Years later, Lemonis back in Tennessee


Mississippi State’s Jake Mangum is close to becoming the all-time hits leader in school history.

Mississippi State’s Jake Mangum is close to becoming the all-time hits leader in school history. Photo by: Chris McDill/Special to the Dispatch






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When was the last time Mississippi State head baseball coach Chris Lemonis saw a game in Knoxville, Tennessee? April 25, 1995. 


Then an assistant at his alma mater, The Citadel, Lemonis was in his first year on the Bulldogs' staff. 


On the mound for the Volunteers that night was future five-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger award first baseman Todd Helton. 


"We had bases loaded, no outs in a 4-3 game," Lemonis said. "And Helton came in from first and got the save." 


Friday, Lemonis returns to Knoxville, this time in the maroon and white.  


MSU enters the 5:30 p.m. contest at 25-5 and winners in seven of its last 10 games. 


Freshman JT Ginn and redshirt junior Ethan Small will pitch the first two games of the series for the Bulldogs while senior Peyton Plumlee is slated to start game three. 


Lemonis said redshirt junior Keegan James could get some work out of the bullpen this weekend after going just 3.1 innings against University of Louisiana-Monroe on Wednesday night. 


"Keegan's been really good in those one-inning stints so we can use him in that way, too," Lemonis said. 


Friday's opener could spark some history for senior center fielder Jake Mangum. He is two hits shy of Jeffrey Rea's program record of 335 career hits. 


Mangum is also just 19 shy of LSU's Eddie Furniss' Southeastern Conference record of 352. 


Tennessee will come into the series at 22-8 following a Tuesday win over Belmont. 


Senior Will Neely and juniors Garrett Stallings and Zach Linginfelter will take the mound for the Volunteers. 


Stallings is the anchor of the staff with a 2.17 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in seven starts. 


Linginfelter has been similarly dominant, boasting a 3.82 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in eight starts. 


"It's one of the better pitching staffs in the country," Lemonis said. "They're all older. They've been around. It's some really talented arms."



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