April 9, 2009
The Tennessee baseball team returns to Southeastern Conference play this week as it welcomes Mississippi State to Robert M. Lindsay Field at Lindsey Nelson Stadium for a three-game weekend series. Game times are set for 7 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. All three games will be televised regionally by SportSouth.
This weekend's games are slated for radio broadcast in the Knoxville area on WNML AM 990, FM 99.1 and 99.3.
Tennessee (13-20, 1-11 SEC) trails the all-time series with MSU 22-44, dating back to 1917. Mississippi State holds a 12-10 advantage in Knoxville and the Bulldogs have won seven of the last 10 meetings between the two teams. First baseman Cody Hawn continues to swing a hot bat for the Vols. After missing five games with an illness, the Knoxville native returned to the lineup this week and went 6-for-8 (.750) with a home run and two doubles. Hawn ranks fourth in the SEC in home runs (12), RBIs (43) and slugging percentage (.748).
Mississippi State (18-15, 4-8 SEC) won the 2008 series in Starkville, Miss., 2-1. The teams split the first two games as the Bulldogs won 4-3 on Friday and the Vols earned a 12-9 victory on Saturday. MSU won the rubber game of the series, 7-3.
The Bulldogs enter this weekend's action batting .300 as a team with 58 doubles and 30 home runs. Mississippi State's pitching staff has fashioned a 5.52 ERA and average 7.8 strikeouts per nine innings.
Junior infielders Russ Sneed (.371) and Jet Butler (.352) sport the top two batting averages heading into the weekend series, while junior first baseman Connor Powers (.316), who belted his team-leading ninth home run of the year Wednesday night, leads the Bulldogs with 36 RBI.
This weekend's pitching matchups begin with Friday's showdown between UT junior right-hander Aaron Tullo (1-4, 5.59 ERA) and State left-hander Tyler Whitney (2-2, 3.89 ERA). Tennessee left-hander Nick Hernandez (1-4, 5.64 ERA) will take the mound Saturday against Bulldogs left-hander Nick Routt (4-1, 2.83 ERA). Sunday's starting pitchers have yet to be announced.
This weekend's ballpark promotions are highlighted by Friday's Dollar Hot Dog night. Hot dogs will be available for only $1.
Saturday's game will honor the Knoxville Leukemia and Lymphoma Society with a "Light the Day" promotion.
Sunday is Fan Appreciation Day; all children age 17 and will receive free admission to the game and a voucher for a free hot dog and drink. Kids can also run the bases after the game as well as get autographs from Tennessee coaches and players.