The SEC Thursday Night Game of the Week will feature an intrastate matchup between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Ole Miss Running Rebels in Oxford. Both teams are looking for a big series victory over their rivals and each team could use a series victory to help solidify a postseason bid.
Mississippi State enters the series with a 30-18 overall record while being 11-13 in conference play. The Bulldogs are currently on a six game winning streak after defeating Mississippi Valley State 13-3 on Tuesday night. They swept Tennessee in their most recent SEC tournament on the road in Knoxville.
Leading the offense this season has been senior Jarrod Parks. He is currently hitting .418 while hitting two homers and 32 RBI in 47 games. Senior Nick Vickerson has been fantastic this year stealing 24 bases in 27 attempts while being second on the team with a .316 batting average. Senior Jonathan Ogden is the top power hitter on the team with seven homers and 34 RBI while hitting .260.
The Mississippi State pitching staff enters the weekend with a team ERA of 3.98. They will start sophomore LHP Luis Pollorena tonight as he is 6-3 with a 2.61 ERA in 17 appearances including one start. Junior LHP Nick Routt will get the ball on Friday as he will make his ninth start of the season as he is 1-2 with a 3.66 ERA. Rounding out the weekend rotation will be sophomore RHP Chris Stratton who is 5-5 with a 4.84 ERA in 12 starts on the year. If the Bulldogs can get to the backend of their bullpen, Caleb Reed who has been one of the best closers in the country. He is 0-1 with an ERA of 0.88 in 41 innings pitched while picking up nine saves.
Ole Miss enters their weekend set with a 27-21 overall record while having an identical 11-13 SEC record. They are currently on a two game winning streak after defeating South Carolina on Saturday and Sunday last weekend.
The Rebels offnse is led by Alex Yarbrough and Tanner Mathis. Yarbrough is currently hitting .344 with six homers and 34 RBI while playing in all 48 games. Mathis is right on Yarbrough’s heels with a .343 batting average while driving in 28 runs. A huge loss for the Rebels is Matt Smith who has been out of the last week and will be out until the SEC Tourney at least after fracturing his third metacarpal in his left (glove) hand in a May 4th game against Arkansas State. Smith was hitting .305 with seven homers and 27 RBI in his 41 games played this year.
The Ole Miss pitching staff enters the weekend with a team ERA of 4.27. Junior LHP Matt Crouse will get the ball tonight against the Bulldogs. He is 6-4 with a 3.72 ERA while leading the team in innings pitched at 77.1. Crouse has struck out 52 batters and walked only 14 while holding opponents to a .270 batting average. Junior RHP David Goforth gets the ball on Friday as he is 4-6 with a 4.79 ERA in 12 starts on the year. He has won three out of his last four starts including a victory over South Carolina last weekend. Junior LHP Austin Wright will finish up the series for the Rebels getting the ball on Saturday. He is 4-4 in 60.1 innings pitched while having an ERA of 4.92. Jake Morgan serves as the team’s closer as he has five saves on the year while giving up only one unearned run in 22.1 innings pitched.
Probable Starting Pitchers
MSU – Luis Pollerano, Soph., LHP
OM - Matt Crouse, Jr., LHP
MSU – Nick Routt, Jr., LHP
OM - David Goforth, Jr., RHP
MSU – Chris Stratton, Soph., RHP
OM - Austin Wright, Jr., LHP
Prediction: Ole Miss 2-1