13 Apr

monster weekend

The fun starts tonight at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. Ole Miss faces LSU in the opener of an SEC series, James McArthur vs. Alex Lange in a battle of aces. On Friday, at Founders Park in Columbia, S.C., Mississippi State opens its SEC series against South Carolina and, at Reckling Park in Houston, Southern Miss begins its C-USA series against Rice. These are captivating series for the Magnolia State’s Big 3 for a variety of reasons. Rankings, ratings, standings, pride … take your pick. Pitching-rich Ole Miss is 21-12 (6-6 SEC) with five straight wins but is currently unranked by Baseball America and not among the magazine’s picks for the NCAA Tournament field. LSU, ever the powerhouse, is 23-11 (7-5) and ranked ninth. USM, coming off a home loss to Ole Miss, is ranked 21st and projected to make a regional. The power-hitting Golden Eagles (46 homers) are 26-8 and lead C-USA with a 10-2 mark. Rice is having a rare down year: 12-23, 3-9. But the Owls, who just beat nationally ranked Houston, cannot be dismissed; USM has beaten them in only two of 11 series all-time. Mississippi State is ranked 13th by BA and takes a 23-12 (8-4 SEC) record into Columbia. The No. 17 Gamecocks are 21-11 (7-4), though perhaps a bit rattled by a 20-5 loss to North Carolina on Tuesday. Led by Brent Rooker’s video game numbers, the Bulldogs have been something of a surprise team, pegged – at the moment — to get a regional bid by Baseball America. “It’s going to be really hard for Mississippi State to keep this up, I think,” BA’s Teddy Cahill wrote in a chat this week. Sounds like bulletin board material, not that any is really needed for this particular monster weekend.

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