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Ole Miss and LSU Face Off in a Top 20 Battle on the Diamond

By Adam Brown
Sports Editor

Grae Kessinger making a tag at second base.
Photo by Josh McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics

The No. 13 Ole Miss baseball team hits the road this weekend as they travel down to Baton Rouge to take on the No. 9 LSU Tigers in an SEC Series tilt. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m. on the SEC Network +.

Ole Miss (30-16, 13-8 SEC) looks to bounce back from their midweek loss 5-3 to Southern Mississippi on Wednesday night. Last weekend, the Rebels swept Texas A&M at home.

Coach Mike Bianco moved into sole possession of third place on the all-time SEC coaching wins chart, passing South Carolina’s Ray Tanner.

The Rebels have scored 342 runs this season, good for 4th in the SEC and 20th in the country. They’re also averaging 7.4 runs per game, the fourth-most in the conference and 22nd in the country.

LSU (29-16, 13-8 SEC) won its series over Alabama last weekend.

The Tigers have won five of their past six games and junior shortstop Josh Smith is leading hitter over that six-game stretch, batting .364 (8-for-22) with three doubles, one homer, five RBI and eight runs scored.

Ole Miss and LSU have met 329 times over their history. The Rebels have only played Mississippi State (465) and Alabama (361) more than the Tigers.

The Rebels went 3-1 against the Tigers a season ago, first taking a thrilling series in Oxford. Ole Miss dominated Game 1 of the series, using an 11-run sixth inning to secure a 14-3 blowout victory. The Rebels racked up 15 hits while also drawing 14 walks in the victory. The 11-run frame was the biggest inning in the Bianco era and the best by a Rebel team since 1999. It ended with the largest margin of victory for Ole Miss over LSU since 2011.

LSU turned around and won Game 2 behind an excellent outing on the mound from this year’s Friday night starter Ma’Khail Hilliard. However, the Rebels weren’t to be deterred and came back Sunday to win the series in a classic SEC battle. LSU led 6-4 going into the seventh inning, but Thomas Dillard put the Rebels on top with a majestic go-ahead three-run home run. The Tigers answered with a late run, but Parker Caracci closed out the win to earn his eighth save of the season.

Ole Miss and LSU then met again for the SEC Tournament Championship. The Tigers tallied the game’s first run, but it was all Rebels from then on out. Ole Miss responded with nine unanswered runs to capture the SEC title.

As the Rebels head to Baton Rouge this weekend, they will look to reverse a long-running trend at Alex Box Stadium. Ole Miss has not won a series in Baton Rouge since 1982.

The probable starters for this series will have the arms of RHP Will Ethridge (tonight), LHP Doug Nikhazy (Saturday) on the mound for the red and blue. The Rebels are still TBA on the starter for Sunday. The Tigers will call on the arms of RHP Ma’Khail Hilliard (tonight), RHP Eric Walker (Saturday) and RHP Landon Marceaux (Sunday).

Fans can watch all the action of this series on SEC Network + on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. respectfully. Sunday’s game will be on ESPN 2 at 2 p.m. The games will also be carried on the Ole Miss Radio Network.

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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