With just three SEC weekend series left on the schedule, No. 4 Mississippi State (33-10, 14-7 SEC) finds itself just one game back of the Arkansas Razorbacks for first place in the Southeastern Conference. The Bulldogs have found some key answers since the Arkansas series and are riding high as the postseason nears.
Mississippi State Baseball: Brad Cumbest emerges as No. 4 State enters final stretch in thick of SEC title race
The emergence of Brad Cumbest has played a huge role in Mississippi State’s 16-3 record in April and into May. Cumbest has established himself as the everyday left fielder and given the Bulldog offense a much-needed boost from the bottom half of the lineup.
Cumbest is hitting .383 on the year with four home runs, hitting one in each of the last two games. If State wants to make a run for an SEC and even national title, the Maroon and White will need the dual-sport athlete to keep providing big hits and playing a clean outfield.
Scotty Dubrule has also picked things up as of late, as the first-year Bulldog has raised his batting average to .278. The former lead-off hitter has thrived in the middle of the lineup and gives State another threat for the left-handed batter’s box.
Defensively, Chris Lemonis is still trying to figure out the best formula. The infield has been somewhat of a revolving door of late, with Tanner Leggett getting starts at third base and Kamren James moving to a DH role. Leggett has been solid at the hot corner, having not committed an error since Game 1 against Auburn.
Luke Hancock started two games at first base last weekend against Texas A&M, replacing Josh Hatcher. Hatcher was used in the late innings as a defensive replacement in both contests. Kellum Clark could also factor into the first base situation at some point late in the season.
With all that being said, Mississippi State is playing its best ball of the year and looks poised to be a national seed. A big series with No. 19 South Carolina awaits this weekend, but the Bulldogs are the better team and should take care of business.
This team has firmly entrenched itself as one of the real contenders for the College World Series. The story will continue to be written over the next month for the 2021 Diamond Dawgs, and hopefully, it ends with a dogpile in Omaha.