It’s bad for a team to get swept by their in-state rival. It’s worse for that same team to lose to the same in-state rival four times in the same season. This is the scenario that the Ole Miss Rebels will try to avoid tonight as they travel to Pearl to take on Mississippi State for the 38th Governor’s Cup.
Tonight’s game won’t count toward either team’s conference record, but that won’t get in the way of this rivalry game.
The Rebels got swept by the Bulldogs at home earlier this season, but Ole Miss wasn’t without their chances in the series. In each game, Ole Miss found themselves with a chance to tie or take the lead late. Unable to come up with clutch at-bats, the Rebels fell, and the Bulldogs walked away from Swayze Field with a sweep and bragging rights.
The good news for the Rebels is their offense is clicking (for now). While it isn’t enough of a drastic change that’ll allow Rebel Nation to exhale, the Ole Miss lineup has shown vast improvement over the last week, beginning with the UAPB game.
Whenever a team scores 14 runs and gets 13 hits, it’s a step in the right direction no matter who the opponent is. In the Missouri series, Ole Miss struggled to get runs across in game one but managed 10 hits. A win in game two behind strong pitching performances followed by a nine-run showing in Sunday’s win is the kind of team effort the Rebels have been waiting for.
The Rebels also committed just three errors in the weekend series, an area in which they’ve struggled this season, committing the third most in the SEC (46).
The good news is that since getting swept by the Bulldogs, Ole Miss is 9-3. The bad news is that the Bulldogs have won five straight SEC series and rank 1st in the west and 10th in the country. Fueling the Bulldog lineup, which scored 23 runs over the weekend against Alabama, is Bret Rooker and his .400 batting average. This late in the season, it’s impressive to be hitting above .300, let alone what Rooker has been able to do when he steps in the batter’s box as he has totaled 16 home runs, and 23 extra base hits alongside his 58 RBIs have him on his way to becoming the top hitter in the conference.
Taking the mound for Ole Miss tonight will be Greer Holston (2-2, 3.20), who’s settled into the midweek starter role as the season has progressed. In his last outing against UAPB, Houston allowed four runs in five innings and will need a sharper performance against the talented Bulldog lineup.
Mississippi State’s starter has not yet been announced.
Where to Watch/Listen
First pitch from Trustmark Park, home of the Mississippi Braves, is set for 6:30 p.m. The game can be seen on the SEC Network and heard on the Ole Miss Radio Network and OleMissSports.com.
No clouds in sight, so play ball.
Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.HERE!