Diamond Classic Spiced With 2012 NCAA Tourney Teams

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Photo Courtesy of hailstate.com

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Three teams that concluded their 2012 seasons in NCAA postseason play converge on Dudy Noble Field this weekend when No. 5 Mississippi State (5-0) entertains Purdue and Samford in the inaugural Diamond Classic presented by Polk's Meat Products.

The three-day, double round-robin tournament begins Friday at 2:30 p.m. when the defending Big Ten Conference champion Purdue Boilermakers (2-2) square off against the Samford Bulldogs (4-1), winners of last year's Southern Conference baseball tournament. Mississippi State closes out the opening day's competition at 6 p.m. against Purdue. Purdue hosted an NCAA regional last spring in Gary, Ind., while Samford joined MSU in the 2012 NCAA Tallahassee Regional.

Individual game general admission tickets ($5) good for admission to both games of each daily session will be available at the stadium ticket office when gates open two hours prior to the first game Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There is open seating at Dudy Noble Field for all non-conference games, with season ticket patrons maintaining protected rights to their stadium seats.

Saturday's game times are set for 3 p.m. (MSU vs. Samford) and 6 p.m. (MSU vs. Purdue) while play concludes Sunday with games at 11 a.m. (Purdue vs. Samford) and 2:30 p.m. (MSU vs. Samford).

Live audio and multi-camera video streaming for all four Diamond Classic games will be available online to HailStateTV subscribers (http://www.hailstate.com/hstvlive). MSU's 6 p.m. tourney-opener against Purdue Friday launches the 40-game broadcast schedule of the MSU Baseball Radio Network. A network of 19 radio stations in Mississippi and neighboring states will carry this year's lineup of 30 SEC games and 10 select non-conference night games. The MSU broadcast team features Jim Ellis, in his 35th season as the "voice of the Diamond Dogs", and Bart Gregory.

West Point's WKBB-FM (100.9), flagship station for the MSU network will carry the non-network game broadcasts of the tournament Saturday while Columbus' WNMQ-FM (103.1) will carry the call of Sunday's MSU game with Samford.

Solid play overall, particularly on the mound, has characterized Mississippi State's early play this season. The Bulldog pitching corps has allowed three runs, all of them earned, in 45 innings of pitching, leading to a remarkable 0.60 earned run average. The Bulldogs have pitched shutouts in their last two games and sophomore relief ace Jonathan Holder has registered four strikeouts and a save in each of his two relief stints.

Sophomore lefty Jacob Lindgren (1-0, 1.50) will open on the hill for State against Purdue, working opposite Boilermaker freshman lefty Jordan Minch. Right-handers Evan Mitchell and Kendall Graveman are scheduled to open on the hill in Saturday's game with sophomore righty Will Cox set for Sunday's finale.

Senior catcher Mitch Slauter (.538) and junior infielders Daryl Norris (.417) and Adam Frazier (.400) have taken the early lead among Bulldog batsmen, who as a team are hitting at a .329 clip. With assists on all eight Bulldog double plays turned through five games, Frazier paces an MSU defense that has committed but one error in 196 chances (.995).



Friday, February 22

2:30 p.m. --- Samford vs. Purdue

6 p.m. --- MSU vs. Purdue

Saturday, February 23

3 p.m. --- MSU vs. Samford

6 p.m. --- MSU vs. Purdue

Sunday, February 24

11 a.m. --- Purdue vs. Samford

2:30 p.m. --- MSU vs. Samford



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