Sophomore southpaw Paul Maholm (5-1, 2,62), the SEC's leader with three complete games, is set to take the hill Friday and will be matched with Georgia freshman lefty Mickey Westphal (3-0, 6.35). Westphal leads UG in strikeouts (25) and innings pitched (28.1).
Senior outfielder Casey Long leads the Bulldogs at the plate with a .391 batting average and has hit safely in the last nine games. Bulldog shortstop Matthew Maniscalco (.319) enters the weekend riding a career-high and team season-best 13-game hitting streak. The Bulldog infield's other Matthew, sophomore first baseman Matthew Brinson, paces MSU with 14 extra-base hits (nine doubles and five home runs) and 30 RBI. He drove in eight of those runs during a 6-for-10, two-game set at LSU last weekend that helped him earn SEC Player of the Week honors.
The weekend series matches Mississippi State skipper Ron Polk and Bulldog assistant Daron Schoenrock against the team they coached to the 2001 SEC title and a berth in the NCAA College World Series.
Georgia, currently leading the SEC Eastern Division, is guided by first-year head coach David Perno, a member of Ron Polk's staff the past two seasons in Athens.
Mississippi State holds a 29-22 edge in a rivalry that dates back to 1915, including a 15-10 mark against UG in Starkville. At 51 games it is the least-contested of MSU's baseball rivalries with original SEC member schools. The only MSU-UG meetings the last two years came in the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala., where Georgia blanked State 5-0 in 2000 and State, en route to the SEC Tournament Championship, topped the UG Bulldogs 8-4.
The teams last met in Starkville in 1998, with MSU posting a second-straight home series sweep over Georgia. The 2000 SEC tourney loss to Georgia is the only MSU setback in the last 11 State-Georgia baseball battles.
The series continues Saturday at 3:07 p.m. and concludes with a 1:30 p.m. (CDT) game Sunday.