Diamond Dogs Headed to Atlanta Regional

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State received an at-large bid to the 2004 NCAA Baseball Tournament Monday, and will begin play Friday in the Atlanta regional hosted by Georgia Tech. MSU is seeded third in the tournament and will meet second-seeded Texas Tech of the Big 12 Conference Friday at 3 p.m. (ET). Host Georgia Tech, the regular-season champion of the Atlantic Coast Conference, will take on Jacksonville State, the winner of the Ohio Valley Conference tournament in the 7 p.m. (ET) game.

The Bulldogs (34-22) won six of their last seven games, taking two of three from SEC co-champion Arkansas in their final home series and registering a league-first three-game series sweep of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. State just missed notching its 18th consecutive SEC Tournament berth, posting a 13-17 league mark, a game out of eighth place in the overall league standings.

MSU is advancing to NCAA baseball regional tournament play for the eighth time in the last nine years and the 21st time since 1978. With this year's selection and including district playoffs, Mississippi State has advanced to NCAA postseason baseball competition 27 times dating back to 1949.

The Bulldogs hosted their 11th NCAA regional tournament last year, advancing to the championship game before dropping an 8-6 11-inning decision to North Carolina at Dudy Noble Field.

"We're excited that our young ball club will have an opportunity to play in the 2004 NCAA Regional Tournament," said Polk. "We finished the season strong, winning six of our last seven games. And with our strong RPI and the strength of the Southeastern Conference, I felt we had a chance to get into the tournament."

The Bulldogs are going on the road for regional postseason play for the 10th time. State has competed in previous regionals in Arlington, Texas (1978), Clemson, S.C. (1981), Austin, Texas (1983) , Orono, Maine (1991), Tallahassee, Fla. (1993), Stanford, Calif. (1996), College Station, Texas (1998), and Columbus, Ohio (1999 and 2001).

Regional tournament winners are paired in a best-of-three NCAA Super Regional series June 11-13, with the super regional winners advancing to the NCAA College World Series June 18-28 in Omaha, Neb.

Mississippi State made back-to-back appearances in the College World Series in 1997 and 1998.

The 2004 NCAA tournament appearance is the 20th in 31 seasons as a collegiate head coach for MSU skipper Ron Polk. Polk has now guided MSU to 17 regional tournament berths since 1978.

The winner of the Atlanta Regional will meet the winner of the Athens (Ga.) Regional for a berth in the NCAA College World Series.

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