CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - Riding a modest season-best five-game win streak, Mississippi State takes to the road and meets its first ranked opponent of the 2010 campaign Friday in opening round competition at the fifth annual Whataburger College Classic in Corpus Christi, Texas. Sunny weather and warm temperatures are forecast for Corpus Christi throughout the weekend.
The Bulldogs (9-3) take on 15th-ranked Big 12 power Oklahoma (13-1) at 2 p.m. (CST) Friday at Whataburger Field, the home of the Corpus Christi Hooks, the Houston Astros' Class AA Texas League franchise. The Sooners enter the three-day event riding an eight-game winning streak and are off to their best start since 1985.
Sophomore lefty Nick Routt (0-0, 3.86), the team's 2009 leader in innings pitched, wins and strikeouts, is scheduled to open on the hill for State, while Oklahoma, the designated home team in Friday's contest, will open with junior right-hander Zach Neal (1-0, 6.60).
Mississippi State is making its first baseball visit to Corpus Christi and its first trip to Texas since posting a 2-2 mark on a 2007 road trip to Waco and Dallas.
UCLA (10-0), off to its best baseball start in the modern era, meets Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 6 p.m. (CST) in Friday's second game. The Bulldogs tangle with the Bruins Saturday at 5 p.m. (CST) and then close out the weekend with a Sunday doubleheader set to begin at 3 p.m. (CDT).
The Bulldogs erupted for six runs in the fifth inning Wednesday to turn back Western Kentucky 9-4 and register their fifth straight win of the year. Senior first baseman Connor Powers (.383), who leads the SEC with seven home runs and 28 RBI, and junior outfielder Jaron Shepherd (.304), drove in three runs each to pace State to the win. Shepherd is one of four Texas junior college transfers on the MSU club.
Team hitting leader and starting senior outfielder Luke Adkins (.405) enters the weekend with a team-best seven-game hitting streak.
Following Thursday's practice sessions, seniors Russ Sneed and Ryan Duffy represented Mississippi State in the Classic's home run derby at Whataburger Field. Both Bulldogs hit one home run in the first round, but Sneed launched four second round blasts, including three consecutive fence-clearing shots, to reach the finals with two other players. TAMU-Corpus Christi's Matt Holland then hit two home runs in a playoff to take top honors.
The radio broadcasts of the Bulldogs' four games game in Corpus Christi will be carried by WFCA-FM (107.9) in French Camp, Miss., and available on the internet (MStateAthletics.com/m2mlive). Additionally, the opening game of Sunday's 3 p.m. (CDT) doubleheader will be carried on the 14-station MSU Baseball Radio Network.
The Bulldogs and the Sooners have met twice previously in baseball, splitting a pair of games in the 1992 NCAA Mideast Regional held at MSU's Dudy Noble Field.