In 1989 Mississippi State set the NCAA on-campus attendance record with a crowd of 14,991 at Dudy Noble Field.
In fact, the Bulldogs own all of the top 10 on-campus crowds in NCAA history. This weekend MSU plans to set a new attendance benchmark while hosting in-state rival Ole Miss for Super Bulldog Weekend.
The series gets underway tonight at 6:30 p.m. and resumes at 3 p.m. Saturday on FSN following the MSU football spring game. Game 3 is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. first pitch on Sunday.
The Diamond Dogs lead the series 242-199-5 and are 120-78-1 in Starkville against Ole Miss. The two Magnolia State rivals split four games last season with each team scoring 20 total runs in the 2013 meetings.
State enters the weekend at 21-13 and 6-6 in conference play. The Bulldogs were swept last weekend at LSU, losing their first SEC series this season. John Cohen’s club bounced back with a 4-3 win over another in-state opponent, Southern Miss, 4-3 in 11-innings Tuesday night at Trustmark Park in Pearl.
Mississippi State is batting .262 on the year with six home runs and averaging 4.9 runs per game. The Diamond Dogs maintain a .984 fielding percentage which ranks third nationally and are 48 of 64 on stolen base attempts.
Senior centerfielder Derrick Armstrong tops the team with a .333 batting average and is 12-for-29 in his last eight outings. Armstrong also leads MSU with 11 steals. Senior second baseman Brett Pirtle has collected 41 hits while junior first baseman Wes Rea has slugged three homers and driven in 25 runs.
The Bulldogs pitching staff has compiled a 3.10 earned run average with 287 strikeouts and 112 walks in 302 innings. Their opponents are hitting just .247 against them with six long balls.
Junior reliever Jacob Lindgren sports a team-low 1.12 ERA while also topping the team with 44 strikeouts. Junior All-American Jonathan Holder has notched four of State’s 10 saves on the season.
The Diamond Dogs will shuffle its pitching staff with sophomore right-hander Preston Brown scratched from the rotation for the second straight weekend due to injury. Instead junior All-American southpaw Ross Mitchell (5-2, 1.54 ERA, 28 K, 14 BB) will take the mound for his first career Friday night start hoping to continue a string of four consecutive quality starts.
Junior right-hander Trevor Fitts (2-2, 3.41 ERA, 41 K, 7 BB) will take the mound on Saturday with Sunday’s starting role still undecided. Senior righty Ben Bracewell (2-2, 2.48 ERA, 33 K, 8 BB) and junior right-hander Brandon Woodruff (1-2, 4.12 ERA, 23 K, 17 BB) are the leading candidates for that role.
Bracewell pitched four innings in a start against USM on Tuesday and Woodruff followed with 3 1/3 frames of relief.
Woodruff, a Wheeler native, has not started since March 7. In four relief appearances he has thrown 10 2/3 shutout innings giving up just four hits and three walks with 10 strikeouts.
Ole Miss will counter with three starting pitchers all making their ninth starts of the year. Junior right-hander Chris Ellis (4-0, 1.88 ERA, 33 K, 16 BB) will take the mound first tonight followed by sophomore southpaw Christian Trent (4-0, 2.41 ERA, 46 K, 6 BB). Junior righty Sam Smith (4-2, 2.22 ERA, 27 K, 9 BB) gets the nod in Sunday’s finale for the Rebels.
No. 19 Ole Miss is 27-8 overall on the year and are 7-5 in conference play. The Rebels have won six straight after sweeping Auburn at home last weekend and winning a pair of midweek games including a 8-5 home win over Murray State on Wednesday.
Mike Bianco’s bunch are batting .304 with 24 homers and are scoring 5.9 runs an outing. Ole Miss is fielding at a .974 clip and is 58 of 73 on base thefts.
Junior infielder Kyle Toth sports a team-high .500 batting average while senior shortstop Austin Anderson and senior designated hitter Will Allen have 47 hits apiece. Junior first baseman Sikes Orvis is the Rebels long ball leader with seven while Allen has 38 RBI. Junior centerfielder Auston Bousfield is a perfect 12 of 12 on stolen base tries.
Ole Miss’ hurlers have a 2.21 staff ERA with 272 strikeouts and 90 walks over 322 frames. Their opposition is hitting just .219 against them with nine home runs.
Sophomore Preston Tarkington, junior Hawtin Buchanan and senior Scott Ashford have all maintained a flawless ERA while Trent tops the club in strikeouts. Junior Josh Laxer has closed out four games for the Rebels.