Let's Play Two!

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State heads into the home stretch of its 2003 baseball season this week, hosting Southeastern Louisiana and Winthrop University in a rare day/night doubleheader Tuesday to open a run of six games over a six-day span at Dudy Noble Field. Tuesday's doubleheader will count as one gate, and season ticket holders are reminded to use the May 13 Winthrop game ticket (Game 31) for admission to the twinbill.

The Diamond Dogs (34-15-1, 15-11 SEC) take on Southeastern Louisiana (18-31) Tuesday at 3 p.m. to open the six-game, regular-season ending homestand. The game was added to the MSU schedule to replace an April 6 rainout against SEC foe Kentucky. State then entertains Big South Conference-leading Winthrop (32-19) at 6:30 p.m. in the first game of a two-game set with the Eagles. The second game of the series is set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Winthrop is coached by former MSU assistant coach Joe Hudak, now in his 12th season at the Rock Hill, S.C. school.

MSU closes out regular-season play at home this weekend, playing host to Alabama (32-19, 13-14 SEC) in a three-game set at Dudy Noble Field. Friday's series-opener is set for 6:30 p.m., with Saturday's 2 p.m. game to include a salute to State's five senior players. Mississippi State has qualified for the SEC's postseason baseball tournament for the 17th straight season. Since the league first went to tournament play in 1977, MSU has played in 23 of the 26 SEC tournaments. Only Florida, with 24 previous appearances, has played in more.

Senior right-hander Jacob Blakeney (2-0, 6.61) of Magee, Miss., is scheduled to draw the start for the Bulldogs against Southeastern Louisiana. The Lions have designated junior righty Beau Fontenot (0-0, 7.82) for Tuesday afternoon's start. SEL has won three of its last four games, taking two of three games in last weekend's Southland Conference series at Nicholls State. Sophomore southpaw Todd Nicholas (4-3, 3.45) will take the hill for State in the nightcap.

SERIES RECORDS: MSU has won all eight previous baseball meetings with the Lions, including 5-2 and 9-2 wins to open the 2000 home schedule in their most recent meetings. The first four games in the series, which got its start in 1957, were contested in Hammond, La., while the last four meetings have been staged at Dudy Noble Field. Ron Polk is 3-0 lifetime against Southeastern Louisiana, now coached by former LSU assistant Dan Canevari.

The MSU-Winthrop rivalry is a brief one, with the teams splitting their two-game set at Dudy Noble Field in 1995 (10-6, 0-3).

LONG DAY/WEEKEND AT THE YARD - Last weekend's series finale at Georgia produced one of Mississippi State's longest baseball games. UG prevailed 9-8 in the 15-inning marathon that lasted four hours and 41 minutes. It's the longest Mississippi State game since MSU and Auburn battled it out for 15 innings in Starkville Mar. 22, 1987. That game, the longest played at Dudy Noble Field, lasted four hours and 21 minutes. Coupled with the two other MSU-UG games last weekend that lasted better than three hours each, the SEC's Baseball Bulldogs played for 11 hours and nine minutes.

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