South Alabama preview

Jacob Robson ranks fifth in the nation with 15 walks. (Kelly Price/ Mississippi State)

Jacob Robson ranks fifth in the nation with 15 walks. (Kelly Price/ Mississippi State)

No. 20 Mississippi State will experience a quick turnaround after its west coast road trip over the weekend.

After winning a game, losing a game and tying a game in Los Angeles as part of the Dodger Stadium Classic, the Diamond Dogs return home to take on South Alabama at 6:30 p.m. tonight.

Mississippi State lost 2-1 at UCLA, defeated USC 8-7 and tied Oklahoma 5-5 after travel restrictions prevented the game from going into extra innings.

The Bulldogs are 44-23 all-time against South Alabama and have won six of the last seven meetings.

MSU lost to the Jaguars 8-7 in 11-innings in Mobile last year after blowing a 5-0 lead.

MSU is 8-3-1 on the year and collectively hitting .323 with six home runs and averaging 7.3 runs per game. The Diamond Dogs also rank second nationally with 37 doubles. John Cohen‘s club also maintains a .981 fielding percentage and is 19 of 21 on stolen base attempts.

Junior designated hitter Jack Kruger leads the nation with nine doubles while also topping the team with a .511 batting average, 23 hits, three homers and 18 RBIs. Junior centerfielder Jacob Robson is a perfect 8-for-8 on steal attempts.

State’s pitching staff sports a 3.00 earned run average with 117 strikeouts and 42 walks over 105 innings. Opponents are hitting .237 against them with five long balls.

Blake Smith, Ryan Cyr, Ryan Rigby, Konnor Pilkington, Jared Padgett and Paul Young all have perfect ERA’s while Dakota Hudson leads the Bulldogs with 23 strikeouts. Smith, Reid Humphreys and Kale Breaux have recorded Mississippi State’s three saves.

Breaux, a freshman left-hander, is slated to make his first career start tonight. Breaux is 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA, three strikeouts and three walks in 3.1 innings and three outings this spring.

South Alabama counters with senior righty Hunter Soleymani, who is making his third start of the year. Soleymani is 1-0 with a 3.65 ERA, 12 strikeouts and three walks in 12 1/3 frames.

The Jaguars (9-3) lost a series at home to Middle Tennessee over the weekend but has already defeated Georgia (3-1) and Southern Miss (9-3, 4-2) this season.

Mark Calvi has seen his club hit .268 so far with eight homers and score 6.5 runs a game. USA holds a .985 fielding percentage and have been successful on 10 of 17 base thefts.

Sophomore shortstop Drew LaBounty is the Jaguars top hitter with 16 hits, a .400 batting average 14 RBIs and three steals. Junior right fielder Adam Wolfe has went deep twice to lead the club.

The Jaguars hurlers have a 3.21 staff ERA with 90 strikeouts and 31 walks in 112 innings. Their opposition has hit .247 against them with eight home runs.

Ryne Long, John Barr and John Schmits hold flawless ERA’s while Kevin Hill sports 31 strikeouts for South Alabama. Closer Shane McKinley has a pair of saves.

Former MSU pitcher Avery Geyer is also on the Jaguars staff. Geyer signed with the Diamond Dogs in 2014 and redshirted that season before transferring to Northwest Florida State Junior College. The redshirt sophomore right-hander has made one relief appearance allowing a run on two hits and recording two strikeouts.

Tonight’s game can be streamed on SEC Network +.

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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