LOGAN LOWERY: Bulldogs won’t mind hitting the road

LOGAN LOWERY

LOGAN LOWERY

STARKVILLE

For the fourth straight year Mississippi State will play in an NCAA Regional.

The Diamond Dogs will learn their destination at 11 a.m. today on ESPNU.

Unlike last year, MSU’s road to Omaha will not begin in Starkville, as the Bulldogs will be away in one of 16 regional sites that were announced last night.

Last season, State welcomed Central Arkansas, South Alabama and Mercer for the Starkville Regional, going 3-1 before sweeping Virginia on the road in the Charlottesville Super Regional. The Diamond Dogs went on to the College World Series from there, ending as the national runner-up.

Mississippi State has been projected as a No. 2 seed in several NCAA Regionals by various websites that cover college baseball. The most likely destinations for the Bulldogs appear to be Indiana, Louisiana-Lafayette, Miami or Louisville.

There is also a possibility of a return to Tallahassee, where the Diamond Dogs were ousted in 2012 despite never even facing host Florida State.

But no matter which NCAA Regional MSU ends up in, going on the road may not be such a bad thing.

The Bulldogs have played much better on the road down the stretch than they have at home. State was 15-10 away from Dudy Noble Field overall on the year including a 12-3 mark in the final 15 outings away from Starkville.

For whatever reason, Mississippi State just seems to play more carefree on the road – which has helped its offense, especially. It also doesn’t hurt that the Diamond Dogs have a better chance at hitting home runs away from the spacious expanses of Dudy Noble Field.

Return to Omaha?

When hired in 2009, John Cohen vowed to bring his alma mater back to baseball prominence. The first two years were a struggle as Cohen revamped the roster and missed the SEC tournament entirely.

But the last four seasons have been some of the program’s best.

It all began with a Super Regional berth in 2011 followed by the SEC tournament title and another regional appearance the next year. 2013 saw State attain new heights, finishing with a program-best No. 2 national ranking.

The Bulldogs began this year with plenty of high praise and have underachieved by some of their preseason expectations.

Mississippi State lost nine players to professional baseball off last year’s College World Series team. But there is still a multitude of talent remaining, and this time of year it is all about getting hot at the right time.

The Diamond Dogs are playing their best baseball of late, and if they can keep that up, another run to Omaha isn’t out of the question.

Logan Lowery (logan.lowery@journalinc.com) covers Mississippi State for the Journal. He blogs at InsideMSUSports.com