MSU to Host Louisiana Tech

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State puts the finishing touches on its 2004 non-conference schedule Wednesday night when the Bulldogs (28-21) entertain Louisiana Tech (15-34) at Dudy Noble Field. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.

The midweek contest begins a home season-ending four-game run this week for the Diamond Dogs. MSU closes out its home slate with a three-game weekend series against SEC-leading and 11th-ranked Arkansas (33-16).

MSU freshman Josh Johnson (5-1, 3.72) of Caledonia, Miss., has been tabbed for starting pitching duty in tonight's non-conference season finale for State. It's the eighth start and the 12th overall appearance for Johnson, who leads the MSU pitching staff with five wins.

Johnson turned in one of his more impressive performances of the year in his last outing. The rookie right-hander scattered five hits, walked one, struck out five and allowed two runs in a season-longest 7.0-inning stint. He has earned wins in his last three starts.

Tech, scheduled to host instate rival Louisiana-Monroe Tuesday night, is expected to start either junior righty Mitch Tucker (3-5, 8.76), a nine-game starter, or freshman right-hander Blake Burns (3-2, 5.77).

Mississippi State holds a 33-13-1 lead in the series, including a 7-0 shutout win over Tech in a March 16 meeting in Jackson, Miss., State's first game away from Dudy noble Field this season. MSU junior lefty Eric Ebers and Brett Cleveland combined for a two-hitter in the game, the third shutout of the campaign by Bulldog pitching. Seven of MSU's nine starters in the batting order had multiple hits as MSU totaled 17 hits in the game, 15 of them singles.

Sophomore right fielder Brad Corley (.361) enters the week tied with South Carolina's Brendan Winn for the SEC lead in home runs. The Louisville, Ky., product also leads the team in batting average (.361), hits (74) and slugging percentage (.659) and ranks second on the club in runs batted in (46). Catcher Craig Tatum (.321) hit his 10th home run of the season in last weekend's Georgia series and leads the team with 49 RBI.

Mississippi State enters the week with a No. 31 RPI ranking according to and eager to end a pesky six-game losing skid, MSU's longest since 1995.

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