Rebels, Bulldogs return to diamond

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

When Mississippi State and Ole Miss met in Pearl on Tuesday night, they were clearly two teams headed in different directions. The question now is whether they’ll maintain their respective trajectories this weekend.
The No. 21-ranked Bulldogs (27-9, 5-7 SEC) won that game, 5-1, sending the No. 23 Rebels (23-10, 4-8) to their sixth consecutive loss. Perhaps the Rebels can stop the bleeding with a three-game home series versus Alabama, starting with tonight’s 6:30 tilt.
Coach Mike Bianco believes that will require a little more toughness and a lot fewer walks. Ole Miss pitching issued 10 walks and hit a batter against MSU, and that’s been a problem this season: The Rebels have walked 49 batters in SEC play, 12th in the league.
“It will go down looking at the offense with only one run, but at the end of the day, we’re not tough enough,” Bianco said. “It’s amazing, to give them 11 free baserunners and for them to only score five runs.”
MSU has won four of its last five games and is taking on a Texas A&M squad that’s dropped five of its last seven. Tonight’s first pitch is set for 6:30.
After losing the first three SEC series of the season, State took two of three from Florida last weekend.
Players and coaches said during their rough stretch that things would turn around, and they expect to keep rolling in College Station this weekend. Second baseman Brett Pirtle sees the offense coming around of late and expects that to continue.
“We’ve got a good lineup, so we’re always going to put swings on it,” he said. “Sometimes they’re not going to fall, and sometimes they will, so you’ve just got to let it ride out.”
brad.locke@journalinc.com