The Mississippi State Bulldogs resume Southeastern Conference play tonight facing the 7th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks on the road.
The defending national champions enter the series with a 24-10 overall mark and a 5-7 conference record, while the Bulldogs are coming off an SEC series win over Vanderbilt. MSU holds an 21-12 record and 5-7 SEC record.
Tonightâ€™s action features two of the top pitchers in the SEC in Bulldog righty Chris Stratton who carries a 7-0 record and a 2.54 ERA and senior lefty Michael Roth of the Gamecocks with a 3-0 mark and a 1.98 ERA.
â€śStratton is going to have days he feels great and is pitching well,â€ť Mississippi State head coach John Cohen said of Stratton who leads the league with his seven wins and 67 strikeouts.Â â€śThere are going to be some days where itâ€™s not going to be as good but certainly his consistency has been as good as anybody in our league. Weâ€™re thrilled to have him throwing on Friday nights for us. This is what we envisioned when he was part of our very first recruiting class at Mississippi State.â€ť
At the plate, the Bulldogs are paced by sophomore Daryl Norris with a .386 batting average. Norris returned to the MSU lineup last weekend in the role of the designated hitter as he continues to recover from an early season knee injury. Norris provided a spark for the Bulldogs by delivering the walk-off double in Sundayâ€™s win over the Commodores.
Adam Frazier continues to swing a hot bat for MSU as well with a .356 batting average. Stateâ€™s shortstop also leads the team with 29 runs scored this season.
Defensively, the Bulldogs open the weekend leading the Southeastern Conference with 40 double plays.Â The MSU pitching staff has tallied the SEC's third-most strikeouts, 304, while Bulldog hitters have been struck by a pitch 54 times, also third-most in the league.
As the Gamecock ace, Roth leads the league in innings pitched 54.2 and has held opponents to a .174 batting average.Â He is joined on the mound by Matt Price and Jordan Montgomery. Price leads the league in opponent batting average with a .158 and has a 3-3 record and a 3.14 ERA.
Montgomery is currently the leagueâ€™s freshman of the week.Â He has a 2-0 record with a 2.70 ERA in seven appearances.
Christian Walker will no doubt be on the MSU radar as one of the top hitters in the conference. The junior first baseman carries a .355 batting average, seven home runs and 35 RBI. In conference play, his is fourth in the league with a .474 on-base percentage.
Tonightâ€™s first pitch is set for 6 p.m.Â in Columbia, S.C.
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