Ahh, Pearl, Miss. – home to the Jackson Braves, a Bass Pro Shops and a Sonic that has service so slow I nearly missed the first pitch last year because of it.
Ole Miss (23-14, 8-7 SEC) and Mississippi State (22-14, 6-9 SEC) will meet at Trustmark Park at 6:30. The game will be televised on CSS for those of you who enjoy watching games with some static and color that goes in and out from time to time.
The game represents our largest in-state rivalry (yep, even bigger than Jackson State), and also, the beginning of the most challenging part of the Rebel schedule.First, the pitching matchup:
Matt Tracy (3-2, 4.46 ERA) for Ole Miss
Kendall Graveman (3-0, 3.45 ERA) for Mississippi State
Tracy knows what this game means, so I can imagine he is amped up for this game. We'll see how he handles this early on if State gets a lead. Graveman's 3-0 record has come against the likes of Alabama A&M, Alcorn State and Eastern Illinois – take that for what it's worth. State's coach John Cohen has said the pitching will be via a bullpen committee in the game – most likely to keep the Rebel batters off balance.
I think the key to this game as it is with any Mike Bianco team is to get the early lead. We pitch better, hit better and just make fewer mistakes mentally when we jump out to that early lead. We play with swagger and win more games. The statistics lay that out as simple as this – Ole Miss is 18-2 when it scores first.
That means we're 5-12 when the opponent scores first. It's just that simple. Jump out to a lead, and let our superior pitching take care of the rest.