No. 29 Diamond Dogs Tangle with South Alabama

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's Baseball Bulldogs (23-10) step back into their midweek traveling shoes this week, venturing to Mobile, Ala., and Jackson, Miss., to renew a baseball rivalry with the University of South Alabama (24-14) that dates back to 1976.

The Bulldogs and the Jaguars tangle Tuesday at 6:10 p.m. at Eddie Stanky Field in Mobile before carrying their baseball battle on to Jackson for a 6:30 p.m. matchup at Smith-Wills Stadium.

MSU has tabbed freshman righthander John Lolar (3-0, 0.56) of Germantown, Tenn., for his third start of the year in Tuesday's game in Mobile, while junior lefty Brooks Dunn (3-1, 5.08) of Birmingham, Ala., is slated to draw his sixth start of the campaign in Wednesday's Entergy College Baseball Series game in Jackson.

South Alabama will formally dedicate the 3,500-seat renovated stadium at Eddie Stanky Field in ceremonies prior to Tuesday's game. The facility is named after former Major League player and South Alabama head baseball coach Eddie Stanky. Stanky and MSU skipper Ron Polk inaugurated the MSU-South Alabama baseball series in 1976, and with the exception of 2003, the teams have met at least once each year since then. State holds a 33-22 all-time series edge over the Jaguars.

The Bulldogs will enter the week without the services of the team's top hitter, junior center fielder Joseph Hunter. The Germantown ,Tenn., product sustained a fractured thumb in State's 6-0 shutout win at Georgia Saturday, and is expected to be sidelined three to four weeks. Hunter leads the team in batting average (.373), on-base percentage (.416), stolen bases (5) and sacrifice flies (4) while playing error-free defense in center field.

True freshman Mitch Moreland, a multi-position standout from Amory, Miss., is expected to see his first collegiate action in the South Alabama series in Hunter's absence.

South Alabama enter the week having won eight of their last 10 games, including a three-game home series sweep over Sun Belt Conference foe Arkansas-Little Rock last weekend. Junior third baseman David Freese paces the Jags with 57 hits, 37 RBI and a .380 batting average. South Alabama has not announced a starting pitcher for Tuesday night's game.

The Bulldogs enter the week ranked 29th by Collegiate Baseball.

State begins the second half of the 2005 SEC campaign at Dudy Noble Field this weekend, hosting SEC East foe Kentucky in a three-game series. The Wildcats are coached by second-year skipper John Cohen, an All-SEC outfielder during his collegiate career at Mississippi State (1988-90).

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