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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

OHS-Starkville series has been pretty intense

COLUMN: Ole Miss and Mississippi State will meet each other in their annual three-game series later this week at Oxford-University Stadium. But before the Rebels and Bulldogs lock up Friday night, the two high school baseball teams from each city will play a third and decisive game tonight at O-U Stadium. Fitting huh?

In what has become a very intense series, the Chargers will be looking to defeat the Yellowjackets and advance in the MHSAA Class 5A playoffs. The two teams squabbled before the start of Game 1 and Game 2, although the pre-game meeting in the outfield prior to the start of Game 2 in Starkville was much more defined and personal if you will.

Some talk and a couple of shoves back and forth woke the Chargers up. They were already looking to redeem themselves for the 6-5 loss suffered in the opener so the extra back-and-forth only fueled their fire. The pre-game “bickering,” as Oxford’s Michael Bianco called it, ultimately led to a 9-1 win for the Chargers this past Thursday night. Now, after taking the weekend off, OHS and Starkville will decide which team is the best.

First pitch is set for 6 tonight.

“I think our guys are ready to play. It’s become a big series, it’s kind of got a rivalry feel to it now,” said OHS coach Chris Baughman, who never viewed this as an Ole Miss versus Mississippi State type series until this year. “I didn’t view it that way, that Ole Miss-State, Oxford-Starkville deal but it may be because I’m not originally from here. Now that we’ve gotten into the series, it has that intensity like it’s Rebels-Bulldogs. It’s fun.

“I think most of their kids are State fans and most of mine are Rebel fans. I can also see where having a Bianco on the team adds fuel to that rivalry fire,” Baughman added. “I can see where their kids might think that. I know they tried to get in (Bianco’s) head the other night and he did a great job of not letting it affect him.”

Delay helps some
Not playing on Friday or over the weekend may end up helping the Chargers more than hurting them thanks in large part to getting the pitching staff more rest.

“I’m OK with the delay. Steven (Whitfield) is probably going to start on the mound but now we’re looking at being able to bring back Jason (Barber) if we have to. I’ll have everybody available. We had some people that weren’t necessarily happy about the delay but the way I look at it, now we’ve got everybody available,” Baughman said. “We have the ability to swing it a little bit better and I will feel a little more comfortable if I have all hands on deck pitching wise on the mound and with the delay, Jason gets a couple extra days rest.” (May 6, 2013, Page 6A)

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