By Adam Brown
Ole Miss returns to the diamond this weekend for an SEC tilt against their in-state rival the Mississippi State Bulldogs over the weekend. The first pitch is set for Thursday at 6 p.m. and can be seen on SEC Network.
Ole Miss (21-15, 5-10 SEC) will open a four-game series with the Bulldogs on Thursday. The final game will be played on Tuesday in Pearl at the annual Governors Cup. The Rebels look to bounce back after three-straight losses as they dropped the backend of the series to South Carolina and a midweek matchup to Southeast Missouri (13-3) on Tuesday.
The Rebels made the turn at the break hitting. 241 as a club in conference play. Ole Miss is led at the dish by their captain Tim Elko who carries a .407 average into conference action. Elko has eight home runs in SEC play and 15 overall on the year.
Mississippi State rolls into town with a 22-16 overall record and a 6-9 mark in SEC play. The Bulldogs are coming off a 12-2 (7 inn.) win over Jackson State on Tuesday after taking the series from Auburn over the weekend.
Mississippi State has two sluggers hitting over .320 on the season in Kameren James (.324) and Brad Cumbest (.321). The Bulldogs have RJ Yeager and Hunter Hnes tied for the team lead in home runs with 11 each.
As a club, the Bulldogs come into the weekend with a .275 team batting average while opponents are hitting .244 on the season.
Coach Mike Bianco will send Dylan DeLucia (Thursday), Hunter Elliott (Friday) and Derek Diamond on the bump Saturday. Deluica is 2-0 in league play with a 4.56 ERA. Last week against South Carolina he allowed one run on six hits with four strikeouts. Mississippi State will send RHP Brandon Smith (Thursday), RHP Preston Johnson (Friday) and RHP Cade Smith (Saturday). Smith is 2-2 on the season with a 4.14 ERA with 33 strikeouts and four walks.
Ole Miss and Mississippi State have met up 466 times previously, by far the most played rivalry in the Southeastern Conference. The Rebels are looking to snap a streak of six-consecutive losses to Mississippi State in Oxford and are seeking their first series victory against the Bulldogs since 2015.
Game times for this series are set for Thursday (6 p.m. SEC Network), Friday (6:30 p.m. SEC Network+) and Saturday (3:30 p.m. ESPN2).