MSU - Bama Face Off in SEC Tourney

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Mississippi State launches defense of its Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship Wednesday at 1 p.m. at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, taking on longtime SEC Western Division rival Alabama in the opening round of the 2002 SEC Baseball Tournament. The Bulldogs enter the double-elimination riding a five-game, their longest since winning seven straight during the first two weeks of the season.

Senior right-hander Tanner Brock (7-4, 4.38) will draw starting duty for the seventh-seeded Bulldogs (33-22-1, 14-15 SEC), who extended their run of consecutive berths in the league tournament to 16 with a three-game sweep of instate rival Mississippi last weekend at Dudy Noble Field. SEC Western Division champ Alabama (44-12, 20-10 SEC) is expected to start righty Jared Woodard (6-1, 3.90).

The winner advances to a 5 p.m. match Thursday against the winner of Wednesday's early game, Florida vs. Georgia. The losers of Wednesday's opening round games meet Thursday at 10 a.m. in an elimination game.

Alabama claimed all three games (9-5, 9-7, 11-4) in a regular-season series with Mississippi State in Tuscaloosa May 10-12. that UA sweep of MSU was its first since 1976 and extended State's losing skid in league competition to seven games.

A year ago the Bulldogs posted a 4-1 record at the Hoover Met en route to winning the 2001 SEC Baseball Tournament.

All of Mississippi State's SEC Tournament games can be heard on the statewide MSU Baseball Radio Network.

Other MSU Baseball News:

MSU racks up academic honors...

Mississippi State University has placed eight players on the 2002 Southeastern Conference Baseball Academic Honor Roll, released this week by the league office in Birmingham. An SEC-leading 158 Baseball Bulldogs have now received academic all-conference designation since the first SEC academic all-conference honors were begun. The 2002 academic honor roll, based on grades from the 2000-2001 academic year, includes four current MSU players - sophomore first baseman Matthew Brinson (3.00, General Business Administration) of Brandon, Miss., junior pitcher Joey Collums (3.84, English) of Germantown, Tenn., junior pitcher Steven Dowe (3.00, General Business Administration) of Tylertown, Miss., and junior outfielder Cager Garner (4.00, Business Information Systems) of Starkville, Miss. Collums is a three-time honoree while Brinson, Dowe and Garner are two-time selections. Also on this year's honor roll are members of the 2001 MSU baseball team, J.T. Hardcastle of Ocean Springs, Miss., Brad Hutto of Madison, Miss., Phillip Willingham of Mobile, Ala., and Josh Wooten of Star, Miss. Hardcastle, Hutto and Wooten were included on the 2001 SEC Baseball Academic Honor Roll.

Paul Maholm named second-team All-SEC...

Sophomore left-hander Paul Maholm of Holly Springs, Miss., is one of 25 players accorded All-Southeastern Conference baseball honors for the 2002 campaign. Maholm, MSU's lead pitcher in its weekend rotation, was named to the All-SEC second team as selected in a vote of the league's 12 head baseball coaches. The Bulldog southpaw registered five complete-game pitching performances during the 10-week SEC season. Four of his seven SEC wins came in those route-going efforts and three against teams that have held top 10 status during the season. He enters this week's SEC Baseball Tournament with a 9-3 record, leading the club in both innings pitched (93.1) and strikeouts (71).

Football signee (and baseball player) Justin Tyler helps his team win in state playoffs...

MSU football signee, Jones County (GA) High School quarterback Justin Tyler helped his team, now 27-5, to a sweep of Oconee County High School this past Monday to advance to the Class AAAA semifinals. On the season, pitching and playing centerfield this season, Justin has a 10-2 record and has hit 9 home runs. Justin plans on participating in baseball as well as football while attending MSU. Justin was recently selected as the All-Middle Georgia Player of the Year.

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