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Big crowds are expected at Dudy Noble this weekend as No. 8 MSU welcomes No. 2 LSU in a big top 10 battle.
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Courtesy: John R. Cade

No. 8 Diamond Dogs Open SEC Slate Hosting No. 2 LSU

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March 14, 2013
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STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State ushers in its 79th season of SEC baseball competition this weekend at Dudy Noble Field when the Bulldogs (18-2) welcome longtime divisional rival LSU (16-1) to Starkville for a three-game series. The Friday opener in the battle between top 10-ranked SEC Western Division teams is set for 6:30 p.m. (CDT).

Stadium gates and ticket windows open two hours prior to each game, with general admission ($10) tickets available for all three games and limited chairback reserved seat tickets ($15) available while supplies last for Sunday's game.

Both the Bulldogs and the Tigers claimed SEC baseball titles last year. LSU, with a 19-11 league record, won the SEC Western Division and overall league championship, while Mississippi State posted a 5-1 worksheet over six days in Hoover, Ala., to capture the 2012 SEC Baseball Tournament crown.

In their first game away from home this season, the No. 8 (Collegiate baseball) Bulldogs bested Southern Miss 13-5 Tuesday night before 6,948 fans at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss. State opened the 2013 campaign with 17 wins and is off to its best start since 2006. LSU, ranked second in the same Collegiate Baseball poll, ran its current win streak to 10 games Wednesday night with a 9-3 home win over Nicholls.

This weekend's series features a number of firsts for Mississippi State. With LSU the Bulldogs are taking on their first nationally-ranked opponent in 2013. The MSU-LSU matchup rates as the first pairing of top 10-ranked teams at Dudy Noble Field since SEC opening weekend in 2006 when the No. 6 Bulldogs claimed both wins in a rain-shortened series against a Tennessee team ranked fifth. Saturday's 6 p.m. game, televised by Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS), Cox Sports TV and other cable systems, is the first of 11 scheduled television appearances for State this season.

The radio broadcast of all three MSU-LSU games will be carried on Mississippi State's statewide baseball radio network. Live multi-camera video streaming of the Friday and Sunday games and live audio streaming for the entire series will be available online to HailStateTV subscribers (http://www.hailstate.com/hstvlive).

MSU sophomore lefty Jacob Lindgren (2-0, 0.96) will be matched with LSU sophomore right Aaron Nola (2-0, 2.77) in Friday's opener. The Bulldogs are expected to stay with the same weekend rotation used over the first four weekends of the season the remainder of the weekend. Junior right-hander Evan Mitchell (0-0, 2.30) gets the ball for Saturday's TV game and senior righty Kendall Graveman (1-1, 2.61) will open on the hill in Sunday's 1:30 p.m. series finale.

State enters the weekend sporting a league-best .324 batting average and SEC-leading totals in hits (214), doubles (36), triples (9) and runs (147). LSU, right behind at .321, has cranked 13 home runs and has fashioned a conference-best .464 slugging percentage.

Junior outfielder Hunter Renfroe (.436) has registered 12 extra-base hits, including five home runs, and leads the SEC with a .873 slugging percentage. Junior shortstop Adam Frazier is tied for second in the SEC with 31 hits, two off the league lead and ranks first with 22 runs scored.

The Bulldog pitching staff has fashioned a 1.84 staff earned run average and leads the SEC with 190 strikeouts Bulldog relief pitchers Ross Mitchell and Luis Pollorena, both 4-0, share the conference lead in wins while sophomore relief ace Jonathan Holder, with six saves to his credit, is tied for the early SEC lead in successful game closures.

LSU leads the SEC with a .980 fielding percentage, with the Bulldog defense just off the pace at .975. The MSU defense has turned 28 double plays.

 

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