Southern Miss preview

Mississippi State freshman right fielder Jake Mangum is hitting .519 during the month of March. (Kelly Price/ Mississippi State)

Mississippi State freshman right fielder Jake Mangum is hitting .519 during the month of March. (Kelly Price/ Mississippi State)

It’s in-state rivalry week for Mississippi State baseball.

The 11th-ranked Bulldogs will battle both Southern Miss and Ole Miss beginning with the Golden Eagles at Trustmark Park in Pearl tonight at 6:30 p.m. MSU hosts the Rebels this weekend.

The Diamond Dogs lead the series 78-37 against USM including a 5-3 mark at the home of the Mississippi Braves. However, the Golden Eagles shutout State 3-0 last year.

The Bulldogs are 12-8 all-time at Trustmark Park.

MSU (17-7-1) has won five of its last seven games including a home series win against Georgia over the weekend. State won 9-2 on Thursday and 3-1 on Friday before dropping Saturday’s finale 11-8.

John Cohen‘s club is hitting .311 on the year with 17 home runs and scoring 7.2 runs per game. The Bulldogs rank fourth nationally with 62 doubles. Mississippi State also maintains a .979 fielding percentage and is 26 of 32 on stolen bases.

Freshman right fielder Jake Mangum leads the Diamond Dog regulars with a .400 batting average while junior centerfielder Jacob Robson tops the team with 36 hits and is 10 of 12 on base thefts. Junior third baseman Gavin Collins has clubbed four homers while junior designated hitter Jack Kruger and sophomore left fielder Brent Rooker have each driven in 23 runs.

MSU’s pitching staff sports a 3.58 earned run average with 249 strikeouts and 102 walks in 226 innings. The Diamond Dogs hurlers are also fourth in the country with averaging 9.9 strikeouts a game. Opponents are hitting .243 against them with 15 homers.

Freshman Ryan Cyr has a perfect ERA while junior Dakota Hudson tops the team with 45 strikeouts. Junior Reid Humphreys has two of the Bulldogs’ six saves on the spring.

The Diamond Dogs will send freshman left-hander Konnor Pilkington to the mound tonight for his third start. Pilkington is 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA, 12 strikeouts and four walks in a dozen innings of work.

USM counters with junior righty Mason Walley, making his first start of the season. In three appearances, Walley is 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA, six walks and six strikeouts.

The Golden Eagles are 19-6 on the year after sweeping a home series against Texas-San Antonio over the weekend by a combined score of 30-9.

Scott Berry‘s bunch is batting .313 with 33 homers and averaging 7.5 runs. Southern Miss sports a .973 fielding percentage and has swiped 14 bases in 30 tries.

Junior infielder Tracy Hadley leads the Golden Eagles hitting .462 while senior centerfielder Jake Sandlin has collected 38 hits. Sophomore third baseman Taylor Braley has slugged eight home runs while senior first baseman Tim Lynch has knocked in 29 runs. Senior shortstop Nick Dawson and sophomore outfielder Daniel Keating are tied for the team lead with four steals each.

Braley, senior Bryan Coughlin, and freshman J.C. Keys still have flawless ERA’s while sophomore Kirk McCarty is USM’s strikeout leader with 38. Senior Cody Livingston has closed out half of the team’s eight saves.

Tonight’s game will not be televised or streamed. It can heard on the MSU Radio 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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