STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI/MSU Athletics) – Rising through the air on a beautiful February afternoon, the smell of the Left Field Lounge grills mixed with the sweet aroma of fresh cut grass at Dudy Noble Field will signify one thing: baseball is back.
Mississippi State head coach and 2013 ABCA South Region Coach of the Year John Cohen announced the Bulldogs’ 2014 56-game tilt Monday, including 35 games at the best ballpark in the country according to StadiumJourney.com. Included on the schedule for MSU are 22 total games against eight different opponents who participated in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
Opening Day at Dudy Noble Field for the reigning NCAA national finalists will take place at 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 14, as the Maroon and White battle Hofstra in the schools’ first meeting. The beginning of MSU’s 124th season of baseball is part of a 16-game home stand to open the season, featuring games against the Pride (Feb. 14-16), Memphis (Feb. 19), Holy Cross (Feb. 21-23), Mount St. Mary (Feb. 25-26), Michigan State and Eastern Illinois (Feb. 28-March 2) and South Alabama (March 5).
From there, the Diamond Dawgs head to the desert March 7-9 for a pair of colossal non-conference clashes against both Arizona and UC Santa Barbara. The meeting vs. the 2012 national champion Wildcats is the first time since a three-game sweep by MSU in 2006 the two teams have met, while also marking the first battle between the two clubs in Tucson since State won a 13-12 slugfest against the No. 9 Wildcats on March 13, 2005.
Cohen’s crew begins its 30-game Southeastern Conference slate the following weekend at Georgia on March 14-16 in a battle of the Bulldogs. The Maroon and White return to “The Dude” for a three-game set against Vanderbilt March 21-23, before taking on Southeast Missouri in a midweek game March 25. State closes out the month with a trio of games against Arkansas on March 28-30 at home.
In a high-profile matchup between two College World Series squads from this past summer, MSU travels to the Bayou for an SEC West showdown against LSU April 4-6. The Bulldogs then stop by Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss., the following Tuesday for an in-state encounter vs. Southern Miss. The Mississippi rivalries continue when MSU hosts Ole Miss on Super Bulldog Weekend April 11-13, as Bulldog fans attempt to break the NCAA on-campus attendance record.
After a game against Alcorn State at DNF April 15, State travels to Missouri for a three-game deal April 18-20 for the inaugural series between the two teams since the Tigers joined the SEC. The opener marks the first regular-season meeting between Coach Cohen and the place where he began his coaching career back in 1992.
The annual Governor’s Cup in Pearl takes place April 22 between Ole Miss and MSU. The Bulldogs then return home to face Texas A&M April 25-27 and Jacksonville State April 30. The three-game SEC set against the Aggies in Starkville will be the first series between the two in Mississippi’s College Town since the 1987 NCAA Mideast Regional.
As the calendar turns to May, Cohen’s squad wraps up its regular season with three-game matchups at Auburn May 2-4, at home vs. Tennessee May 9-11 for Senior Weekend and at Alabama May 15-17.
The 2014 rendition of the SEC Tournament takes place May 20-25 at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, while the 2014 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship bracket is announced May 26. The NCAA Regionals are scheduled for May 30-June 2, with the Super Regionals being played June 6-9. Should MSU make its 10th trip to Omaha, the College World Series will take place June 14-25 at TD Ameritrade Park.
Mississippi State returns 19 letter-winners from the 2013 edition that posted a 51-20 overall record, won a postseason tournament for the third-straight season and advanced to the CWS Championship Series for the first time in program history. Included among the returnees are five of the nine starting position players as well as All-American pitchers Ross Mitchell and Jonathan Holder.
2014 Schedule By The Numbers
35………………..Games at “The Carnegie Hall of College Baseball”
30………………..Games inside the best conference in collegiate baseball
22………………..Games vs. 2013 NCAA Tournament Teams (Eight different opponents)
21………………..Games on the road, including two at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss.
16………………..Games at home to open up the regular season
4………………….Teams MSU will play for the first time ever (Hofstra, Holy Cross, Mount St. Mary, Southern Illinois)