On the heels of a dominant win in Memphis on Wednesday night, No. 3 Ole Miss baseball will travel to Starkville this weekend for a three-game series against Mississippi State. The Rebels enter this weekend’s series with a 26-4 overall record and wins against top-25 teams in Texas A&M, Southern Miss and Arkansas. With Ole Miss sitting at third in the nation, the expectations are high as the Rebels look to continue proving themselves to be one of the best teams in college baseball against the in-state rivals from Starkville.
After a playing to a tight 8-6 win over Memphis in early February at Swayze, Ole Miss controlled all nine innings at Memphis on Wednesday night and won decisively 12-0. The star of the game – again – was Thomas Dillard, who accounted for three runs, two hits and four RBIs. After allowing 11 runs in the first six innings, the Tigers were unable to answer as Houston Roth helped lead the Rebels to their third shutout of the year.
Mississippi State comes into the series with a 15-15 overall record, notching two wins and seven losses in conference. The Bulldogs enter the weekend with eight losses in their last 13 games, including series losses at home against Vanderbilt, at Missouri and at LSU. After beginning the season with the resignation of former head coach Andy Cannizaro, the players have struggled to find their form of seasons past and look to pick up a much-needed win this weekend if they hope to have a shot at participating in an NCAA regional.
On the flipside, Ole Miss travels to Starkville with wins in nine of its last 12 games. Currently atop the SEC West, the Rebels have proven themselves to be the premier team in the division and perhaps the nation. Facing the team who sits last in the division, the numbers lean the rivalry series in Ole Miss’ direction.
This season, the Rebels’ offense has been as potent as ever. Led by consistent hitters in Dillard and Ryan Olenek, Ole Miss has scored five or more runs in 14 of its last 15 games. After an off-weekend series against Arkansas, Dillard was able to break his slump Wednesday and light up the field all evening. As the season progresses, the sophomore continues to stack his stat line, leading the team in runs (31) and RBIs (31). Meanwhile, Olenek continues to show how dangerously consistent he is as he leads the Rebs in batting average (.364), hits (40) and doubles (12).
On the mound, the bullpen has been lights out, highlighted by impressive performances from closer Parker Caracci. After dominating Southern Miss and Arkansas, Caracci was named SEC Pitcher of the Week, second-team Midseason All-American by Perfect Game / Rawlings and D1Baseball.com’s Midseason All-America Team this week. After a full week off, Caracci will look to keep the hype train rolling this weekend.
Game 1 of the series begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday, with Games 2 and 3 being held Saturday and Sunday afternoon. All of the games will be broadcast on SEC Network.