No. 20 Mississippi State travels to Trustmark Park in Pearl once again taking on 16th-ranked Ole Miss at 6:30 p.m. tonight in the Governor’s Cup.
It will be the eighth annual Governor’s Cup with the Bulldogs holding slight 4-3 edge in the series following a 5-1 win last year at the home of the Mississippi Braves. A record crowd of 8,240 saw MSU claim last year’s game behind six hits and six innings of shutout relief from Ross Mitchell.
The series is tied at 17 since the inception of the Mayor’s Trophy and Governor’s Cup games in the Jackson metro area.
The Diamond Dogs will be the home team tonight and will occupy the third base dugout. The outcome of the game will not affect the league standings and will serve as a non-conference contest.
State leads the all-time series 243-201-5 and is 32-24-1in neutral site games against the Rebels. Ole Miss took two games from Mississippi State in Starkville earlier this season 6-1 and 12-2 on Super Bulldog Weekend. The Diamond Dogs 6-5 victory on April 12 came in front of a NCAA record crowd of 15,586.
MSU is 26-15 on the year and have won four straight outings. The Bulldogs swept Missouri in a three-game road series over the weekend by winning a pair of 11-innning games and a 6-2 contest.
John Cohen’s club enters tonight’s game hitting .270 with seven home runs and scoring 5.1 runs. State maintains a .982 fielding percentage and is 58 of 75 on stolen base attempts.
Senior left fielder Derrick Armstrong leads the Diamond Dogs with a .337 batting average and leads the team with 13 steals. Senior second baseman Brett Pirtle has collected 52 hits and is riding a 10-game hitting streak. Junior first baseman Wes Rea has slugged three home runs and driven in 28 runs.
Mississippi State’s pitching staff has compiled a 3.36 earned run average with 340 strikeouts and 135 walks in 370 innings. Opponents are hitting .256 against them with seven long balls.
Junior reliever Jacob Lindgren holds a team-low 1.50 ERA and is also the strikeout leader with 57. Junior All-American Jonathan Holder has closed out four of the Bulldogs 11 saves on the year.
Junior left-hander Lucas Laster will make his first career start tonight. The JUCO transfer has made four relief appearances this season with a 4.76 ERA, six strikeouts and no walks in 5 2/3 innings of work.
Ole Miss will counter with senior southpaw Jeremy Massie (2-2, 2.34 ERA, 25 K, 8 BB) on the mound making his seventh start of the year.
The Rebels are 30-11 this season after losing a series to LSU at home over the weekend. Mike Bianco’s bunch was shutout for the first time this season in the rubber game of the series 2-0 on Sunday.
Ole Miss comes into the contest hitting .303 with 27 homers and averaging 5.8 runs. The Rebels sport a .975 fielding percentage and are 69 of 85 on base thefts.
Junior infielder Kyle Toth leads the team with a .500 batting average while junior centerfielder Auston Bousfield has recorded 61 hits. Junior first baseman Sikes Orvis has blasted nine home runs while senior catcher Will Allen has collected 42 RBI. Junior left fielder Braxton Lee is Ole Miss’ top base thief swiping 21 bases in 24 tries.
The Rebels’ hurlers have a 2.10 staff ERA with 313 strikeouts and 106 walks in 380.2 frames. Their opposition is batting just .226 against them with 10 long balls.
Sophomore Preston Tarkington, junior Hawtin Buchanan and senior Scott Ashford all have flawless ERA’s out of the bullpen while sophomore Christian Trent is Ole Miss’ strikeout leader with 54. Junior Josh Laxler has notched four of the Rebels nine saves.
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.