Caleb Reed hasn't seen Mississippi State defeat Ole Miss in the annual Governor's Cup game, which will be renewed tonight in Pearl at 6:30 (CSS). The Rebels have won the last two meetings, and Reed, a junior relief pitcher, is anxious to see the Bulldogs break through.
"We're always trying to beat Ole Miss in everything we play them in," Reed said. "I'd really love to go ahead and get this win under our belt, and I believe our team this year, we're very confident, we're playing well together, and I think we have just as good a shot as any for sure."
In this series – formerly known as the Mayor's Trophy – Ole Miss has won seven of the last nine meetings. Reed has never pitched in the series, and he probably won't tonight after going five-plus innings in Sunday's 5-3 win over Arkansas. He's been the best of a solid MSU bullpen, owning a 0.88 ERA.
Reed and his teammates will obviously be more excited about this game than most other mid-week affairs. Coach John Cohen would rather all games be treated the same, but he understands how it works.
"It's a big game for us as a team," Reed said, "to keep our confidence up, get our winning streak going again coming off a big win on Sunday. It's just a big game in general for us, I believe. Just about any game is this time of year, but being against a big in-state rival, it'll be really big for us."
Sophomore right-hander Kendall Graveman (3-0, 3.45) will start on the hill for MSU opposite Ole Miss lefty Matt Tracy (3-2, 4.46).
Tonight's game is important beyond the rivalry aspect. While it doesn't count in the SEC standings, it's a chance for MSU to boost its RPI rating and postseason résumé. The Bulldogs (22-14, 6-9 SEC) are currently 27th in the country – already two spots up from yesterday – while the Rebels (23-14, 8-7) are 32nd.
Cohen claims he doesn't pay much mind to RPIs.
"This might be the wrong attitude for me to have about it, but I really don't think about RPI that much, because the SEC is RPI central," he said. "The folks we have coming in this weekend (South Carolina), their RPI speaks for itself. … I just think about these games in terms of, we need to play well. We need to be consistent, we need to find ways to score runs. I don't think about the RPI part of it. Maybe I should."
Cohen does like the "tournament-type atmosphere" tonight's game creates. A large crowd is expected at Trustmark Park.
"You feel like more is on the line than in a typical midweek game."