To say the 451st, 452nd and 453rd meetings between the two Magnolia State baseball programs this weekend are important is the biggest understatement of 2015. The Bulldogs (24-24, 8-16 SEC) and Rebels (25-24, 11-13 SEC) are desperate for wins and desperate for anything positive to carry with them into the final weekend of the season and eventually into the SEC Tournament (if State makes it).
Heading into this weekend, the Rebels sit 36th in the RPI rankings, but the Bulldogs are 93rd. In order for this weekend to really boost the Rebels into a comfortable spot in the NCAA Tournament, the Rebs really need to take two from, if not sweep, John Cohen's club. But, that is easier said than done when it's a rivalry series and the other team is just about as desperate as you.
With that being said, no one has recorded a sweep in this series since 2010 (Diamondbearz yay) and Cohen's club looks to keep it that way to keep their own postseason hopes off life support. When looking to breakdown the Dogs, the positives jump out at you immediately with pitching and fielding. The Clangas are second in the nation with 557 groundouts which has helped them turn 56 double plays (2nd in nation) and they are first in the NCAA since 2012 with 257 twin killings. Starters Lucas Laster, Preston Brown and Austin Sexton thrive on pitching to contact and letting Cohen's defense work.
Although their record has been a reflection of their uniforms this season, the Dogs can hit fairly well (.270 team average). The names to know when adidas' poster children are at the plate are Jacob "Hobnob" Robson, Jake "the Lizard" Vickerson and Wes "Let me see your ID" Rea. These three names very well could dictate how nice of a weekend the Bulldogs have in Oxford, Miss.
Robson leads the team with his .348 average and 20 SB as he is the catalyst for Cohen at the dish. He is an absolute pest at the plate as he works deep into counts and is an excellent baserunner. Vickerson slithers around at the plate as well hitting .317 and has driven in 16 runs. He has the speed to cause problems once on base and has some surprising power from the left side of the plate. Last but certainly not least, the Big Catfish has continued his tear of late as he has been raking .415 in his last 12 games with 13 RBI.
The most important thing to watch out for this weekend may not have anything to do with pitching or hitting, but wardrobe. We all know that the Maroon and White Nation take more pride in being aesthetically-pleasing to the eye and are very cryptic with their swag. From a uniform standpoint, Ole Miss just can't compete when it comes to who has the most jersey combinations. It's just a landslide victory for Mississippi State.
Along with that, they have a distinct advantage in the performance-enhancing drug aspect of baseball. With spokesperson Rafael "dance around questions in congress" Palmeiro spearheading your PED training program, the recruiting edge is hard to compete with. As you can tell with players like Rea (4 HR), Reid Humphreys (5 HR) and Reid Holland (25 RBI), the Dogs make sure to take their "vitamins" before each at bat. Now, I know that Sikes Orvis has 11 HR this season, but that's not exactly fair to these particular Diamond Dawgz because Sikes is a grown ass man and eats a 72 oz. steak and drinks white lightning before every at bat.
Ole Miss may not have cute uniforms with all gold errthang or a fancy pharmaceutical advantage, but the Rebs at least have solo cup races. Those are pretty neat.
How to watch
When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. CT
TV: SEC Network
MSU: LHP Lucas Laster (4-3, 3.25 ERA, 45 K, 14 BB)
Ole Miss: LHP Christian Trent (6-5, 3.75 ERA, 56 K, 19 BB)
When: Friday, 6 p.m. CT
TV: SEC Network
MSU: RHP Preston Brown (5-6, 3.88 ERA, 52 K, 24 BB)
Ole Miss: RHP Brady Bramlett (5-3, 3.26 ERA, 70 K, 20 BB)
When: Saturday, 4 p.m. CT
TV: SEC Network
MSU: RHP Austin Sexton (4-4, 4.09 ERA, 53 K, 19 BB)
Ole Miss: TBA