“Okay, we won a game yesterday. If we win today, it’s called ‘two in a row’. And if we win again tomorrow, it’s called a ‘winning streak.’ It has happened before!”
- Lou Brown, Major League II
No. 6 Ole Miss (32-9, 10-8) looks to win its third game in a row on Tuesday as it takes on in-state rival Mississippi State (22-19, 8-10). The Bulldogs took two-of-three from the Rebels a few weeks ago in the weekend series at the “New Dude” so this game finds the good guys looking to even the season record.
As you well know, this game means absolutely nothing with regards to SEC standings. Ole Miss, win or lose, is still 10-8 in SEC play going into LSU. Ole Miss, win or lose, is still 1st in the SEC West going into Thursday’s matchup with the Bayou Bengals.
Think back to February. If you’re anything like Zach Berry, Nick Carr, and myself, you run through a mountain of scenarios to determine what it would take for Ole Miss to position itself as a regional host and/or national seed. You and your friends look at the schedule. You analyze it. You say things like “the Rebs should take 2/3 from LSU, but must take 2/3 from Tennessee, and for the love of God cannot get swept at Alabama…”
You picking up what I’m putting down? Good.
However, the first thing we discuss every preseason is non-conference record. In what seems like clockwork fashion, Nick will say “We need to win 20 or 21 non-conference games.” Depending on non-conference strength of schedule, this number of non-conference wins seems to be the baseline at Ole Miss to host regionals. Ole Miss (and every other team) plays 26 non-conference games each year.
Well, fast forward to today, and the Rebels are a scalding 22-1 in non-conference games, the one loss coming to Long Beach State way back on March 3, 2018. The Rebs are tied with Texas Tech as the only two teams in the top 10 of the RPI with 22 non-conference wins. We think 25-1 would be the best non-conference record in the history of the SEC. What say you?
As for Tuesday night, MSU is led by all-world center fielder Jake Mangum, the only player to attend Mississippi State for two decades. Mangum sports an impressive OPS over .850 and is hitting at a .339 clip. Look for Ole Miss to
pitch around actually not pitch around him at all and force other Bulldogs in the lineup to beat them.
State is suddenly red hot, having won series against two top 10 RPI opponents (Arkansas and Ole Miss) in two of the last three weekends. Ole Miss will need to continue its pace of hitting early and often to be successful on Tuesday.
Bold Prediction: Look for Thomas Dillard to hit one off the restaurant in right field for a three-run homer in leading the Rebels to, yet another, solid midweek win.
How to watch
First pitch: 6:00 p.m. CT
TV: SEC Network
Online streaming: SECN+
Game-time weather: 53°, mostly clear, 10% chance of rain
Ole Miss: LHP Jordan Fowler (4-0, 3.43 ERA)
State: RHP Denver McQuary (1-2, 4.88 ERA)
Shout out to our newest writer, Ben Woodhouse, for this week’s midweek preview for tonight’s Governor’s Cup matchup against the Bulldogs. You might know Ben from the podcast as he has been a regular co-host this season, bringing his former college baseball player experience and on-the-ground analysis since he goes to every home game to our show and now to the site.
Welcome him to the staff with the typical pledgeship questions in the comments below. But, play nice.