April 3, 2019 11:19:40 AM
The No. 8-ranked Mississippi State baseball team is back in action Wednesday against Louisiana-Monroe.
Fresh off their first series loss of the season, and dropping six spots in the national rankings, the Bulldogs will look to bounce back before a weekend series against Tennessee in Knoxville.
First pitch at Dudy Noble Field is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Redshirt junior pitcher Keegan James will start for the Bulldogs. James enters the matchup with a 2-1 record and a 4.03 ERA.
His name has been tossed around as a solution end of the rotation starter issues despite coming out of the bullpen Saturday against LSU. He has reached five innings just twice in his six starts this season.
Where James and the rest of the pitching staff could use help is on defense. The Bulldogs totaled seven errors in their 2-1 series loss to LSU. The team now has 33 errors in 29 games -- an average of 1.12 per contest.
To combat the issue, Lemonis said on his weekly radio show Monday that the team has been practicing catching fly balls with music blasting in the background to simulate away ballparks.
"We cut up the music really loud and for every miss you run a lap," Lemonis said. "For some reason the 'every miss you run a lap,' we get a lot better at it real quick."
Offensively, MSU is continuing to swing the bat well, having totaled 10 or more hits in seven of its past 10 games.
Senior center fielder Jake Mangum attributed much of the struggles at the plate against the Tigers to not finding holes with the balls MSU did connect with.
"We hit eight or 10 balls extremely hard right at somebody," Mangum said. "You can't get too much into it. I mean, a couple of those balls could have fallen for us. Their ground balls found holes, our line drives went right at people."
Beginning a stretch in which it will play seven of its next eight games on the road, ULM will turn to junior lefty Cole Martin to start in Starkville.
Martin has a 6.43 ERA in seven appearances this year -- including a March 19 4.1 inning, 2-hit, 2-run outing against Southern Mississippi.
Junior outfielder Trent Tingelstad and senior utility player Chad Bell will anchor the Warhawks offense.
Tingelstad ranks fifth in the Sun Belt Conference with a .374 and places first in on-base percentage at .512.
Bell will offer some power for the ULM lineup, having hit three of his six homeruns on the year last week.
Ben Portnoy reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @bportnoy15.
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