MSU-Arkansas Series Opener Washed Away

This time, Mississippi State didn't keep everyone waiting on the decision of play or nay. With a light rain continuing to fall on Dudy Noble Field, the Diamond Dogs and Arkansas agreed to give up on Friday and open their SEC West series with a Saturday doubleheader.

The Bulldogs and Razorbacks will meet at the regular scheduled time of 2:00 Saturday, but will play a pair of full nine-inning contests. Fans can attend both games on their regular Saturday ticket.

The decision to bang the Friday evening opener came at 6:40, ten minutes after the scheduled start time. The game had already been delayed to 7:00, with rain actually increasing the coaches, after talking with game management and groundskeepers, opted to make an early call. This was in contrast to State's last Friday home game, against Georgia two weeks ago, when the game was delayed almost an hour by weather that merely threatened. It didn't arrive until the game had ended.

Ironically, at Thursday's Dugout Club meeting to show off the new Palmeiro Center and Griffis Ballroom, MSU Coach Ron Polk--aware of the chance of Friday weather--told the crowd neither he nor the players wanted to play doubleheaders but he knew fans would want one. Now, they get it.

Mississippi State is expected to stick with the same starting lineup for game-one Saturday as was posted Friday, with LHP Brooks Dunn on the mound. With Arkansas also starting a southpaw, Nick Schmidt, Polk listed a balanced batting order of 2B Jeffrey Rea, 3B Edward Easley, SS Thomas Berkery, DH Brian LaNinfa, CF Joseph Hunter, C Joseph McCaskill, 1B Brad Jones, RF Matt Richardson, and LF Jeff Butts. That would be five righthanders and four lefties swinging.

The only possible change would be if regular third baseman Michael Rutledge was put back in the lineup. The righthanded hitter has an injured thumb and was not going to play Friday anyway, but Polk had said earlier Rutledge "might be ready" by Saturday. If he did, and Easley went back to his usual catching job, it would still leave a 5/4 split tilting right-handed.

Mississippi State is 7-7 SEC, a win behind 8-7 Arkansas with the Razorbacks currently standing second in the Western Division behind 10-5 Alabama. The Crimson Tide's series at Tuscaloosa with Vanderbilt was also delayed a day by Friday rainout, as was LSU's game at Mississippi. Auburn is the only West team in action Friday.

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