April 10, 2019 10:06:02 AM
By BEN PORTNOY
Following a victorious road trip to Tennessee, the Mississippi State baseball team is back in Starkville for a 6:30 p.m. Wednesday matchup against South Alabama at Dudy Noble Field.
MSU has yet to name a starter but freshman Eric Cerantola is a strong candidate to do so.
Redshirt junior Keegan James is likely out of the discussion after being thrust into action Sunday when freshman JT Ginn was pulled after just one inning with some discomfort.
The same can be said for senior Peyton Plumlee, who pitched 5.1 innings Saturday.
Lemonis will likely save redshirt junior Ethan Small for Friday's start against Alabama, especially if Ginn's condition persists.
That leaves Cerantola as the only real starter available. The hard-throwing Canadian has shown flashes of top-flight ability, but he's struggled with control. He hasn't lasted more than 0.2 innings in his previous two starts.
"We have to develop him for the future," head coach Chris Lemonis said. "And if we can find the right spot, trying to get him out there and letting him have some success."
Offensively, sophomores Tanner Allen and Rowdey Jordan have exemplified their freshman selves of late.
Allen and Jordan both notched home runs in Sunday's game three win over Tennessee, marking the first time the duo has done so in the same game this season.
"Those two left-handed bats are huge for us moving forward," Lemonis said in an MSU Athletics release Sunday.
South Alabama comes into the contest at 14-17 and 4-8 in the Sun Belt Conference.
Freshman Ethan Wilson and redshirt sophomore Michael Sandle will bolster the Jaguars offense.
Wilson is the lone South Alabama batter with a batting average above .300 and leads the team with seven home runs, while Sandle sits second on roster in batting average at .289.
Sandle also enters Wednesday's game with a seven-game on-base streak.
Following tonight's game, the Diamond Dawgs remain home to face Alabama in a three-game set, which is a part of Super Bulldog Weekend.
The Dawgs and Crimson Tide open at 6:30 p.m. Friday, followed by games at 3 on Saturday and Sunday.
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