Memphis preview

Mississippi State left-hander Jared Padgett has pitched in four games as a true freshman. (Kelly Price/ Mississippi State)

Mississippi State left-hander Jared Padgett has pitched in four games as a true freshman. (Kelly Price/ Mississippi State)

Before No. 2 Mississippi State begins a top 10 showdown with sixth-ranked Texas A&M for Super Bulldog Weekend, the Bulldogs host Memphis tonight at 6:30 p.m. in a makeup game from Feb. 23.

MSU (23-9-1) just won its fourth consecutive SEC weekend series at then No. 1 Florida while Memphis (12-20) was also in the Sunshine State taking two games in a series at South Florida.

State is 52-26 all-time against Memphis, although the Tigers have taken the last two meetings. Memphis won 7-1 at AutoZone Park last year with the Bulldogs scoring their only run on a sacrifice fly from Jacob Robson.

John Cohen‘s club is hitting .318 with 23 home runs and scoring 7.1 runs per game. Mississippi State maintains a .977 fielding percentage and is 29 of 35 on steal attempts.

Freshman centerfielder Jake Mangum leads the Diamond Dog regulars with a .437 batting average while Robson tops the team with 42 hits and 10 stolen bases. Junior third baseman Gavin Collins is MSU’s biggest power threat with five homers while junior catcher Jack Kruger has driven in 27 runs.

The Bulldogs’ pitching staff has compiled a 3.39 earned run average with 315 strikeouts and 122 walks in 297 innings. Opponents are hitting just .241 against them with 19 long balls.

Freshman Ryan Cyr still has a flawless ERA with junior Dakota Hudson leads State with 59 strikeouts. Junior Reid Humphreys has recorded three of the Diamond Dogs’ seven saves.

State will start freshman right-hander Keegan James on the mound tonight. James is 2-0 with a 2.87 ERA, seven strikeouts and four walks and is making his fourth start. The Tigers counter with freshman righty James Muse, who is 0-2 with a 10.13 ERA, 14 strikeouts and 12 walks. It will be Muse’s fifth career start.

Tonight will be a homecoming for Memphis head coach Daron Schoenrock and pitching coach Russ McNickle. Schoenrock was the pitching coach for the Diamond Dogs from 2002-04 and McNickle served in the same capacity from 2005-08 and was a graduate assistant in 1989-90.

Memphis lost 9-7 in 10 innings against Austin Peay at home on Tuesday.

The Tigers are batting .258 as a team with 17 homers and averaging 5.4 runs. Memphis sports a .960 fielding percentage and is 51 of 65 on base thefts.

Senior right fielder Jake Little tops the Tigers batting .322 with 39 hits and three home runs. Sophomore first baseman Jacob Elliott, junior second baseman Brandon Grudzielanek and junior left fielder Chris Carrier also have three long balls with Grudzielanek leading with 25 RBIs. Junior centerfielder Darrien Tubbs is 11 of 12 on stolen base attempts.

Memphis hurlers hold a 4.84 ERA with 204 strikeouts and 121 walks in 281 innings of work. Their opposition is hitting .265 against them with 15 homers.

Junior Blake Drabik, freshman Alex Smith and sophomore Trevor Sutton all have perfect ERA’s while sophomore Colton Hathcock is the Tigers’ strikeout leader with 45. Junior closer Nolan Blackwood has finished all five of the team’s saves.

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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