May 28, 2014 3:56:37 PM
STARKVILLE -- Trevor Fitts will throw the first pitch for Mississippi State in the 2014 Lafayette Regional Friday afternoon.
Sources inside the Mississippi State baseball program have confirmed the junior right-hander will get the Game 1 start against San Diego in the first game of the NCAA Regional hosted by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
MSU will be going to a new destination for its 34th NCAA tournament appearance. The Bulldogs (37-22) were selected to play in the 2014 NCAA Lafayette Regional on the campus of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. MSU's first game will be 1 p.m. Friday against Mountain West Conference tournament champion San Diego State (42-19).
Louisiana-Lafayette (53-7) will play Southwest Athletic Conference tournament champion Jackson State (31-23) at 6 p.m. after the MSU/SDSU game is completed.
Cohen suggested on his call-in show Monday evening at Buffalo Wild Wings that San Diego State's right-handed dominant lineup would call for a right-handed arm to start the NCAA Regional opener.
Fitts (4-3, 2.51) has the most starts of the 2014 season with 15 but hasn't gone further than 6 2/3 innings in any start. In Fitts' last three starts (vs. Tennessee, at Alabama and vs. South Carolina) he has not gotten out of the fourth inning and this move by the MSU coaching staff would suggest a major role for arguably the SEC's best reliever Jacob Lindgren.
Lindgren was named Tuesday as MSU's only representative on the first-team All-Southeastern Conference team and the only relief pitcher in the group.
Perfect Game named Lindgren the 45th-best prospect in the 2014 Major League Baseball draft. In addition, Lindgren was named a finalist for the C Spire Ferriss Trophy, which is given to the top collegiate player in the state of Mississippi. MLB.com's draft analyst Jonathan Mayor named Lindgren the 41st-best prospect in the draft, saying it's "unlikely that he'll last past the second round of the draft."
Lindgren leads all relief pitchers nationally in strikeouts thanks to a overpowering fastball-slider combination and he leads all pitchers overall with a 16.8 strikeouts per nine innings.
San Diego State, the Mountain West Conference tournament champions, is expected to start sophomore right-hander Bubba Derby (8-3, 2.69) against MSU Friday afternoon. Derby went 5-2 in league play with a 3.13 earned run average while leading the Aztecs in both of those categories in Mountain West action. His ERA was sixth-best among league hurlers and he finished second in conference play in strikeouts and sixth in strikeouts looking.
If the top two seeds of the regional can advance into the winners bracket Saturday, MSU would likely turn to junior left-hander Ross Mitchell against UL-Lafayette.
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
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