In a highly anticipated SEC baseball series, it was the boys from Starkville who held their own against the visiting Ole Miss Rebels in two out of the three-game series. From the start of the series on Friday, you could sense in the air that Mississippi State wanted this series a lot more than Ole Miss did. With that being said, despite losing another series to Mississippi State, all was not lost for the Rebels this weekend.
On Friday, the Bulldogs opened the series with an impressive 5-2 win over the Rebels. Friday night had a similar feel to the series clincher on Sunday as the bats came alive late in the game to propel Mississippi State to victory.
On Saturday, the tables turned just a bit to the boys from Oxford, as Doug Nikhazy tossed a complete-game shutout of the Bulldogs to lead Ole Miss to a 9-0 win to tie the series at a game apiece.
From there, the anticipation levels of the Magnolia state rose to an all-time high as Ole Miss and Mississippi State got ready to play for the series on Sunday afternoon at Dudy Noble Stadium on the beautiful campus of Mississippi State.
Sunday’s matchup between Ole Miss and Mississippi State was one of the hardest tickets in College Baseball history. With tickets on the secondary markets going for hundreds of dollars per ticket, it was so secret that Sunday’s matchup would be a difficult one for both teams.
Ole Miss got out to an early 3-2 lead over the Bulldogs, but that would all come crashing down in the 6th inning as Mississippi State put together a five running inning to make it 7-4 heading into the closing innings. From there, Ole Miss would add one run in the 8th inning to cut the Bulldog lead to 7-5, but it was a little too late for Ole Miss, and the Bulldogs would escape with a massive win over their arch-rival.
So what does the series win over Ole Miss mean for Mississippi State heading into the rest of the season? Quite honestly, the Bulldogs are still in play to win the SEC West. Although Arkansas holds the tiebreaker over the Bulldogs, with the series win over Ole Miss, Mississippi State finds themselves just one game out of first place in the SEC West. All Mississippi State has to do is to keep winning and let the cards play out the way they’ll play. The series win over Ole Miss will likely be the turning point of the season for the Bulldogs and could be the weekend that starts the talks of a deep run to Omaha.
For Ole Miss, the Rebels must face a harsh reality now after losing their third SEC weekend series in a row. If the Rebels want to stay in contention to be a top-eight seed in the NCAA Tournament, and for a favorable SEC Tournament, Ole Miss has got to find a way to turn the page on the last three weeks and learn a little short term memory loss for the final month and half of the regular season. Unfortunately, Ole Miss still has weekend series with Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Georgia, and LSU, all of which have been hot as of late. The good news is, three out of the last five SEC series for Ole Miss are at Swayze Field in Oxford, where the Rebels are 18-5 this season.
As we saw this weekend on full display, College Baseball in the Magnolia State is in the best position it’s been in for years. This could finally be the year where the National Championship trophy makes its way to either Starkville or Oxford, with Starkville being the more likely destination out of the two. Mississippi State has the lineup from top to bottom to bring a Championship home to Starkville, Mississippi.