It took Southern Miss only 15 minutes on Thursday morning to sell out its season-opening baseball series with Mississippi State, but the Bulldogs apparently aren’t impressed.
MSU-USM has long been a contemptuous baseball rivalry, but it’s gone up another notch following the 2017 Hattiesburg Regional that featured USM, MSU, South Alabama and Illinois-Chicago. The Bulldogs beat the Golden Eagles twice on the final day, 8-1 and 8-6, at Pete Taylor Park to advance to the Super Regional at LSU.
It was an intense day of baseball that included a dramatic MSU rally and the ejection of USM head coach Scott Berry in the deciding game after he strongly expressed his displeasure with the umpiring. Due to that ejection, Berry will be suspended for the first two games of the MSU-USM series in Hattiesburg on Feb. 16-18. Hitting coach Chad Caillet will fill in for Berry.
Prior to the Hattiesburg Regional, MSU fans complained loudly on social media that tickets were hard to come by. Even though many of them still found their way into Pete Taylor Park during the regional, that was again the case in the lead-up to Thursday’s start of single-game ticket sales at USM.
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Most of the single-game tickets for the MSU series had already been scooped by USM season-ticket holders, who were given a chance to buy single-game seats before they went on sale Thursday. That left a small amount of tickets for the MSU faithful to buy, and they went quickly.
It’s apparent that MSU staff felt the need to recognize fans’ disappointment. When USM announced that it had already sold out the series, Mississippi State acknowledged the news on Twitter with a rolling eye emoji.
If you can’t find a ticket, you’ll have to listen to the radio broadcast or pay for a subscription to watch at ConferenceUSA.com/watch.
The acrimony between fans doesn’t necessarily reach the players and coaches. There was friendly banter between Berry and MSU head coach Andy Cannizaro prior to last year’s Hattiesburg Regional. Cannizaro’s father, Gary, is a former USM second baseman and a Hall-of-Famer at the school.
However, there’s obviously no love lost between a MSU baseball program that’s considered one of the nation’s traditional powers and a USM program that’s developed its own strong tradition that’s improving with time.
The weather may be a little too cool for baseball when the season begins with a 4 p.m. first pitch on Feb. 16, but you can expect a heated atmosphere at the Hattiesburg tailgate and among the fans who manage to work their way into 4,400-seat Pete Taylor Park.