STARKVILLE, Miss. --- Mississippi State puts the finishing touches on its regular season road schedule this weekend when the 13th-ranked Bulldogs (36-13/13-11 SEC) square off against No. 20 Ole Miss (33-16/12-12 SEC) in a key three-game series at UM’s Oxford-University Stadium.
Graduation weekend game times in Oxford are set for 6:30 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. The radio broadcast of all three MSU-UM baseball games can be heard on the statewide Bulldog Sports Network and online to HailstateTV subscribers (http://www.hailstate.com/hstvlive). Sunday’s series finale will be televised by Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS).
State senior lefty Luis Pollorena (6-2, 3.93) will be matched with Ole Miss junior right-hander Bobby Wahl (9-0, 1.2), the conference leader in earned run average, in Friday’s opener.
The Bulldogs, with wins in four of their last five SEC series, have earned their 29th SEC tournament berth. They are a half-game behind fourth-place South Carolina (33-14/13-10 SEC) and a game ahead of sixth-place Ole Miss to begin the weekend. The teams with the top four conference winning percentages earn opening round byes in the SEC Tournament and bypass the tournament’s opening-day single-elimination competition May 21. MSU posted a 5-1 mark in Hoover last year and blanked Vanderbilt 3-0 in the title game to capture the 2012 SEC Tournament, the program’s seventh SEC tournament crown.
Junior outfielder Hunter Renfroe (.394) hit his SEC-leading 15th home run in last weekend’s series sweep of Alabama in Starkville. The Crystal Springs, Miss., product, on the watch list for the 2013 Golden Spikes Award, leads the Bulldogs with 45 runs scored, 30 extra-base hits and 49 RBI while sporting a league-best .7891 slugging percentage.
State has prevailed in its last two series at O-U Stadium in Oxford. Including a 5-1 win in this year’s Governor’s Cup meeting Apr. 9 in Pearl, Miss., the Bulldogs have compiled a 241-197-5 all-time series lead in their oldest and most contested baseball rivalry, which got its start in 1893. MSU took two of three games in last year’s regular season series with Ole Miss at Dudy Noble Field (4-0, 2-6, 4-2). The Rebels hold a 95-92-3 leads in series games played in Oxford. But since UM started playing at Oxford-University Stadium in 1989, State is 22-12 and has won eight of 11 series played there.
MSU wraps up its 2013 regular season schedule on the home field next week, playing host to first-time foe Oral Roberts Tuesday (6:30 p.m.) before testing No. 12 South Carolina in a Thursday-through-Saturday series at Dudy Noble Field.Mississippi State is expected to surpass the five million mark in home paid attendance and set the MSU single-season paid home attendance record during the final week of the campaign. Since the charting of Dudy Noble Field attendance figures was initiated in 1976, MSU has totaled paid home attendance of 4,988,860. With last weekend’s competition, MSU raised its home paid attendance total in 2013 season to 213,054, surpassing the 200,000 mark for the seventh time in school history. With four home dates remaining, MSU is 19,961 away from bettering the single-season school paid attendance mark (233,015).