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Mississippi State baseball heads north for SEC battle against rival Ole Miss

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Thursday’s first pitch is set for 6 p.m. CT.

Mississippi State Athletics

OXFORD, Miss. — The Mississippi State baseball team heads north for a Southeastern Conference battle against in-state rival Ole Miss beginning Thursday at 6 p.m. CT at Swayze Field on SEC Network.

The series continues Friday at 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network+ and concludes with a 3:30 p.m. first pitch on Saturday on ESPN2.

The Bulldogs (22-16, 6-9 SEC) come in off a 17-2 run-rule victory over Jackson State on Tuesday. In that game, graduate student RJ Yeager was 2-for-4, including a grand slam, and accounted for six RBIs and three runs. Junior Kamren James finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs and three runs. Last weekend, MSU earned a series win over then-No. 17 Auburn.

Offensively, MSU is led by James with a .324 batting average with 45 hits, 35 runs and 34 RBIs. Senior Brad Cumbest is hitting .321 with 43 hits, 27 runs and 26 RBIs, while Yeager is hitting .306 with 37 hits, 35 RBIs and 25 runs. MSU is third in the SEC and eighth in the nation with 67 home runs on the season. Freshman Hunter Hines, who is hitting .272, is tied with Yeager for a team-high 11 home runs. Cumbest and sophomore Kellum Clark both have hit 10 home runs each.

The MSU pitching staff owns a 5.02 ERA, which ranks 10th in the SEC, and is allowing a .244 batting average by opponents, which ranks sixth in the SEC. MSU’s 411 strikeouts is No. 2 in the league and sixth in the nation.

The Rebels (21-15, 5-10 SEC) have lost seven of their last nine games and are currently on a three-game losing streak. They have dropped their last two SEC series after getting swept at home by Alabama and dropping two of their three games on the road at South Carolina. Last time out, Ole Miss fell to Southeast Missouri State 13-3 on Tuesday.

Ole Miss is led by senior Tim Elko, who is hitting .320 with 41 hits, 47 RBIs and 32 runs. He also leads the Rebels with 15 home runs. Sophomore Kemp Alderman is batting .306 with 30 hits, 25 runs and 17 RBIs, while senior Justin Bench is batting .301 with 40 hits, 31 runs and 26 RBIs.

Thursday’s game will mark the 474th meeting between the Bulldogs and Rebels on the diamond. MSU owns a 260-208-5 lead in the all-time series and has won 16 of the last 19 games over Ole Miss.

Thursday, April 21 (6 p.m. CT)

Probable Starters:

MSU: RHP Brandon Smith (2-2, 4.14 ERA)

OM: RHP Dylan Delucia (2-0, 5.03 ERA)

TV: SEC Network

Live Stats: http://stats.statbroadcast.com/statmonitr/?id=396055

Friday, April 22 (6:30 p.m. CT)

Probable Starters:

MSU: RHP Preston Johnson (3-2, 4.21 ERA)

OM: LHP Hunter Elliott (1-3, 3.33 ERA)

Live Video: SEC Network+

Live Stats: http://stats.statbroadcast.com/statmonitr/?id=396056

Saturday, April 23 (3:30 p.m. CT)

Probable Starters:

MSU: RHP Cade Smith (4-2, 3.42 ERA)

OM: RHP Derek Diamond (3-3, 6.02 ERA)

TV: ESPN2

Live Stats: http://stats.statbroadcast.com/statmonitr/?id=396057