By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
Ole Miss and Mississippi State are a combined 47-14 this baseball season, but they’re lagging behind in the SEC West.
That’s something they can change this weekend, as both have home conference series.
Ole Miss is 4-5 in the league, fifth in the Western Division, while MSU is a game back at 3-6.
The Rebels will try to slow Vanderbilt at Swayze Field. The Commodores moved up to No. 2 in the Baseball America Top 25 after last week’s sweep of Tennessee. They lead the Eastern Division at 8-1.
Mississippi State, which fell out of the Baseball America top 25 this week, will try to do what the Rebels could not – win a weekend series against Florida.
Both of tonight’s games start at 6:30 p.m.
“For sure this series is big, kind of get us on a roll,” MSU pitcher Kendall Graveman said. “We’re confident still. We’re still a team that knows we can win a lot of games, and we’ve already won some games.”
The Gators were just 2-4 when they blanked Ole Miss on Saturday and Sunday to win the series, causing Ole Miss to slide six spots to No. 17 in the poll after peaking at No. 6 two weeks ago.
Rebels coach Mike Bianco is hoping his senior left fielder can make more of an impact offensively.
Tanner Mathis was the Rebels’ hottest hitter at the end of last season but has been slow out of the gate in 2013, hitting just .248 right now.
“He’s missed more pitches, swung through more pitches this year than I’ve seen in a long time. There have been some at-bats that don’t seem very Mathis-like … easy outs, not all of them but sprinkled in his body of work,” Bianco said. “He obviously hasn’t gotten off to a good start, but he’s always been a finisher, always played better in the second half. I think he’s very close.”