Sideline View by Dale McKee

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Ole Miss and Mississippi State are riding high into this week’s three-game Southeastern Conference baseball series in Oxford that may decide which team hosts an NCAA regional tournament this post season. This series is a big deal within the state borders and in the NCAA post-season landscape. The teams are presently tied for fourth place in the overall SEC standings. The top four teams are given a first round bye in the SEC tournament while the 5-12 seeded teams play a first day elimination game. State has won eight of the last ten games played between the teams. For these teams, their interstate rivalry means more because bragging rights are attached.

Rebels win first series in LSU since 1982

The Rebels (15-9, 32-17) lost Friday night as Rebel coach Mike Bianco's son Drew Bianco blasted a home run against his dad’s team. The following night, freshman hurler Doug Nikhazy pitched the Rebels to a 5-1 win over the Tigers. Then on Sunday, the teams combined for 45 hits as the Rebels won a 19-15 ten-inning affair that lasted over four hours. LSU trailed 7-0, 10-1 early in the game and still trailed 15-9 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. LSU subsequently scored a tenth run followed by a three-run shot and then two solo home runs to tie the game. The Rebels regained their composure to score four times in the tenth to take the game and the series.

MSU stingy at College Station

Mississippi State (15-9, 38-10) is coming off their third SEC series win of the season by taking two-of-three from Texas A&M in College Station. The Bulldog hurlers Ethan Small, T.J. Ginn and Peyton Plumlee allowed the Aggies only four runs in the series. Small threw a one-hitter on Thursday night as he retired the first 19 batters of the game. Ginn lost a 1-0 heartbreaker on Saturday before Plumlee led State to a 4-3 nightcap win.

USM loses battle but still on top

Florida Atlantic won the Conference USA series against USM, taking the first two games. USM catcher Cole Donaldson singled with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning allowing the Golden Eagles (18-6, 31-15) to claim an 8-7 Sunday win over the Owls (17-7, 32-15). USM will travel to Rice this weekend. Earlier in the week, USM won a 5-3 home contest over Ole Miss before an overflow crowd. The Eagles’ Matt Wallner hit two home runs and robbed the Rebels of one home run in leading USM to the win.

Country House wins Derby

For the first time in Kentucky Derby history, the horse that crossed the finish line first did not win the race. Maximum Security finished a few lengths ahead of Country House, but Country House’s jockey filed a protest claiming that Maximum Security impeded his horse. A correction was ordered by the game stewards after a 15-minute conference, naming Country House (65-1 odds) the winner in the 145th running of the roses.

Odds & Ends

The Conference USA baseball tournament will be in Biloxi beginning May 22 at the home of the Biloxi Shuckers. The conference has also agreed to bring the tournament back to the Gulf Coast in 2020.

The MHSAA state softball championship will be played beginning Thursday at USM and Mississippi State. The 1A, 3A and 5A tournaments will be in Hattiesburg while the 2A, 4A and 6A tournaments will be in Starkville with games at 1:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Former MSU baseball star Hunter Renfroe hit a walk-off grand slam Sunday against the L.A. Dodgers. The blast came with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with San Diego down, 5-4.

Contact Dale at ddmckee18@yahoo.com