STARKVILLE, Miss. — Buoyed by a second consecutive four-game home weekend tournament sweep, No. 23 Mississippi State (10-2) opens a two-game midweek series against Penn State Tuesday (6:30 p.m. CT) at Dudy Noble Field. MSU and PSU square off again Wednesday night. General admission tickets for the games will be sold for $5 at the stadium ticket office beginning at 4:30 p.m. both days.
It’s the first baseball meeting between the Bulldogs and the Nittany Lions of the Big Ten Conference and MSU’s first game since climbing into the national rankings. State is ranked 23rd in both the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll and the rankings compiled by Baseball America released Monday morning. Mississippi State is one of seven teams from the Southeastern Conference, headed by top-ranked Florida, included in the two polls’ rankings. State was ranked as high as No. 15 in the 2011 season-ending polls.
In four games, the Diamond Dogs hit .326 and pounded out 45 hits, including a season-high 19 in Sunday’s 16-6 tourney-finale win over Lipscomb. Sophomore third baseman Daryl Norris (.400) set the pace at the plate for State with an 8-for-16 (.500), 3-RBI weekend. Sophomore C.T. Bradford (.294) set career and team season-highs with a 4-for-6, 6-RBI outing Sunday, including a career-first home run.
Penn State (2-6) is on a seven-game, eight-day spring break trip that includes three-game sets at Samford (Mar. 3-5) and UAB (Mar. 9-11) sandwiched around their two-game midweek series at State.
Sophomore lefty C.T. Bradford, a 12-game starter in center field this season, has been designated for his seasonal pitching debut and his second career start in Tuesday’s series-opener against Penn State. Bradford, a 2011 Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American and SEC All-Freshman Team selection, earned a save and registered 10 strikeouts in 8.1 innings of rookie season mound duty.
Both of this week’s MSU-Penn State games will be broadcast on the statewide MSU Baseball Radio Network with live online video streaming available on a subscription basis at www.HailState.com/hstvlive.
In this week’s SEC statistical listings, Mississippi State leads the league with 14 double plays and is tied for second with 27 doubles.
Mississippi State closes out its season-opening homestand this weekend hosting Atlantic Sun Conference foe Mercer (10-3) in a three-game weekend series. MSU-Mercer series game times are set for 6:30 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.