Mississippi State Baseball opens regional play against St. John's

Mississippi State baseball will begin their postseason run against St. John's tonight in the Charlottesville regional.
Mississippi State pitcher Khal Stephen (14) pitches against Ole Miss at Swayze Field in Oxford, Miss., on Friday, Apr. 12, 2024.
Mississippi State pitcher Khal Stephen (14) pitches against Ole Miss at Swayze Field in Oxford, Miss., on Friday, Apr. 12, 2024. / Bruce Newman/Special to the Clarion

The road to Omaha starts now. Mississippi State baseball is making its first appearance in a regional since 2021. After a 38-21 season, the Diamond Dawgs are in Charlottesville as the 2-seed. They'll begin the tournament against Big East champion St. John's.

Game Time and TV Broadcast

6:00 pm CT on ESPN+

St. John's season overview

St. John's is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2018. The Johnnies have improved each season under HC Mike Hampton, and 2024 was their breakthrough year, going 37-16-1 and 14-7 in the Big East. They opened the year with a win over Florida, earned good series wins over Xavier and Creighton, and went 3-0 in the Big East Tournament to clinch a regional appearance.

St. John's has been a strong pitching team

Pitching is the Johnnies' strength. They were towards the top of the Big East with a team ERA of 4.26. Either Mario Pesca or Xavier Kolhosser will take the mound for St. John's, both right-handers. Pesca earned 1st Team All Big East honors and boasts a 2.94 ERA. Kolhosser was 9-2 this season with a 3.61 ERA. Out of the pen, righty Tim Cunningham has been their top reliever, making 31 appearances with a 2.77 ERA and a 40/13 K/BB ratio.

Keenan leads St. John's lineup

St. John's won't blow you away with gaudy hitting numbers, but they've been solid. As a team they're batting .286. They don't hit much for power (41 home runs), but they have racked up plenty of doubles (115) and triples (21). Catcher Jimmy Keenan is far and away the best hitter, batting .341 with 11 homers and 55 RBI. Third-baseman Blake Mayberry and Left-fielder Garrett Scavelli are both batting at least .330 with a combined 72 RBI.

St. John's knows how to grind out wins

The word best used to describe the Johnnies is "scrappy". They're a team that's simply found ways to win this year, going 9-4 in one run games. They won't shrivel-up if things are tight late. Mississippi State on the other hand has suffered 12 one run losses.

If at all possible, the Bulldogs need to get up early in this one and can't waste whatever opportunities they have to plate runs (as they unfortunately have in many cases). Because if it's close in the final few innings, St. John's might have the edge.