By Austin Bishop
The Winston County Journal
STARKVILLE — Beginning on Friday, Mississippi State University will be hosting an NCAA Regional Baseball Tournament for the 12th time in school history.
Joining top-seeded MSU in the four-team tourney set for Dudy Noble Field will be No. 2-seeded South Alabama, No. 3-seed Mercer and fourth-seeded Central Arkansas.
The action starts on Friday when South Alabama and Mercer tangle at 2 p.m., followed by the 7 p.m contest between MSU and Central Arkansas.
It will mark the fourth time the Bulldogs and Bears have met this year, with Central Arkansas leading the series 2-1. State defeated UCA 4-2 on March 8, but lost 7-5 and 5-3 the next two days. All three games were played at Dudy Noble. The losses ended MSU’s 17-game winning streak to open the season. State also played South Alabama once this year, beating the Jaguars 6-4 in Mobile on April 2.
The double-elimination event continues on Saturday with Friday’s losers playing at 2 p.m. and the winners at 7 p.m. The losers brackets finals are set for 2 p.m. Sunday, with the first championship game set for 7 p.m.
If a final game is needed it will be played at 2 p.m. on Monday.
All-tournament tickets are $90 for reserved seats and $50 for general admission. Single game prices are $15 for reserved (if available) and $10 for general admission.
Mississippi State was one of nine SEC teams to earn bids to the NCAA Tournament and one of four to be selected as hosts.
Vanderbilt was the No. 2 National seed, with LSU being the No. 4 national seed. Those two teams will be hosting regionals along with South Carolina and MSU.
Other SEC teams earning bids were Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Florida.
Mississippi State goes into the regional with a 43-17 mark, while Central Arkansas is 39-20, Mercer is 43-16 and South Alabama is 42-18.
Central Arkansas won the Southland Conference Tournament, while Mercer got an at-large bid out of the Atlantic Sun Conference and South Alabama of the Sun Belt Conference also received an at-large bid.
The winner of the Starkville regional will take on the winner of the Charlottesville Va. regional in a super regional.
Leading the way in the Charlottesville Regional is No. 6 national seed Virginia. The Cavaliers are joined by Army, Elon and UNC-Wilmington.
The No. 1 national seed went to North Carolina, followed by Vanderbilt, Oregon State, LSU, Cal State Fullerton, Virginia, Florida State and Oregon.