STARKVILLE, Miss. - Anticipation continues to build for Mississippi State's 14th annual "First Pitch/Meet the Team" baseball celebration to be held Saturday at the Griffis Boardroom and Palmeiro Center on the MSU campus.
Texas Rangers first baseman and former Mississippi State standout Mitch Moreland is the featured speaker at this year's event, set for a 4 p.m. start. Tickets are priced at $15 for adults and $10 for youth 18 years of age and younger. Those tickets are now on sale through the MSU Athletics Ticket Office (662-325-2600) in the Bryan Athletics Administration Building and through the ticket office's on-line operations (www.MStateAthletics.com/tickets). Tickets will also be available Saturday afternoon at the Griffis Boardroom.
In addition to an informal family-style barbecue meal and an appearance by Moreland, this year's baseball celebration will include an introduction of the 2011 Mississippi State baseball team and staff by third-year head coach John Cohen, the presentation of the team's third annual DOGSBY Awards, and events associated with the team's ongoing "Do It For Duffy" fund-raising campaign in support of injured former Mississippi State baseball player Ryan Duffy.
A wide array of services and items, including numerous sports collectibles, will be up for bid during an auction and a silent auction held during this year's baseball celebration. Proceeds from the auction and a "Do It For Duffy" 5K Run/Walk will go to assist with expenses associated with Duffy's rehabilitation and recovery. A senior on the MSU's 2010 baseball team and a teammate of Moreland on State's 2007 College World Series team, Duffy sustained a broken neck during a swimming accident last August in Florida. He is undergoing rehabilitation at his home in Malabar, Fla. Additional information on Saturday's 5K "Do It For Duffy" Run, set for an 8 a.m. start, is available online at DoItForDuffy.org.
A native of Amory, Miss., Moreland starred as a first baseman and pitcher for the Bulldogs from 2005 to 2007. He helped spark Mississippi State to a 5-0 run through NCAA regional and super regional play in 2007. In his final appearance at Dudy Noble Field, Moreland picked up a save in the super regional championship game against Clemson in the 2007 Starkville Super Regional, vaulting State on to its eighth advancement to Omaha, Neb., and the 2007 NCAA College World Series.
Moreland was drafted in the 17th round by the Texas Rangers in 2007 and signed with Texas following his junior season at State. He worked his way up through the Rangers' minor league ranks and last summer received the call-up that made him the 44th Mississippi State player to reach the highest level of professional baseball. Moreland hit .255 in 47 games last season, including a .348 mark in Texas' postseason run to its first World Series berth. He hit .462 in the 2010 World Series, belting the Rangers' first home run in World Series competition, a game-winning three-run blast against San Francisco.
Moreland joins an impressive array of guest speakers for past "First Pitch" events at Mississippi State. That group includes former MSU baseball standouts Jeff Brantley, Will Clark, head coach John Cohen, Dave "Boo" Ferriss, Dave Klipstein, Alex Grammas, Burke Masters, Joel Matthews, Jonathan Papelbon, Jay Powell, Jim Robinson, Nat Showalter, Bobby Thigpen and Dan Van Cleve, best-selling author and MSU alumnus John Grisham and Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda, longtime manager Los Angeles Dodgers.
Mississippi State opens its 121st season of baseball and the third year of the John Cohen coaching era at MSU Feb. 18 when the Bulldog play host to the Akron Zips. The game is part of a six-game, three-day double-round robin baseball weekend at Dudy Noble Field featuring host MSU, Akron and Lamar University. Mississippi State plays four games on opening weekend and 14 consecutive home games to launch its 35-game home schedule.
The 2011 Bulldog baseball roster features 18 newcomers and 15 returning lettermen, including five starting position players and nine pitchers from last year's club.
ATLANTA, Ga. - Dropping its second match of the dual match season, the 34th-ranked Mississippi State men's tennis team fell to 1-2 on the year with a 4-0 setback in Atlanta, Ga., to the No. 23 ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
MSU, who was competing with its highest ranking since Feb. 28, 2006, fell behind early, 1-0, dropping all three doubles matches. First MSU dropped an 8-5 decision on court three with Louis Cant and Malte Stropp having their three-match win streak snapped by the Yellow Jackets' Guillermo Gomez and Dean O'Brien. Georgia Tech clinched the doubles point at the No. 2 position with an 8-5 victory by Eliot Potvin and Ryan Smith over State's Artem Ilyushin and Zach White. The sweep in doubles was completed at the No. 1 slot with the Bulldog tandem of James Chaudry and George Coupland dropping a close match to the eighth-ranked Yellow Jacket duo Kevin King and Juan Spir, 9-8(5).
Trailing 1-0, MSU entered singles play with positions one thru three hitting the courts first. State's Stropp, who is the SEC's reigning Freshman of the Week, had his four-match win streak snapped with a straight-set loss to Potvin, 7-5, 6-2. At the No. 1 spot, Bulldog junior Coupland dropped a straight-set decision to No. 12 nationally ranked Gomez of Georgia Tech, 6-4, 7-5, to give the Yellow Jackets a 3-0 lead.
The match was clinched at court two, where MSU's Ilyushin dropped his second-straight match with a loss to 48th-ranked Spir in a three-set battle, 3-6, 7-6(8), 6-3.
Play was suspended on courts four and five with MSU's 60th-ranked Cant trailing a set to Georgia Tech's King, 6-2, 3-3, susp., at the No. 4 slot and Bulldog sophomore Chaudry trailing a game in the first set to Magin Ortega, 5-6, susp., at the No. 5 position. Action on court six between State's freshman White and O'Brien of the Yellow Jackets was never begun.
MSU will look to rebound this Thursday in the 14th annual River Hills Cup in Jackson, Miss., against the No. 17 ranked Ole Miss Rebels.