Once again this week, the “weekend” comes early for Alabama in Southeastern Conference baseball. The Crimson Tide makes the relatively short trip to Starkville for a three-game series with Mississippi State at Dudy Noble Field beginning at 6 p.m. CDT Thursday (today) with SEC Network televising the game.
Games two and three are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday.
SEC play has not gone well for the Crimson Tide this year. Alabama is 15-22 overall and 2-13 in SEC games. The Tide has been swept in three of its conference series (including last weekend in Tuscaloosa against Texas A&M) and has lost the other two by 2-1 margins. Mississippi State is 25-14 overall and 10-5 in the conference as the Bulldogs has won four of its five SEC series, including sweeps of Tennessee and Ole Miss.
As was the case earlier this year, normal first game weekend starter Jake Walters is not listed in the probable rotation. Walters, who had some arm trouble earlier this season, conceivably could be in action Saturday as the Tide has not listed a starter for that game.
Left-handed sophomore Dylan Duarte is scheduled to go against State’s lefty soph Konnor Pilkington in Thursday’s opener. The listed Friday starters are senior right-hander Nick Eicholtz for Alabama Friday and sophomore right-hander Cole Gordon on Friday. The Bulldogs will pitch right-handed redshirt junior Jacob Billingsley on Saturday with Bama’s starter to be announced by Coach Greg Goff.
As Alabama, Mississippi State has a first-year head coach in Andy Cannizaro.
The Tide is coming off an 18-1 win over Alcorn State, while MSU was beaten 5-2 at South Alabama Tuesday.
Alabama and Mississippi State will meet for the 413th time in series history when the two teams square off for the opener on Thursday evening. The Crimson Tide holds the all-time advantage, 215-193-4, but the Bulldogs have the upper hand at home, a 108-80-2 mark in games played in Starkville.
Alabama has won four of the last five series played in Starkville, including a 2-1 series victory when the two teams last met at Dudy Noble Field in 2015.
The series dates from 1896, when Mississippi State was known as Mississippi A&M.
Following the trip to Starkville, Alabama will be home for a midweek non-conference game against Jacksonville State in Sewell-Thomas Stadium next Tuesday.