Mississippi State heads to Oxford riding the momentum of a huge comeback win.
No. 5 Mississippi State fell behind by seven runs before the Bulldogs could even record an out against Memphis on Wednesday night. But just as MSU has done so many times this season, the Diamond Dogs rallied from behind to pull out a 10-9 victory and keep their flawless midweek record intact at 14-0.
“We never really panicked,” said MSU first baseman Tanner Allen. “There was still a lot of game left and you’re going to have to beat us all nine (innings) to beat us. It showed up late in the game and we got some big hits and were able to take the lead.”
State is scheduled to start its three-game series at No. 11 Ole Miss at 6:30 p.m. Friday. The game will be available to stream online through Watch ESPN and the SEC Network Plus
But Mother Nature may have something to say about how much actual baseball gets played.
The forecast for Oxford Friday night calls for a 90 % chance of rain and 80 % on Saturday.
Much more than statewide bragging rights are at stake this weekend.
For starters, the two teams are tied with 15-9 SEC records, meaning the winner of this series will go into the last weekend of SEC play with a seeding advantage for the SEC Tournament.
But beyond that, this weekend represents the last guaranteed series of the season at Swayze Field, meaning it’ll be an emotional sendoff for Ole Miss’ seniors and for some of the upperclassmen who may be pondering a foray into this summer’s 2019 MLB Draft.
Ole Miss enters the weekend on the cusp of the top 16, meaning wins and losses in this series could be the difference between hosting a series in the first round of the NCAA Tournament or having to travel to someone else’s home park for the postseason.
Likewise, Mississippi State could seemingly lock up national seed status and home field advantage until the College World Series with a couple of SEC road victories against a top-ranked team.
“I think hopefully by now, especially with an older team, they know what makes them go,” Bianco said. “Some guys will play up that rivalry, and that’ll make them play better. Some guys really need to be present and know that it’s not about the team in the other dugout, it’s about how we can play. I think that’s really the message.”
Recent history hasn’t been kind to Ole Miss in the baseball editions of this cross-state rivalry. In the last four seasons, Mississippi State owns an 11-2 record against Ole Miss and has outscored the Rebels by 26 runs in those 13 games.