Diamond Dogs Host Vols, ESPNU Thursday In SBW Opener
Thursday's game has been designated as "white-out" night at Dudy Noble Field, with fans encouraged to wear white garb for greatest visibility during the nationally-televised event. Fans are also invited to take advantage of a unique open grandstand seating offer for the midweek TV game. MSU students and general admission ticket holders will be granted access to the grandstand Thursday night for seating in unoccupied chairback seats. Season ticket holders, however, retain first priority on their chairback seats.
The evening will begin with new Bulldog head basketball coach Rick Ray throwing out a ceremonial first pitch and wrap up with a postgame fireworks display staged near Chadwick Lake.
SEC strikeouts and wins leader Chris Stratton (7-0, 2.98) will open on the mound for the Bulldogs. Tennessee will counter with another junior right-hander, Zack Godley (4-2, 3.81). Stratton, from Tupelo, Miss., leads the league and ranks third nationally with a career-best 78 strikeouts. He is positioned to become the first Bulldog hurler to register a 100-strikeout season since current Chicago Cubs pitcher and first-round draft pick Paul Maholm fanned 101 in 2003.
The Bulldog pitching staff opened the week ranked third in the nation and tops in the SEC with 338 strikeouts. State also ranks among the nation's leaders in double plays turned after registering their league-leading 43rd twin-killing in the midweek.
The Tennessee series wraps up a rugged stretch of seven consecutive games against SEC opponents over a nine-day span. State continues SEC play at home next weekend hosting instate SEC rival Ole Miss (Apr. 27-29).
Sophomore Adam Frazier (.347) from Bishop, Ga., leads the Diamond Dogs in several offensive categories. The Bulldog infielder paces the club with 51 hits, 30 runs scored and 29 walks and shares (with first baseman Wes Rea) the club lead with 11 doubles. Rea, from Gulfport, Miss., paces MSU with 14 extra-base hits, 28 RBI and leads the SEC with 388 defensive chances. Frazier and Rea are the lone Bulldogs to have started all 37 games this season.
State swept last year's series with Tennessee in Knoxville (16-5, 5-3, 5-2) and hold a 50-25 overall lead in a series that got its start in 1917.
Live audio for all three games and high definition video streaming for the Friday and Saturday games will be available online on a subscription basis, (www.HailState.com/hstvlive), with the radio broadcast of all three games carried on the statewide MSU Baseball Radio Network featuring Jim Ellis and Bart Gregory. Dave Neal and Kyle Peterson will handle the play-by-play and analyst duties for the ESPNU broadcast crew Thursday night.