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Rebels Gear up for No. 9 Mississippi State in Annual Governor’s Cup Game

Rebels Gear up for No. 9 Mississippi State in Annual Governor’s Cup Game

After a series loss at Auburn last weekend, Ole Miss baseball heads to Trustmark Park in Pearl to take on No. 9 Mississippi State in the 40th annual Governor’s Cup game.

For the 40th time, Ole Miss baseball will take on Mississippi State in the Governor’s Cup game in Pearl, Miss. Tonight’s matchup comes between the No. 19 Rebels and the 9th-ranked Bulldogs as the regular season begins to wind down. Ole Miss sits at 27-14 (10-8 SEC), while the Bulldogs are 32-9 (10-8 SEC). The teams are tied for 4th best in the SEC West; however, just two games separates these two teams from the top spot in the West.

The Governor’s Cup

Formerly the Mayor’s Trophy game, this midweek matchup between the Rebels and Bulldogs has happened annually in the Jackson, Miss. area for 40 years straight. Despite this being a matchup against a conference opponent, the Governor’s Cup does not count towards SEC standings.

All-time, Mississippi State leads the series 21-18, with the Rebels’ last win coming in 2015.

In 2007, the game was permanently moved to Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss., where the teams have competed for the Governor’s Cup ever since. The park seats nearly 10,000 fans, and tonight it is expected to be nearly full as both teams are fighting to climb up the ladder with just 15 games left in the season.

Last We Saw Them

The last time we saw the Rebels was over the weekend when they went to Plainsman Park to face Auburn. The Rebels lost game one, 7-4, on Thursday night, but then bounced back on Friday for a 5-3 win. However, on Saturday, the Rebels fell in extra innings by a score of 6-5.

While the Rebels were on the road in Auburn, Mississippi State was busy with Arkansas, where they didn’t fare too well, themselves. The Bulldogs lost all three games, marking the first time this season they have been swept in a series.

What to Expect Tonight

Tonight, we expect to see Zack Phillips on the bump for the Rebels. The lefty is 4-1 this season with a 4.58 ERA. The Rebels have won the last two games he’s started including last week’s Memphis game, where he struck out six batters in 6.0 innings to earn the win.

On the other side, the Bulldogs will be throwing Peyton Plumlee, who sits 2-3 on the year with a 4.08 ERA.

The Rebels’ offense will need to continue to stay hot if they want to snap a three-year drought vs. Mississippi State in this game.

Leading the way on offense for Ole Miss as of late has been shortstop Grae Kessinger. Kessinger has reached base in 29 straight games. On top of that, he leads the SEC in hits, RBI, batting average, total bases, and slugging percentage in SEC play. He’s hitting .453 with 19 runs scored, 21 RBI, and 11 XBH.

(If you’re not a big baseball person…that’s really really good.)

Grae Kessinger hits a double that gives Ole Miss a 4-3 lead over Arkansas and would ultimately be the difference in the game. (Photo: Andy Shupe, NWA Democrat-Gazette)

Kessinger hasn’t been the only offense this season, though. Third baseman Tyler Keenan sits 9th in the nation and 2nd in the SEC with 51 RBI and is hitting .303 right now.

Along with Kessinger and Keenan, Ryan Olenek, Cole Zabowski, and Thomas Dillard are also hitting above .300. (Olenek has been out with a hip injury, but he is expected to play tonight.)That right there is the meat of the Rebels’ lineup, and they sure are providing the offense. Those five hitters have accounted for 33 of the Rebels’ 47 home runs and 184 of the team’s 285 RBI.

On the other hand, Ole Miss has been playing great defense as of late, led by catcher Cooper Johnson. The Buster Posey Award Watch List nominee has thrown out 15 runners this season, the most in the SEC, while also batting .283 with 5 HR and 18 RBI.

Quick Hits

  • This season, the Rebels are 11-3 in night games and 23-5 against right-handed starting pitchers.
  • Coach Mike Bianco is one win away from moving into 3rd place all time in the SEC coaching record books. A win tonight would give him 738 on his career, tying him with South Carolina’s Ray Tanner.
  • The Rebels have scored the 13th-most runs in the nation this season at 317, good for 3rd in the SEC. They’re also averaging 7.7 runs per game, the third-most in the conference and 17th in the country.
  • Ole Miss is second in the SEC and No. 19 in the country with a .403 team on-base percentage. The Rebels have drawn 219 walks on the season, good for 15th in the nation and third in the conference.
  • Ole Miss has hit 47 home runs on the season, good for fourth in the SEC and 19th in the country.
  • The Rebels have stolen 69 bases this season, the third-most in the SEC.

Game Info:

Date: April. 23
First Pitch: 6 p.m.
Location: Pearl, Miss.
Venue: Trustmark Park (8,480) Dimensions: LF-330, CF-402, RF-332
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network
Play by Play: David Kellum
Analyst: Keith Kessinger Governor’s Cup/Mayor’s Trophy History: MSU leads 21-18
Last Governor’s Cup: April 24, 2018: 7-6, MSU
Series History: MSU leads 247-213
Last Series: April 7-8, 2018 in Starkville 13-3, MSU | 6-1, Ole Miss | 7-5, MSU (11 inn.)

About The Author

Jake Evans

Jake, a 2021 graduate of Ole Miss with a degree in Integrated Marketing and Communications, is from Nashville, TN. Along with his work at The Rebel Walk, Jake hosts "The Flagship Football Show" podcast. He's also a huge fan of the Rebels, Titans, Predators, and Braves.

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