Louisiana-Monroe preview

Mississippi State junior right fielder Cody Brown will return to his hometown of Biloxi tonight. (Kelly Price/ Mississippi State)

Mississippi State junior right fielder Cody Brown will return to his hometown of Biloxi tonight. (Kelly Price/ Mississippi State)

No. 6 Mississippi State is back in action tonight trying to get back on track after being swept at home by Texas A&M over the weekend.

The Bulldogs (24-12-1) will travel to take on Louisiana-Monroe at MGM Park in Biloxi at 7 p.m. It will be MSU’s first trip to the home of the Biloxi Shuckers, the Double-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Diamond Dogs are 26-7 all-time against ULM but lost the last meeting against the Warhawks 7-1 on the road during John Cohen’s first season in 2009. Mississippi State scored its only run on a solo homer by Ryan Duffy.

The Bulldogs are batting .315 with 28 home runs and averaging seven runs per game. MSU maintains a .975 fielding percentage and are 29 of 35 on steals attempts.

Freshman centerfielder Jake Mangum paces the Diamond Dog regulars hitting .433 and has only struck out six times in 90 at bats. Junior first baseman Nathaniel Lowe leads the team with 47 hits while junior third baseman Gavin Collins has slugged seven homers. Sophomore designated hitter Brent Rooker and junior left fielder Reid Humphreys are tied with 30 RBIs each and Jacob Robson has swiped 10 bases in 12 tries.

State’s pitching staff has compiled a 3.78 earned run average with 348 strikeouts and 135 walks in 333 innings. Opponents are hitting .254 against them with 21 long balls.

Freshman Ryan Cyr still has a flawless ERA while junior Dakota Hudson tops the team with 67 strikeouts. Humphreys has three of the Bulldogs’ seven saves.

State will start junior right-hander Zac Houston on the mound but is only expected to pitch one or two innings. It will be Houston’s third start and first since Feb. 28. He is 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA, 23 strikeouts and 12 walks in 18 innings.

The Warhawks counter with sophomore righty Keegan Curtis, making his second start of the spring. Curtis is 0-1 with a 10.61 ERA, 12 strikeouts and nine walks in 18 2/3 innings.

Louisiana-Monroe is 15-21 on the year and coming off a home series win against Georgia State taking the final two games 14-0 and 5-3. ULM is 0-1 against the SEC this season losing 3-1 to Arkansas in Little Rock last week.

Bruce Peddie‘s bunch is batting .242 with 22 homers and scoring 5.3 per game. The Warhawks sport a .957 fielding percentage and are 13 of 33 on base thefts.

Senior infielder Justin Crouch and junior outfielder Vincent Dellocono are both hitting .500 while senior right fielder Jacob Stockton and senior left fielder Nathan Pugh are tied for the team lead with 33 hits. Stockton is ULM’s power threat with four home runs and 23 RBIs. Pugh, a Starkville native, and junior centerfielder Cade Stone each have five steals.

Warhawk hurlers hold a 5.68 staff ERA with 259 strikeouts and 147 walks in 312 frames. Teams are hitting .284 against them with 24 homers.

Junior Anthony Herrera holds a team-low 1.86 ERA with five saves while Canadian junior Brayden Bochey has fanned 54. Former Mississippi State commitment Derek Martin, a junior, has an 18.00 ERA in one relief appearance this season for Louisiana-Monroe.

Tonight’s game will not be televised but can be heard on the MSU Baseball Radio Network with Jim Ellis on the call.

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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