Mississippi State baseball (22-19, 6-12 SEC) travels to Baum Stadium to take on No. 25 Arkansas (24-17, 9-9 SEC) this weekend in the start of what is three out of four series on the road for the Bulldogs to finish the season.
MSU needs to take this series to remain in contention for the SEC tournament, as they currently sit one spot out at 13th in the league standings.
Baum stadium has always been a difficult place to play, and it won't be any easier this weekend with the Razorbacks coming in red-hot.
Arkansas enters the weekend having won their last four series in a row, including a road series win at No. 1 Texas A&M last week. They are 18-9 at home this season.
Here are the players MSU will have to beat in order to scratch out a series win:
Andrew Benintendi (sophomore): You will get to watch someone who is likely a future first round draft pick in Benintendi play the Dogs this weekend. He is the man who drives the train when it comes to the Razorbacks' offense. Benintendi is a do it all player and has been ever since he started in the outfield as a true freshman. He has loads of power and speed and has a great eye at the plate. He leads the country with 14 home runs, leads the SEC with a .733 slugging percentage, and has stolen 19 bases in 22 attempts. He is hitting .370 with 42 RBI's and 43 runs scored. He is one of three players in college baseball with at least a .370 average, double digit home runs, and 30 or more walks. He is the reigning SEC player of the week. For a guy who is only 5-10, 180 pounds, Benintendi is a special talent.
Keaton McKinney (freshman): McKinney has probably been the most consistent starting pitcher on a unit that has struggled at times this season. While his 3.93 ERA is nothing spectacular, McKinney has only given up three or fewer runs in nine of his 10 starts and the Razorbacks have won the last six games he has pitched. He's definitely not a guy you would call an "ace" but he has pitched well as of late and gives Arkansas a better option than most opponents have on Sundays.
Tyler Spoon (redshirt junior): Spoon is a name most of you probably remember, as he has been starting in the outfield since as a freshman for the Razorbacks. He's been an extra-base machine this year hitting at a .353 clip with 15 doubles, four home runs, and 36 RBI's. He has recorded hits in 33 of his 39 games started this season.
Zach Jackson (sophomore): The big 6-4, 215 pound right-hander is the best pitcher in the bullpen for Arkansas on top of being the best strikeout pitcher on the team. He has a sharp breaking ball and a nasty change up to go along with a high-velocity fastball. Jackson is 3-0 with a 2.52 ERA in 35.2 innings pitched. He has fanned 49 batters but his 31 walks have been an issue. His opponent batting average is .200, better than any pitcher on the staff. Jackson leads the team with four saves.