MSU to Face UAB

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Sporting its best season-opening record since 1979 and its highest national ranking since 1993, Mississippi State returns to action at home Tuesday night, playing host to the UAB Blazers (21-6) in a 6:30 p.m. game at Dudy Noble Field.

The Diamond Dogs (22-3-1, 8-1) are ranked fifth by Baseball America, NCBWA and Sports Weekly/ESPN and sixth by Collegiate Baseball, and enter the week buoyed by last weekend's three-game series sweep (2-0, 7-0, 8-4) at No. 29 Mississippi. The wins extended State's current winning streak to eight games and vaulted MSU to the top of the Southeastern Conference standings after three weekends of league play.

Tuesday night's game with UAB is the second of the year between the Bulldogs and the Blazers. State posted a 14-5 win over then-27th ranked UAB in MSU's first road game of the season March 4 in Birmingham. That win snapped a school and conference-record 13-0 season-opening win streak by UAB. Last weekend in Birmingham the Blazers swept a three-game Conference USA series with the University of Memphis.

Junior right-hander Jeff Lacher (3-0, 3.43) is set to make his fourth start of the season for State, while junior lefty Griffin Zarbrough (0-0, 9.00) will make his first career start for the Blazers.

Junior third baseman Steve Gendron, who saw his career-best hitting streak end at 16 games Friday in Oxford, enters the week with a team-best .376 batting average. Just behind him at .375 is senior shortstop Matthew Maniscalco, who has hits in 25 of 26 games this spring and is riding a 13-game hitting streak. Also on the hitting streak trail is freshman catcher Craig Tatum (.356), who has hit safely in 10 games.

Including Tuesday's game with UAB, the Bulldogs play nine of their next 10 games at home. State hosts SEC East foe Kentucky this weekend (Apr. 4-6) and Western Division rival Auburn the following weekend (Apr. 11-13).

The No. 5 national ranking is Mississippi State's highest since 1993.

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