LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The Mississippi State men's tennis team dropped its fourth 4-3 decision this season on Saturday, falling to UNLV at the Fertitta Tennis Center. State had a 3-1 lead but could not hold on the Rebels rallied to take the win and improve to 5-9 on the season.
For only the third time this season, State won the opening doubles point to take the early advantage. First off the court were Bulldogs Ivan Bjelica and Philippe Frayssinoux who won 8-3 over UNLV's Brett Hunter and Elliot Wronski on court #1. On court #2, Rebels Wesley Burrows and Jonathan Hooper topped State's Artem Kuznetsov and Pjotrs Necajevs 8-5 to send the decision to court #3. On that court, MSU's Ryan Farlow and Edouard Benchetrit outlasted UNLV's pair of Slavko Bijelica and David Campbell 8-5 which clinched the point for the Bulldogs.
When singles began, it was clear that it would be a battle to the end. State took a 2-0 lead when Bulldog Frayssinoux won 6-2, 6-1 over UNLV's Hooper on court #2. UNLV then closed the gap to 2-1 when Burrows defeated MSU's Benchetrit 6-4, 6-2 on court #4. State responded as 42nd-ranked Ivan Bjelica closed out Wronski 6-0, 6-3 on court #1 to give the Bulldogs a 3-1 advantage. UNLV would then take the momentum back and close the gap to 3-2 when Campbell downed MSU's Necajevs 6-2, 6-4 on court #3. Despite winning the first set 6-1, MSU's Farlow fell 6-1, 6-2 in the final two sets to Bijelica of UNLV which evened the match at 3-3. The attention would then shift to court #6 between MSU's Lim and UNLV's Luca Barlocchi to decide the outcome. The match, which was not completed until well after an hour of the others were completed, came down to a third set. In the first set, Lim fell 6-4 but responded in the second, winning 6-1. In the decisive third set, Barlocchi outlasted Lim, winning 6-3 and clinched the win for UNLV.
With the loss, State fell to 3-9 on the season. The Bulldogs have now lost seven straight dating back to Feb. 25. With the win on Saturday, Bjelica moved to 20-10 on the season.
State's next action will come this weekend when they return to SEC play, hosting Kentucky on Friday and Vanderbilt on Sunday.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Mississippi State (17-12, 2-4) kept the games close, but could not get over the hump, as they dropped both ends of a doubleheader to top-ranked Tennessee. MSU lost 3-0 in the first game, and then fell 2-1 in eight innings.
In the first game, Mississippi State went down in order in the top of the first. Tennessee immediately went to work in the bottom half. With one out, India Chiles worked a 3-2 walk, followed by a single through the left side by Tiffany Huff. Tonya Callahan then drove in the game's first run, singling up the middle. However, Erinn Webb hit into a fielder's choice, and Anita Manuma grounded out, allowing Stephanie Comeaux to get out of the inning with just one run.
In the second inning, Liane Horiuchi hit a one-out double to center field. But, Kenora Posey sacrificed her to third, and Lindsay Schutzler grounded to first, stranding Horiuchi at third.
The Lady Vols struck again in the third inning, aided by an MSU error. With two outs, Callahan doubled to right center. Erinn Webb then hit a ground ball to second baseman Chelsea Bramlett, who let it get past her, allowing Callahan to score.
MSU got its first runner when Hayle Guess drew a two-out walk in the fourth inning, and then stole second. But, Courtney Bures struck out to end the inning.
Tennessee added another run in the sixth inning.
Nakita Boyce broke up Abbott's no-hit bit in the seventh with a leadoff single. The hit extended her hitting streak to 16 games. Guess followed with a single to center field. Courtney Bures then popped up to Abbott for the first out, and Katie Cooley popped to second.
Monica Abbott retired the first 11 batters she faced, and struck out 12 on her way to her 20th victory. Stephanie Comeaux went three innings to fall to 4-2 on the season.
In the second game, Shannon Doepking hit a double of the left field wall in the eighth inning, scoring Lillian Hammond and giving UT the 2-1 lead.
Tonya Callahan led off the inning with a double. Danielle Pieroni fouled out, leading to Doepking's game-winning hit.
In the first inning, India Chiles singled with one out, and stole second. After Tiffany Huff grounded out, Tonya Callahan walked, putting runners at the corners with two outs. But, Alexia Clay struck out, ending the inning.
Tennessee got on the board in the second inning. Shannon Doepking hit a leadoff single, and was pinch-run for by Caitlin Ryan. One out later, Liane Horiuchi reached when Chelsea Bramlett committed her second error of the day. After Kenora Posey struck out, Lindsay Schutzler singled up the middle, scoring Ryan and giving the Lady Vols a 1-0 lead.
In the fourth inning, Nakita Boyce walked, and Hayle Guess reached on a fielder's choice. Courtney Bures was then hit by the pitch, putting runners at first and second with one out. Jessie Bailey then stroked a single to left field, plating Guess and tying the game. But, Sammie Jo Bailey lined to Megan Rhodes, who doubled up Jessie Bailey at first to get out of the inning.
Bures led off the seventh with a long single off the right center field wall. Jessie Bailey then lined a hard shot at first baseman Tonya Callahan, who threw to Horiouchi, who got the ball back to Callahan to complete the double play.
The Bulldogs will return to action on Tuesday for a midweek contest at UAB. Game time is set for 6 p.m. (CT) MSU will resume conference play Auburn on March 24.
Track & Field
ATHENS, Ga. - Mississippi State garnered three regional qualifying marks and won seven events on Saturday at the Georgia Relays at Spec Towns Track on the University of Georgia campus. With the wins on Saturday, MSU closes out the UGA-hosted event winning nine events over the two-day span.
Seniors Travis McKay and Nicola WIlson earned qualifying marks in the men's 3000-meter steeplechase and the women's shot put. McKay qualified with a personal-best eight minutes, 54.95 seconds to claim the top spot in his event. Wilson posted a throw of 49 feet, two inches to nab a qualifying mark and win in the shot put. State's 4x400 men's relay team, who already qualified at the season-opening FSU Snowbird, registered another qualifying mark on Saturday. The squad of Arthur Davis, Bruce Davis, Nathan Daniels and Ezra Jones improved their mark with a time of 3:08.68.
MState notched wins on the women's side in the distance medley relay, 4x800-meter relay and the high jump competitions. In the distance medley relay, MSU's Annie Falor, Antrese Banks, Jen McPherson and Michelle Corrigan registered a time of 11:59.81. The time turned in the foursome ranks fourth-best in MSU laurels. The team of Brittany Detzel, Liz Grube, Mina Thorstenson and Dot Youmans claimed the women's 4x800 relay event with a time of 9:22.96. In the high jump, Youmans matched a personal-best mark with a jump of 5-07.
Along with winning the men's 4x400-meter relay, the Bulldogs won the 4x800-meter relay, breaking a school record in the event. The squad consisting of Chris Woods, Golden Coachman, Jonathan Rono and Daniels recorded a mark of 7:31.94. The previous school record of 7: 40.28 was set in 2005.
"It was a good day for us, I think we dominated the meet," said MSU head coach Al Schmidt. "Anytime you can get regional qualifying marks it makes for a great day."
In other events, MSU senior Wade Martin finished second in the men's 1500-meter run with a time of 3: 55.78. In the women's discus, senior Christina Hernandez placed second with a throw of 149-08.
Up next for State will be a trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala. on March 22 for the Alabama Relays.
BATON ROUGE, La. - Lady Bulldog senior Amanda Mathis shot a 3-under 69 on Saturday to lead State in a team round of 304 in the second round of the LSU/Cleveland Golf Classic on Saturday. Mathis stands in second place while the Lady Bulldogs are in 16th as a team after their best round of the spring and the second best this season.
The round of 69 by Mathis tied the third best of her career. Her career best came two years ago at the LSU/Cleveland Golf Classic. As a team, the Lady Bulldogs fired their best round since they shot a 302 in the first tournament this year at the Cougar Classic back in September.
Freshman Gina Sharp fired a 78 on Saturday and stands in a tie for 73rd with MSU's Leigh Philipps who had a round of 80 on Saturday. Junior Julia Huh shot a 79 in the second round while Suzanne Stanley shot a 78 as the pair is one stroke back at 17-over.
Top-ranked Duke overtook the team lead on Saturday, shooting an even-par 288 and leads the field by three strokes. On top of the individual leaderboard is Duke's Amanda Blumenherst. Blumenherst shot a 3-under and leads Mathis by four strokes heading into Sunday's action.
The final round on Sunday will begin at 8 a.m. CT with a shotgun start.