Mississippi State’s first road trek of the year has a bit of a postseason atmosphere.
The 20th-ranked Bulldogs are out in Los Angeles where they will face three different opponents in as many days in the Dodger Stadium Classic. MSU will meet No. 21 UCLA at 8 p.m. CT tonight, No. 22 USC at 4 p.m. on Saturday and Oklahoma at 1 p.m. Sunday.
“It’s got kind of a regional feel to it,” said MSU coach John Cohen. “What makes it different than a normal regional is that in a normal regional you’re at one site but here we’re playing at three sites in three days which will make it different for our kids. I think it’s a great experience and makes our club better win, lose or draw.”
The Diamond Dogs (7-2) will visit both UCLA and USC’s home ball parks and take on the Sooners inside Dodger Stadium. State trails the series against the Bruins 6-1, the Trojans 5-1 and Oklahoma 2-1.
Tonight’s outing is a rematch of the 2013 College World Series Championship in which UCLA swept the Bulldogs to claim the national title.
The Bruins are 3-5 on the year having lost two straight at Cal Poly 6-2 and at UC Santa Barbara 11-6.
UCLA will start sophomore right-hander Griffin Canning (1-0, 2.25 ERA) on the mound while the Diamond Dogs counter with junior righty Dakota Hudson (1-0, 1.64 ERA).
USC is 5-3 so far this spring having won its last two. The Trojans are coming off a 7-4 victory at Long Beach State on Tuesday. Junior right-hander Austin Sexton (1-1, 2.63 ERA) will draw the start for Mississippi State while USC goes with junior southpaw Bernardo Flores (0-0, 6.75 ERA).
Oklahoma 4-5 on the campaign, snapping a three-game skid with a 3-0 win over Central Arkansas on Tuesday. The Sooners will send junior lefty Austin Kerns (1-1, 5.62 ERA) to the bump while MSU has not announced a starting pitcher.
Cohen will likely choose between juniors Daniel Brown or Zac Houston as the team’s third weekend starter.
This weekend will be a homecoming of sorts for two members of the Bulldogs’ roster. California natives Gavin Collins (Lake Forest) and Jack Kruger (Calabasas) will return to the west coast to play in front of a host of friends and family.
“We expect to go out and dominate on the west coast as show them how the SEC and Mississippi State does it,” Collins said.