-0.

MSU is also seeking to end a three-game midweek losing streak beginning with a 3-0 loss to Southern Miss in Pearl.

John Cohen‘s club is batting .273 with 19 home runs and averaging 5.4 runs per game. State maintains a .977 fielding percentage and has swiped 39 bases in 53 tries. The Bulldogs are also second in the nation in turning double plays.

Sophomore centerfielder Jacob Robson leads the Diamond Dogs with a .353 batting average, 53 hits and 17 steals. Sophomore left fielder Reid Humphreys has belted five home runs while senior first baseman Wes Rea has driven in 30 runs.

Mississippi State’s pitching staff has compiled a 4.06 staff earned run average with 329 strikeouts and 149 walks in 390.1 innings. Their opponents are hitting .258 against them with 30 long balls.

Senior closer Trevor Fitts sports a team-low 1.69 ERA along with six saves. Sophomore Austin Sexton leads the team with 51 strikeouts.

Senior southpaw Ross Mitchell will start his first game of the season tonight. Mitchell is 3-2 with a 4.30 ERA, 14 strikeouts and 11 walks in 18 relief appearances. He won the 2013 Governor’s Cup game by tossing six shutout innings and allowing just two hits.

Ole Miss will send Scott Weathersby to the mound, also making his first start of the spring. Weathersby is 2-1 with three saves, a 2.16 ERA, 40 strikeouts and seven walks in 13 relief appearances.

The Rebels are 23-22 on the year and are coming off a series win against Alabama at home. Ole Miss won a doubleheader on Saturday 10-2 and 4-0 but fell to the Crimson Tide 13-4 in the finale on Sunday.

Mike Bianco‘s bunch is batting .262 with 27 homers and scoring 5.1 runs a game. The Rebels sport a .969 fielding percentage and are 42-of-64 on base thefts.

Junior left fielder Connor Cloyd paces Ole Miss at the plate with a .423 batting average while sophomore centerfielder J.B. Woodman tops the team with 46 hits. Senior first baseman Sikes Orvis has slugged nine home runs and senior catcher Austin Knight has collected 39 RBI. Junior right fielder Cameron Dishon is the top base thief with 15 steals in 15 attempts.

The Rebels’ hurlers have a 4.18 staff ERA with 324 strikeouts and 135 walks in 398.2 innings of work. Their opposition is hitting .262 against them with 27 homers.

Senior Scott Ashford and junior Sean Johnson still have flawless ERA’s while sophomore Brady Bramlett leads the team with 68 strikeouts. Sophomore Wyatt Short has recorded six of Ole Miss’ 13 saves this season.

Tonight’s game will not be televised but can be heard on the MSU Baseball Radio Network with Jim Ellis on the call.

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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