Junior lefty Paul Maholm (0-1, 1.29) is set to take the hill Mississippi State, while East Tennessee will counter with sophomore lefty Josh Kite (1-0, 1.29).
Bulldogs and the Buccaneers have met three times previously, with the Diamond Dogs having claimed all three meetings. MSU notched a pair of closely-contested one-run games (7-6 & 6-5) in the 1981 NCAA Atlantic Regional at Clemson, S.C., and a 6-1 decision over the Bucs in an early-season meeting at Dudy Noble Field in 1983. MSU built up a 6-0 lead over ETSU in their second meeting at Clemson in 1981 and held off a late Buc rally to claim the win and MSU's third berth in the NCAA College World Series, its second under Ron Polk.
After dropping a 4-1 decision in last weekend's rain-delayed NBC Classic season-opener with Birmingham-Southern, the Diamond Dogs warmed up at the plate in a Sunday doubleheader sweep of Connecticut. The Bulldogs topped the Huskies 4-3 and 11-2, plating 15 runs on 23 hits.
While the MSU hitting leaders for the weekend were familiar names (third baseman Steve Gendron [.455] and shortstop Matthew Maniscalco [.333] hit safely in all three games), a number of newcomers turned in impressive performances.
State started a pair of true freshmen in the outfield in all three games on opening weekend -- Brad Corley (Louisville, Ky.) in right field and Joseph Hunter (Germantown, Tenn.) in center field. Redshirt freshman Craig Tatum (Hattiesburg, Miss.) drew a pair of starts behind the dish, while junior college transfer Tyler Scarbrough (Meridian, Miss.) and redshirt freshman Thomas Berkery (Sarasota, Fla.) drew starts at second base.
Scarbrough (.375) claimed the early team lead in both RBI and home runs, belting a pair of roundtrippers and driving in four runs in two games. Hunter belted a double and legged out a triple and in a one-run game in the ninth inning against UConn threw out a runner at the plate.
Sophomore righty Alan Johnson (Pleasant Grove, Ala.), MSU's scheduled Saturday starter against ETSU, was impressive during his first career appearance as a Bulldog, scattering six hits and striking out four while picking up the win in a seven-inning start. All totaled, 13 first-time players took the field for Mississippi State during the NBC Classic.
MSU BB SCHEDULE NOTE: The March 8 (Saturday) Mississippi State-Lipscomb game has been moved to a Noon start time. The final non-conference weekend series for the Bulldogs begins with a 4 p.m. game Mar. 7 and concludes with a 1:30 p.m. contest Mar. 9. The Sunday series finale against LU has been designated as Scouts Day at Dudy Noble Field, with members of area scout troops admitted to the game free of charge as guests of the Baseball Bulldogs.
MSU-ETSU SERIES SCHEDULE
Friday, Feb. 28 -- 4:00 p.m. (WFCA-FM - 107.9)
Saturday, March 1 -- 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 2 -- 1:30 p.m. (WLSM-FM - 107.1)