STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State resumes Southeastern Conference Western Division baseball competition this weekend in Auburn, Ala., as the Bulldogs (20-25, 5-16 SEC) take on the high-powered Auburn Tigers (30-15, 12-9 SEC) in a three-game series at AU's Plainsman Park.
Friday's series-opener is set for 6:30 p.m. The teams also do battle Saturday at 3 p.m. and at 1:30 p.m. in Sunday's series finale. The radio broadcasts of all three games can be heard on the 14-station MSU Baseball Radio Network with live audio available online to subscribers of MSU's "Maroon the Max" (www.MStateAthletics.com/m2mlive).
Senior lefty Tyler Whitney (0-2, 484) is set to open on the mound for State Friday opposite Auburn's sophomore lefty Corie Luckie (5-2, 6.23).
Auburn, in the hunt for its first SEC Tournament berth since 2003, opens the weekend with an SEC-leading .348 team batting average and 187 extra-bases hits while plating better than nine runs per game. The Tigers are ranked as high as 19th this week (Baseball America) and become the seventh Bulldog opponent ranked in the top 20.
The series matches two of the SEC' top offensive stars --- Bulldog first baseman Connor Powers and Tiger junior first baseman Hunter Morris. Powers (.381) leads the SEC in RBI, second in doubles with 17 and third in total bases (122) and slugging percentage (.726). Morris (.394) paces the league total bases (143) and slugging percentage (.761) and ranks second in home runs (15) and RBI (58).
Powers' belted his 13th home run of the campaign Tuesday night, a solo shot against Jackson State, tying Jon Knott (1998-2001) for fourth in career home runs (51) and Will Clark (1983-85) for seventh in career RBI (199).
Junior third baseman Nick Vickerson (.331) of Tuscaloosa, Ala., one of nine Bulldogs from Alabama, opens the weekend riding a team-leading seven-game hitting streak.
Auburn took two of three games to win last year's series in Starkville (9-8, 3-8, 12-10). State holds an 89-80-1 all-time lead in the series, and the two clubs have evenly divided the past 24 meetings dating back to 2002.
State returns to Dudy Noble Field next week, closing out its 2010 home schedule with a Wednesday night matchup against Northwestern State and a three-game weekend series against SEC East foe Vanderbilt.