JOHN L. PITTS: College baseball on top in our state

JOHN L. PITTS

JOHN L. PITTS

TUPELO

The first rule of successful entertainment is to always leave the crowd wanting more.

It worked for Elvis and for Shakespeare. Why should it be any different for college baseball?

When it comes to the rivalry between Ole Miss and Mississippi State, fans can’t wait for the next episode.

The Rebels and Bulldogs have played four times this season, each winning twice. Ole Miss took two of the three that count in the SEC standings, two weeks ago in Starkville. MSU won the Governor’s Cup rematch on Tuesday night in Pearl.

With four SEC weekends remaining, the teams have identical 10-8 league records. Both are well-ranked in all the various college polls that are floating about.

But the really dazzling numbers are the attendance counts for the four games – almost 48,000. MSU set a Friday night record (13,224), an NCAA on-campus record (15,586) for the Saturday game and a record (39,181) for an on-campus series.

Naturally, Tuesday night’s game set another record, packing 8,496 into Trustmark Park.

What a golden age for college baseball in the state! Mississippi State’s trip to the College World Series seems to have kicked regional interest up another notch or two, and it was pretty high to begin with.

MSU (8,328) trails only LSU (10,746) in average national attendance, with Ole Miss (7,743) fourth. Southern Miss (2,863) is 18th on the list.

College baseball is still regarded as a bit of a curiosity in some parts of the country. Here’s hoping the SEC Network can spread the good news to all corners of the nation in 2015.

In the meantime, what we need is at least one more game between the state rivals this season. It might happen in the SEC tournament, but what would be more delicious is a rematch in the NCAA tourney. That would just about have to be in the College World Series, although a super regional matchup with a trip to Omaha at stake would be epic.

Random thoughts

• I half expected Rick Stansbury’s name to come up in connection with the Manchester United soccer coaching vacancy.

• I remember the first Earth Day. Don’t let anybody fool you, kids, the environment is much better now.

• So help me, I thought Chumbawumba was running for major of Jackson. I love those guys.

• Overheard in our office: “Turkey bacon? Turkeys don’t have bacon!”

John L. Pitts (john.pitts@journalinc.com) is sports editor of the Journal. He shares more random thoughts on Twitter @JohnLPitts