Mississippi Valley State preview

Senior second baseman John Holland has made one start this spring. (Kelly Price/ Mississippi State)

Senior second baseman John Holland has made one start this spring. (Kelly Price/ Mississippi State)

No. 15 Mississippi State is back in action tonight following a SEC opening series win at previously second-ranked Vanderbilt over the weekend.

The Diamond Dogs (14-6-1) return home to take on Mississippi Valley State at 6:30 p.m. prior to their first SEC home series against Georgia, which begins on Thursday.

MSU is 24-0 all-time against the Delta Devils, last winning a 14-2 contest in Starkville in 2013 in which Hunter Renfroe and Brett Pirtle homered.

John Cohen‘s club is hitting .303 on the spring with 14 home runs and scoring 6.9 runs per game. The Bulldogs maintain a .978 fielding percentage and are 24 of 27 on stolen base attempts.

Junior designated hitter Jack Kruger tops the team with 29 hits, 10 doubles and 21 runs batted in. Junior third baseman Gavin Collins has belted four homers while junior centerfielder Jacob Robson is 10 of 10 on steals.

State’s pitching staff sports a 3.65 earned run average with 211 strikeouts and 85 walks in 190 innings. The Bulldogs sit sixth nationally averaging 9.99 strikeouts per nine innings. Opponents are batting .235 against them with 13 long balls.

Freshman Ryan Cyr still holds a perfect ERA while junior Dakota Hudson leads the club with 40 strikeouts. Junior Reid Humphreys has recorded two of Mississippi State’s six saves.

The Diamond Dogs will send freshman left-hander Konnor Pilkington to the mound tonight for his second start. Pilkington holds a 1.29 ERA with six strikeouts and four walks in seven innings of work and has not factored into a decision.

MVSU will counter with senior righty Cecil Hodges, making his seventh start of the season. Hodges, a former Itawamba Community College product, is 1-4 on the year with a 9.82 ERA, 19 strikeouts and 21 walks in 33 frames.

Mississippi Valley State is 4-13 on the spring, having lost five straight. The Delta Devils were swept at Alabama State over the weekend by a combined score of 41-5.

Aaron Stevens‘ team is hitting .226 on the year with seven home runs and averaging 4.6 runs. MVSU sports a .923 fielding percentage and are 27 of 42 on base thefts.

Junior pitcher/ catcher Arrington Smith leads the Delta Devils batting .333 with 18 hits, six doubles, two homers and 11 RBIs. Junior centerfielder and West Point native Edward Cox is the team’s top base thief with a dozen steals in 18 tries.

Mississippi Valley State’s hurlers have an 8.75 ERA with 74 strikeouts and 82 walks in 143 innings of work. Its opponents are hitting .361 against them with 19 long balls.

Senior Drew Wheeler, a Mooreville and ICC product, holds a flawless ERA for the Delta Devils while Smith tops the team with 20 strikeouts. Freshman Cole Gullette of Caledonia notched the team’s only save.

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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