#19 Ole Miss baseball finds itself hosting it’s in-state rival in the first 3-game SEC series of what will be 7 games over the season. Yes, the Bulldogs of MSU are coming off a huge win over Memphis at AutoZone Park Tuesday night and are ready to make a statement. Good luck.
The Rebels (16-9, 3-3) come into the match-up with arguably one of the best pitching staffs in SEC. Mississippi State (16-10, 3-3), after losing 4 straight to Arkansas and USM, comes into the contest with 4 straight wins over UT and Memphis. However, Ole Miss baseball is 14-3 at Swayze Field while MSU is 2-5 on the road.
Although Andy Cannizaro may be in his first year as Bully skipper, please don’t allow yourself to think he doesn’t have a strong team. Offensively, the MSU baseball team and their 16-10 record has been built around the production of SEC leader Brent Rooker, and whoever they’ve been able to get on base in front of him. However, it’s not all Rooker by himself.
The Bulldogs have a great lead-off man in Jake Mangum who is very hard to hold down. Also, there are several other solid hitters who are beginning to heat up. Expect to see some hitting from this MSU team
Pitching vs Hitting
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This is the classic lopsided game for both teams. Ole Miss is the obvious pitching nightmare for MSU. Accordingly, MSU is the offensive nightmare for OM. The Bulldogs lead OM in every major offensive category. Of course, OM leads in almost every category on the rubber.
Right-handed sophomore James McArthur (1-1, 1.77) gets the start tonight on the mound in game 1, with lefty David Parkinson (4-1, 1.93) set to start for game 2 Friday. April Fools Day finds the freshman phenom Ryan Rolison (3-0,1.80) drawing his 3rd career start.
Defensively, the winning team cannot make errors in obvious small ball situations. Accordingly, now is the time to know what’s coming before it happens, and realize the play not made can lead to an ugly weekend. No wild pitches, no hit by pitches, no fielding or throwing errors, will equal wins. Of course, we can be sure Ole Miss skipper Mike Bianco has his Rebel team ready!
In The Box
Thanks to Justin Swain, at ForWhomTheBellTolls.com for a great job breaking down a number of stats. ‘Walks Allowed’ is one big MSU pitching stat which bodes well for Ole Miss hitters. As Justin points out, Miss State has given up113 walks which equals 4.7 per game. Of course, patience at the plate will be the key to working Bulldog pitchers into deep counts. The Bulldog pitching staff have had ups and downs on the mound, however they have pitched much better in their past 4 wins.
Colby Bortles has found his rhythm and is back in form, as well as Tate Blackman. Obviously, both must have big nights at the plate. However, lets not forget the impact our freshmen have made in the box. Accordingly, I really expect double-digit hits from the Rebels in tonight’s game. Of course, a big game 1 against our in-state and SEC rival could be enough to set the momentum for the following two games.
First pitch for game 1 is set for tonight at 7pm CT and will be televised nationally on ESPNU.
Game 2 starts at 6pm CT Friday night, while first pitch for Game 3 Saturday is set for 1:30pm CT. Of course, games 2 and 3 are scheduled to be televised on SECN/SECN+.
ARE YOU READY?