No. 16 Mississippi State returns to mid-week action for the first time since conference play began hosting Southeast Missouri tonight at 6:30 p.m.
The Bulldogs won a series against Vanderbilt over the weekend but lost the Sunday finale 5-1 falling to 17-9 on the year. Mississippi State outscored the Commodores 24-10 on the weekend.
Tonight will be the fifth matchup between MSU and Southeast Missouri with the Bulldogs winning all four previous meetings in Starkville. State won 13-3 and 10-4 in 1997 and also 3-2 and 10-7 in 10 innings as part of the BankFirst Baseball Challenge in 2010.
State is the only Southeastern Conference school that the Redhawks have never beaten.
John Cohen’s club enters the evening hitting .267 with five home runs and scoring 5.6 runs per game. The Diamond Dogs maintain a .984 fielding percentage and have swiped 42 bases in 54 attempts.
Senior right fielder Demarcus Henderson leads Mississippi State with a .333 batting average and is 9-of-9 on steals. Junior first baseman Wes Rea has clubbed three home runs and knocked in 23 runs while senior second baseman Brett Pirtle tops the team with 31 hits
The Bulldogs pitching staff has compiled a 2.88 earned run average with 219 strikeouts and 89 walks in 231 innings. Their opponents are hitting .249 with four long balls.
Sophomore Preston Brown sports a team-low 1.12 ERA while junior Trevor Fitts has fanned 37 batters. Junior All-American Jonathan Holder has notched three saves this season and is one shy of sole possession of third place in the SEC career record books.
State will start freshman right-hander Austin Sexton, who is 1-0 with a 4.85 ERA, 11 strikeouts and nine walks in 13 innings. In two starts, Sexton has not allowed a run and opponents are batting just .167 against him.
SEMO will send sophomore southpaw Alex Winkelman to the mound for his fourth start. Winkelman is 0-2 with a 6.91 ERA this season with 16 strikeouts and 12 walks over 14.1 frames.
The Redhawks come into the contest at 14-9 having lost a weekend series at home against Morehead State. SEMO salvaged the Sunday contest 7-1 but have lost three of the last four.
Steve Bieser’s squad is hitting .306 with 11 home runs and averaging seven runs per game. The Redhawks are fielding at a .971 clip with 36 steals in 43 tries.
Sophomore catcher Scott Mitchell sports a .444 batting average which ranks eighth nationally. Senior first baseman Matt Tellor is the power threat in the lineup with five long balls while fellow senior designated hitter Derek Gibson has collected 25 RBI. Sophomore shortstop Andy Lack is Southeast Missouri’s top base thief and is perfect in seven stolen base attempts.
The Redhawk hurlers have a 4.48 team ERA with 154 strikeouts and 99 walks in 203 innings. Their opposition is batting .266 against them with seven homers.
Senior reliever Skylar Cobb has a team-low 2.08 ERA while junors Tyler Iago and Christian Hull are tied with 25 strikeouts each for SEMO. Junior Garrett Stockton has closed out four of the Redhawks 10 saves but also sports a team-high 8.31 ERA.
Tonight’s game will not be televised but can be heard on the MSU Baseball Radio Network with Jim Ellis and Bart Gregory on the call.