Diamond Dogs to face the Wildcats today

LEXINGTON, Ky. - A series-opening pitching duel could be in the offing Friday when Mississippi State (10-6-1, 1-2 SEC) and Kentucky (10-10, 1-2 SEC) open their three-game weekend series at UK's recently renovated Cliff Hagan Stadium at Shively Field.

Bulldog sophomore southpaw Paul Maholm (3-1, 3.04) matches up with Wildcat junior righthander Joseph Blanton (3-1, 1.64) in the 2 p.m. (CT) series opener that also marks the first game at the rebuilt Kentucky ball park. Maholm registered his first career complete-game pitching performance in a 12-4 win against No. 4 South Carolina last Friday in Starkville. Blanton, the SEC Pitcher of the Week two weeks ago, recorded his second consecutive route-going performance last Friday in Kentucky's 3-1 win at Auburn.

Both Mississippi State and Kentucky had midweek non-conference games rained out. UK was scheduled to play its first game of the year at Cliff Hagan Stadium Tuesday but that matchup with Tennessee Tech was rained out. MSU's Wednesday night meeting with Mississippi Valley State was also washed out and has been rescheduled as part of an MSU-MVSU twinbill at 4 p.m. April 10 at Dudy Noble Field.

The series reunites two longtime SEC baseball coaches Ron Polk, in his 23rd season at MSU, 25th in the SEC and 29th overall, and Keith Madison, in his 24th season at Kentucky. Polk is nearing another coaching milestone, entering the weekend series with an 898-428-1 record. Madison, who launched his collegiate coaching career as a graduate assistant coach on Polk's Mississippi State staff in 1978, earlier this season notched his 700th career coaching win.

Saturday's game is set for a 1 p.m. (CT) start time while Sunday's series finale is set for 12:30 p.m. CT. The broadcast of all three weekend games will be carried on the 25-station Mississippi State Baseball Radio Network.

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