Two of the hottest teams in the SEC collide at Dudy Noble Field as part of Super Bulldog Weekend festivities when No. 2 Mississippi State hosts No. 6 Texas A&M this weekend, starting Friday at 6:30pm.
Game two is set for Saturday at 2pm, and game three is set for 1:30pm.
The Bulldogs (24-9-1) enter the contest after taking games two and three from Florida in Gainesville to win the series against the then-No. 1 Gators. Mississippi State kept the momentum going with an 11-1 midweek victory over Memphis. Mississippi State has won eleven of their last 15, including their last five series, four of which have been series victories over top-eleven teams: No. 10 Oregon, at No. 2 Vanderbilt, No. 11 Ole Miss and at No. 1 Florida. A series win over Texas A&M would give Mississippi State five consecutive SEC series victories for the first time since 1999.
Texas A&M (26-7) come to Starkville on a four-game winning streak. The Aggies were swept in Gainesville, but rebounded to sweep the Georgia Bulldogs in their following SEC series. Texas A&M pounded Abilene Christian 10-4 in a midweek game.
Right now, the Bulldogs are clicking on the mound and at the plate. As of Thursday, the Bulldogs ranked top-12 nationally in four offensive categories: doubles (83-sixth in the nation, first in the SEC), hits (382-fifth in the nation, first in the SEC), batting average (.319-eleventh in the nation, second in the SEC), and on base percentage (.413-twelfth in the nation, first in the SEC). Reid Humphreys is seventh in the nation with 15 doubles, good for tops in the SEC.
On the mound, the Bulldogs have been equally impressive. Mississippi State's pitchers are eighth in the nation and fourth in the SEC with 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings. Led by junior Dakota Hudson, who is second in the SEC with a 1.68 ERA, the Bulldogs boast the best conference games only team ERA at 3.60.
Texas A&M has put up impressive numbers of their own during the season as well.
Hunter Melton is currently on fire for the Aggies. The reigning SEC player of the week is on a ten-game hitting streak that has seen him bat at a .500 (20-for-40) clip. During the streak, he has picked up four doubles, one triple, four homers, 14 RBIs, and scored eight times. He crushed Georgia last weekend with three homers and ten RBIs in the series sweep.
On Friday, look for Texas A&M to send Brigham Hill (4-0, 1.42) to the mound. Hill will be making his second career weekend start and his eighth start of his career. He went 6.1 innings, giving up three hits while striking out eight against Georgia for his first weekend start and victory of his career. He also went three innings to pick up a save against LSU.
Mississippi State will counter Friday with Dakota Hudson (4-2, 1.68 ERA). Hudson has held opposing hitters to a .205 bating average, good for sixth in the SEC. Before losing to Florida last weekend, Hudson went the distance against Ole Miss, picking up eleven strikeouts on his way to victory.
The Bulldogs expect to throw Austin Sexton (3-1, 3.28) Saturday against the Aggies. Sexton has been dominate in his last four starts at home, with a 0.30 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 37 innings pitched. He was credited with a no decision against Florida after four innings at work. In his start before that, he went nine innings, striking out eight to get the complete game win against Ole Miss.
The Aggies will counter with Jace Vines (5-0, 3.77). He has picked up victories in four of his six starts of the season, including wins against LSU and Georgia. In his last outing, he went eight innings against Georgia, giving up one run on eight hits while striking out seven. Vines has also held leadoff hitters to a .186 batitng average.
Texas A&M will throw Kyle Simonds (6-1, 3.35) on Sunday. He went 8.2 innings in his last start, against Georgia, striking out seven while giving up two runs on seven hits. This will be his 14th career start. On the season, Simonds boasts a 3.55 strikeout to walk ratio
Mississippi State has yet to announce a starter for Sunday, but against Florida, Konnor Pilkington drew the start, the first weekend start of his career. He gave up three hits in four innings, and he did not allow a run. Zach Houston (2-0) came in and pitched 3.1 innings in relief to pick up with win, and Humphreys went the last 1.2 to earn the save, his third of the season.
With the Bulldogs on fire, there has been talk that the Saturday contest could break the current attendance record held by Mississippi State. While no official push has been made, all Bully's Kids Club members and students will be able to get into this weekend's games for free.