Sideline View by Dale McKee

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Mississippi State baseball continued their domination of Ole Miss with a weekend sweep in Oxford. It was the second straight year that State (42-10) has swept their in-state rivals. Over the last three seasons, they are 14-2 against the Rebels under three different head coaches. Mississippi State has positioned themselves for a top 4 seed in the Southeastern Conference that will begin on May 21 in Hoover. In the 2019 preseason SEC baseball projections, the ranking order was LSU, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Auburn, Texas A&M, MSU and Alabama in the Western Division. The final weekend will shake things up as Vanderbilt (20-7), Arkansas (19-8), Georgia (18-9) and MSU (18-9) are almost assured of a first round bye in the conference tournament.

Final Weekend

MSU will host last place South Carolina (7-20) beginning Thursday. Ole Miss (15-12, 32-20) despite the three losses at the hands of the Bulldogs will be a No. 5 or 6 seed in the SEC tournament as they travel to Tennessee.

USM lost two of three against Rice in Houston this weekend and are tied with Florida Atlantic for first place in the C-USA standings. Both squads are 19-8 in conference play, but FAU has the tiebreaker over the Golden Eagles based on a series win. USM slugger Matt Wallner hit his 15thhome run of the year this past weekend. The Minnesota native now is tied with Jeff Cook for second on the all-time USM list with 50 bombs.

Ole Miss and MSU softball teams made the NCAA tournament. Ole Miss will host this weekend a four-team regional while State goes to Seattle.

Delta State won their 15thGulf South Conference Baseball championship last week. The Statesmen (39-12) will play host to Embry-Riddle College of Daytona Beach in the Division II regionals beginning Thursday.

The Region 23 JUCO baseball tournament will be held in Itawamba later this week. Other teams in the tourney will be LSU-Eunice, Jones, Gulf Coast, Pearl River and Northwest. The winner advances to the Division II World Series in Oklahoma.

The Mississippi High School Athletic Association will host their state baseball championships this week at Trustmark Park in Pearl.

The C-Spire Dave “Boo” Ferris Award given to the top college baseball player in Mississippi will be announced next week. The award is named after Ferris, the former MSU player, Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer and long-time Delta State University coach. Former MSU All-American and Major League manager Buck Showalter will be the guest speaker. Luncheon tickets are on sale at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame for the Monday banquet that begins at 11:30 a.m.

Former Ferris Trophy winner Chris Stratton had a whirlwind week in professional baseball. The L.A. Angels traded him to the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash. On Sunday, he proved his worth to his new team as he pitched a scoreless sixth inning and earned his first win for the Pirates over the St. Louis Cardinals. The Pirates will use the former MSU All-American and first round pick of the S.F. Giants in 2012 as a middle reliever and spot starter. His career MLB pitching mark is 16-16.

Mississippi native Austin Riley is compared to Chipper Jones

Riley, 21, out of Southaven and DeSoto High School is a 6-3, 220-pounder who is the hottest player in the International League. He has homered 12 times in his last 16 games, bringing his total to 14. During that time he has hit .426 with 26 RBIs. Riley, who is leading the league in six offensive categories, is considered a third baseman but has also been playing left field for Gwinnett, the Braves’ top farm club.

Contact Dale at ddmckee18@yahoo.com