Top-seeded Mississippi State had to wait a while to learn its opponent this afternoon for Game 4 of the Starkville Regional.
No. 2 seed Cal State Fullerton and No. 3 seed Louisiana Tech had their game suspended in the bottom of the seventh due to lightning and rain with both teams still scoreless. The Titans were able to scratch across a run to win 1-0 when play resumed at 10 a.m. Saturday morning.
Cal State Fullerton advanced to play the Bulldogs in the winner’s bracket at 6:30 p.m. tonight while Louisiana Tech takes on Southeast Missouri State in an elimination game at 1:30 p.m. today.
After moving its game time back on Friday, MSU (42-16-1) claimed a 9-5 victory over the Redhawks and also avoided the weather delays that came later in the evening. The Diamond Dogs hit three home runs in the contest – two by sophomore designated hitter Brent Rooker and an inside the park job by junior catcher Jack Kruger.
Mississippi State is no stranger to the Titans. Cal State Fullerton owns a 5-1 record against the Bulldogs including a 4-1 advantage in the NCAA Tournament. The Titans won both of the previous meetings in Starkville during the 1988 South Regional. MSU’s only win in the series came in 1979 College World Series.
John Cohen‘s club is batting .313 with 45 home runs and scoring 6.6 runs per game. The Diamond Dogs maintain a .974 fielding percentage and has swiped 50 bases in 62 attempts.
Freshman right fielder Jake Mangum paces Mississippi State and the Southeastern Conference with a .425 batting average while junior first baseman Nathaniel Lowe leads the team with 83 hits, 20 doubles and 48 RBIs. Junior third baseman Gavin Collins has clobbered 10 homers while junior center fielder Jacob Robson is 17-of-19 in steals.
The Bulldogs’ pitching staff has compiled a 3.45 earned run average with 531 strikeouts and 197 walks through 529.1 innings of work. Opponents are hitting only .246 against them with 26 long balls.
Freshman Ryan Cyr sports a staff-low 1.04 ERA while junior Dakota Hudson leads the team with 109 strikeouts. Junior Reid Humphreys has recorded seven of MSU’s 17 saves on the spring.
The Diamond Dogs have not named a starter for tonight’s contest but Cohen mentioned freshman left-hander Konnor Pilkington (3-1, 2.08 ERA) and junior right-handers Austin Sexton (7-3, 3.83) and Zac Houston (5-0, 1.93) as possibilities.
Cal State Fullerton also hasn’t released its starting pitcher for tonight.
The Titans are 36-21 on the year having won the Big West Conference championship. Cal State Fullerton is making its 38th NCAA Tournament appearance including its 25th straight. The Titans advanced to the College World Series last year.
Rick Vanderhook‘s roster is hitting .265 on the spring with 25 homers and averaging 4.8 runs an outing. Cal State Fullerton holds a .977 fielding percentage and is 62-of-83 in the stolen base department.
Senior first baseman Dalton Blaser and freshman designated hitter Jake Pavletich are tied for the team lead with a .364 batting average with Blaser topping the Titans with 72 hits and 38 RBIs. Junior shortstop Timmy Richards is the biggest power threat with nine long balls while senior left fielder Josh Vargas is the top base thief with 14 steals in 15 tries.
Cal State Fullerton’s hurlers led by one-time MSU pitching coach candidate Jason Dietrich hold the nation’s lowest ERA at 2.17. Titan pitchers have records 490 strikeouts and 145 walks in 517.2 innings of work. Teams are batting only .209 against them with 23 home runs.
Junior Dylan Prohoroff holds a team-low 0.68 ERA while sophomore Connor Seabold is Cal State Fullerton’s strikeout leader with 94. Junior Scott Serigstad has closed out four of the Titans’ 13 saves.
Today’s game can be streamed on ESPN3.com.