Senior right-hander Tanner Brock, who posted a 7-2 record and a 4.44 ERA en route to first-team All-SEC honors last season, will open on the mound for the Bulldogs. The Blazers (2-3) will counter with righty Andre Parks (1-0, 0.00), a senior who earned a win in a start against Mississippi State last year.
The Bulldogs, ranked as high as 12th (NCBWA writer's poll) in this week's college baseball polls, hit the field with 23 returning lettermen from last year's 39-24 edition that won the 2001 SEC Tournament and earned a second consecutive advancement to the NCAA Super Regionals. MSU returns its 2001 infield intact. Sophomores Matthew Brinson (1B) and Steve Gendron (3B), seniors Jason Burkley (C), Chad Henry (2B) and Michael Brown (2B), and junior Matthew Maniscalco (SS) will be available for opening day starting duty.
Polk enjoyed a highly-successful 22-year term as head coach at Mississippi State (1976-1997), winning 888 games, the most victories by any coach in the history of the tradition-rich Southeastern Conference. He retired from coaching in 1997 after guiding the Bulldogs to a berth in the College World Series, returned to coaching at the University of Georgia in 2000, directing UG's successful run to the SEC regular season title and the 2001 College World Series. Polk returned to Mississippi State in June when Pat McMahon resigned to become head coach at Florida.
In 28 seasons - four at Georgia Southern, 22 at Mississippi State and two at Georgia - Polk has compiled a 1,122-534 record, 11th-most wins among active Division I college coaches and 18th-most all-time. Eighteen of his 28 teams have advanced to NCAA postseason play, 15 of those while coaching at Mississippi State. And with Georgia's advancement to Omaha for the CWS in 2001, he became just the second coach in NCAA history to guide three schools to College World Series appearances.
Polk's return to Mississippi State coupled with forecasts for sunny weekend weather are expected to attract large crowds to Dudy Noble Field, which has drawn 13 crowds of at least 10,000 since 1987.
NBC Classic Schedule
Friday, February 22
11 a.m. - Ohio State vs. UAB
3 p.m. - Mississippi State vs. UAB
Saturday, February 23
11 a.m. - Mississippi State vs. Ohio State
4 p.m. - UAB vs. Ohio State
Sunday, February 24
Noon - Mississippi State vs. Ohio State