LSU preview

Junior Blake Smith had a three pitch strikeout on Wednesday to earn his fourth save. (Kelly Price/ Mississippi State)

Junior Blake Smith had a three pitch strikeout on Wednesday to earn his fourth save. (Kelly Price/ Mississippi State)

HOOVER, Ala., – Top-seeded Mississippi State had to wait into the wee hours of Thursday morning to learn their opponent for later tonight.

No. 5 seed LSU bested Florida 5-3 in 14 innings in a five hour, 17-minute affair to advance and play the Diamond Dogs in the late game at the SEC Tournament. It will be the Tigers’ third game in as many days.

The winner between MSU and LSU will receive a bye on Friday.

The Bulldogs moved on themselves by defeating Alabama 4-1 on Wednesday. Junior Zac Houston logged 8 2/3 strong innings on the mound and junior third baseman Gavin Collins went 4-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs to lead State’s 12 hit attack.

The Diamond Dogs are now 62-48 all-time at the SEC Tournament and are 9-7 against LSU at the event. Mississippi State last met the Tigers in Hoover in 2012, winning both games 3-2 and 4-3 in 10 innings en route to claiming the tournament title.

The Bulldogs are 211-173 all-time against LSU and are 2-1 against the Tigers this season. MSU took the series in Baton Rouge with 12-8 and 2-1 victories while the Tigers won the finale 11-8.

The Diamond Dogs (41-14-1) have won a dozen straight and are undefeated during the month of May.

John Cohen‘s club is batting .314 with 42 homers and averaging 6.8 runs per game. State maintains a .976 fielding percentage and are 50 of 62 on stolen base attempts.

SEC Freshman of the Year and Ferris Trophy winner Jake Mangum leads the conference with a .429 batting average while junior first baseman Nathaniel Lowe tops the Bulldogs with 78 hits, 19 doubles and 47 RBIs. Collins is the power threat with 10 homers while junior center fielder Jacob Robson is the leading base thief swiping 17 bases in 19 tries.

Mississippi State’s pitching staff has compiled a 3.29 ERA with 507 strikeouts and 184 walks over 505.1 innings of work. Opponents are hitting just .242 against them with 26 long balls.

Freshman Ryan Cyr sports a team-low 3.29 earned run average and junior Reid Humphreys has closed out seven of the Bulldogs’ 17 saves.

MSU will send junior right-hander and first team All-SEC selection Dakota Hudson to the mound against the Tigers. Hudson is 9-3 with a 2.29 ERA in 14 starts and leads the team with 101 strikeouts.

In his previous start against LSU, Hudson lasted 6 1/3 innings allowing seven runs on 12 hits but still managed to pickup the win.

The Tigers will counter with junior southpaw Jared Poche’, also making his 15th start. Poche’ is 6-4 with a 3.81 ERA, 64 strikeouts and 32 walks in 78 innings of work. He gave up six earned runs on eight hits in six frames of work against State on April 22.

Paul Mainieri‘s team is 41-17 and have won 13 of their last 14 games.

LSU is hitting .296 with 38 home runs and average 6.7 runs per game. The Tigers also sport a .976 fielding percentage and are 88 of 126 on stolen bases.

Freshman right fielder Antoine Duplantis leads LSU with a .336 batting average and 80 hits while junior catcher Jordan Romero has slugged nine home runs and sophomore infielder Greg Deichmann has driven in 43 runs. Junior center fielder Jake Fraley has swiped 25 bases in 33 attempts.

The Tigers’ hurlers have a 3.95 staff ERA with 477 strikeouts and 221 walks over 522 frames. Teams are batting .255 against them with 39 homers.

Freshman Brennan Breaux holds a flawless ERA while sophomore Alex Lange leads LSU with 107 strikeouts. Junior Hunter Newman has six of the Tigers’ 12 saves.

Tonight’s game will be televised on SEC Network and will begin 30 minutes following the Ole Miss-Vanderbilt game.

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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