HOOVER, Ala. --- Mississippi State begins defense of its 2012 SEC Tournament title Tuesday when the 13th-ranked and fifth-seeded Bulldogs (40-16/16-14 SEC) square off against league newcomer Missouri (18-31/10-20 SEC) in opening round competition in the 2013 SEC Baseball Tournament at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
MSU and No. 12 seed MU meet in the final game of Tuesday’s single-elimination round of competition immediately following the 4:30 p.m. battle between eighth-seeded Florida (29-27/14-16 SEC) and the SEC’s other 2013 newcomer, ninth-seeded Texas A&M (30-25/13-16 SEC). Tuesday’s winners advance to double-elimination competition Wednesday, with the State-Missouri winner facing No. 4 seed South Carolina (39-16/17-12 SEC). Top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Vanderbilt opens Wednesday’s evening session with a 4:30 p.m. matchup with the Florida-Texas A&M winner.
The Bulldogs’ SEC Tournament opener will be televised by Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS). The radio broadcast of all of Mississippi State’s postseason competition will be heard on the statewide Bulldog Sports Network and available online to HailstateTV subscribers (http://www.hailstate.com/hstvlive).
Sophomore right-hander Trevor Fitts (0-0, 1.65) from nearby Helena, Ala. (Pelham High School) open on the mound for State in his second career start and 21st career appearance. Fitts made his debut as a starter a week ago, working 3.0 innings to lead a split pitching staff in MSU’s 3-2 win over Oral Roberts. Missouri, which nailed down an SEC Tournament berth in its first year in the SEC with a 2-1 series showing against Kentucky, has tabbed junior lefty Rob Zastryzny (2-9, 3.64) as its opening night starter.
Fitts is one of seven Mississippi State players from neighboring Alabama. That list includes senior infielder Sam Frost from Hoover, Ala., making his third career trip “home” for SEC postseason play.
Mississippi State is playing in its 29th SEC Baseball Tournament, second-most SECT appearances in the league. The Bulldogs posted a 5-1 record during a grueling six-game, six-day run a year ago to claim the program’s seventh SEC Tournament crown.
The Bulldog offense is sparked by junior outfielder Hunter Renfroe (.362, 51 RBI, SEC-leading 15 home runs), Monday named the recipient of the 2013 C Spire Ferriss Trophy as the Magnolia State’s top collegiate baseball player. Junior Adam Frazier (.338, team-high 79 hits), a semi-finalist for the 2013 Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Award, enters the tournament riding a seven-game hitting streak. Frazier anchors the Bulldog defense with a league-leading 197 assists and assists on 51 of State’s 63 double plays.
Tuesday’s game is State’s second meeting all-time with the Missouri Tigers. The Bulldogs claimed a 10-5 win in the 2003 NCAA Starkville Regional held at Dudy Noble Field.