SEC Weekend #1

THE SERIES: Mississippi State (13-0) hosts Tennessee (14-3) on the opening weekend of Southeastern Conference play. Gametimes are 6:30 Friday, 2:00 Saturday, and 1:30 Sunday; though weather for the Saturday-Sunday dates is threatening. Updates will be posted on Dawgs' Bite message boards during the series when weather forces changes in scheduling.

*MSU and UT have played no common opponents to-date.

*The Bulldogs are one game shy of tying the program record for best start to a season. The 1985 team opened 14-0.

*Also, State has won the first 11 home games. The 2000 team won it's first 16 home dates.

VOLUNTEER QUICK FACTS:

Coach: Rod Delmonico (Liberty, 1980). 17th season @ UT, 647-350

His Career Record: same. SEC Championships: 1995, '95. NCAA Appearances: 8

His Record vs. MSU: 12-17

2005 Record: 46-21, 18-11 SEC (2nd East)

Post-Season: 2-2 SEC Tournament; 3-0 NCAA Regional; 2-0 Super Regional; 0-2 College World Series.

Position Starters Returning/Lost: 4/5

Pitchers Returning/Lost: 4/9

Ron Polk vs. Tennessee: 25-14

ANNOUNCED ROTATION: LH James Adkins (SO 4-1, 1.29), RH Josh Lindblom (FR, 4-0, 2.97), RH Deunte Heath (JR, 2-1, 5.29).

Top Relievers: RH Craig Cobb (JR, 3-0, 1.55, 1 sv, 13 apps); RH Ty Pryor (SO, 0-0, 2.38); RH Sean Watson (JR, 1-0, 3.60, 6 svs).

Leading Batters: OF Julio Borbon .464, 7 doubles, 7-9 steals; IF Kelly Edmundson .431, 2 HR, 5 doubles, 14 RBI; C J.P. Arencibia .328, 3 HR, 8 doubles, 14 RBI; IF Chris Kemp .283, 4 HR, 15 RBI; OF Jarred Frazier .281, 18 RBI, 3-4 steals; IF Michael Rivera .273, 1 HR, 12 RBI; IF Tony Delmonico .262, 9 RBI, 3-3 steals.

BY THE NUMBERS:

Team Batting Average: MSU .322, UT .317

Opponent Average: MSU .220, UT .203

Runs Per Game: MSU 7.8, UT 7.2

Opp. Runs Per Game: MSU 2.9, UT 3.8

Slugging Average: MSU .463, UT .461

On-Base Average: MSU .430, UT .423

Doubles: MSU 24, UT 35

Home Runs: MSU 10, UT 12

Staff ERA: MSU 2.23, UT 2.46

Opponent ERA: MSU 7.64, UT 6.49

Staff Strikeouts: MSU 105, UT 155

Staff Walks: MSU 28, UT 65

Fielding: MSU .970, UT .963

SERIES HISTORY: Mississippi State owns a 39-21 lead in a series dating back to 1917. But most of the games have been played since 1983, and under the SEC's inter-Divisional rotation this is not an annual series. State leads 21-9 in games played in Starkville, though the last time the Vols came to Dudy Noble Field they took two-of-three in 2004.

LAST YEAR: Tennessee took a weather-shortened series by winning a pair of seven-inning Sunday games at Knoxville, by identical 2-1 scores. The Bulldogs were able to return the favor in the SEC Tournament with a 3-2 victory that sent State to the championship round.

BULLDOG NOTES: Mississippi State has used essentially the same starting defensive lineup all pre-SEC season, with the exception of one game. When 3B Michael Rutledge had back spasms prior to the series with Arkansas State, C Edward Easley moved to third base and Joseph McCaskill opened behind the plate. Rutledge was able to enter the game later. The other six positions have not changed in 13 starts.

*The designated hitter job has alternated, though. Brian LaNinfa began the year as the lefthanded DH, a job Mitch Moreland has taken over the last couple of chances. McCaskill and Matt Richardson are the righthanded DHs.

*State has used the same 1-2-3-4 batting order through 13 games. The slot with the most changes is seventh, with six Dogs taking their swings there.

*Senior SS Thomas Berkery has the longest hitting streak on the squad, at nine games now, but Rutledge and Easley are close behind with seven-game streaks going into the weekend. Easley and Berkery also have the most multi-hit games on the young season at five apiece.

*Berkery's streak has kept him atop the team list in batting average, at .413. Easley is next at .391.

*The Bulldogs had hit six home runs in 11 games at Dudy Noble Field. Tuesday night, on the road for the first time, four Dogs slugged longballs at Alabama-Birmingham. That included the first career grand-slam for senior CF Joseph Hunter.

*RF Andy Rice is the only Dog with more than one homer so far, and he has a pair.

*Three Dogs have double-digit walks already: Rice at 13, and Berkery and 1B Brad Jones with 10 each.

*Mississippi State has stolen 18 bases, in 22 attempts, so far in the season. That is over half as many thefts as the 2005 team tallied in the whole season, 35 in 49 attempts. 2B Jeffrey Rea is 5-of-5 in stealings.

*Senior RHP Brett Cleveland has notched four of the team's seven saves. He had five saves in all 2005.

*Every Bulldog starting pitcher has put in at least five full innings.


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