MSU Hosts 2007 Cadence Bank Classic

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Three college baseball teams that advanced to the 2006 NCAA Tournament converge on Dudy Noble Field this weekend when Mississippi State plays host to Michigan and Troy University in the seventh Cadence Bank Classic. Tickets for the event will be sold at the stadium ticket office each day.

The three-day tournament begins Friday when defending Big Ten Conference champion Michigan (3-1) squares off with Troy University (8-3), winners of the Sun Belt Conference title. Host MSU (4-0) tests the Troy Trojans at 3 p.m. in the second game of the Classic's opening-day doubleheader Friday.

It's the first visit to Dudy Noble Field for the Trojans from Troy, Ala., and the third trip to Starkville from Ann Arbor, Mich., for the Wolverines. Mississippi State and Michigan split a pair of regular season games in Starkville in 1924 and then met in the final two games of the 1985 NCAA South I Regional Tournament at Dudy Noble Field.

Sophomore right-hander Aaron Weatherford (1-0, 3.00) is slated to draw starting duties Friday afternoon against Troy, while the Trojans have designated senior righty Clegg Snipes (1-0, 1.62) for a Friday start against State.

The Bulldogs have enjoyed a great measure of offensive success in their first four games, registering double-figure totals in both hits and runs scored against Murray State and Mississippi Valley State while out-scoring those two teams 40-15. Junior catcher Edward Easley leads the way for the Bulldogs. The Johnny Bench Award candidate is hitting at a red-hit .750 clip with 12 hits in 16 at-bats and team-leading totals in both runs scored (9) and RBI (8). Rookie infielders Brandon Turner (.563) and Connor Powers (.500) have also gotten off to fast start in 2007. Powers has hit two of MSU's five home runs.

Senior designated hitter Brian LaNinfa (.471) is one of six Bulldogs to have hit safely in all four games. LaNinfa concluded the 2006 season with a 13-game hitting streak. With six hits in his first four games, MSU scond baseman and team co-captain Jeffrey Rea has raised his career hits total to 257. Rea needs seven hits to crack MSU's career top 10 listing and 71 hits to tie the school career hits record (328 hits) set in 1998 by Richard Lee.

The Bulldogs have also played solidly on defense, fielding at a .993 clip and commiting one error in 153 chances.

Michigan posted a 43-21 record in 2006, winning the Big Ten Tournament championship and advancing to postseason play in the NCAA Atlanta Regional hosted by Georgia Tech. Troy registered a 47-16 record, won the Sun Belt Conference championship and took runner-up honors behind host Alabama in the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional.

The Wolverines are on a season-opening seven-game spring road swing to Florida and Mississippi. Michigan swept Bethune-Cookman in a three-game series last weekend but dropped a 7-6 decision in 10 innings Tuesday night at Central Florida. Troy swept past Indiana, Georgia Southern and Southern Miss to win the Wiregrass Classic it hosted last weekend in Dothan, Ala.

State tests Michigan Saturday at 4 p.m. and closes out the weekend Sunday against Troy at 3:30 p.m. Sunday's game is the second half of a basketball/baseball doubleheader on the MSU campus. Mississippi State concludes its 2007 regular season basketball schedule Sunday at 1 p.m. in a regionally-televised game against divisional rival Alabama.

Gene's Page Top Stories