Matchup: Ole Miss (6-1) vs. Memphis (4-2)
Date: March 2, 2016
Location: Oxford, Miss.
Venue: Swayze Field
Television: SEC Network+
Will Kollmeyer, play-by-play
David Dellucci, analyst
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network
Eli Savoie, play-by-play
Keith Kessinger, analyst
Live Audio: OleMissSports.com
Series: Ole Miss leads 91-52
Last Series: March 31/April 22, 2015
Series split, 1-1
Memphis, Tenn./Oxford, Miss.
Kids Night! Kids 12 and under get in FREE
$1 Hot Dog Night
– The Rebels enter this week with a 6-1 record after taking two-of-three from No. 2 Louisville last weekend.
– Ole Miss has won its past three series over teams ranked top-two in the country, dating back to last year.
– 28,659 fans watched the Rebels take down No. 2 Louisville, the third-most for a three-game series in Swayze Field history.
– Ole Miss is ranked as high as No. 13 in the national polls, its highest ranking since making the 2014 College World Series.
– Through the first two weekends of the season, the Ole Miss bullpen holds a combined ERA of 1.86.
– Tate Blackman has recorded a hit in every game this season for a seven-game hitting streak.
– Ole Miss closer Wyatt Short leads the SEC with three saves.
– The Rebels are 4-0 this season when scoring a run in the first inning, outscoring opponents 15-4 in the opening frame.
– Ole Miss and Memphis begin a home-and-home series for the seventh straight season.
– The Rebels and Tigers have split the season series in five of the past six years.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUP
WEDNESDAY, 3 P.M.
Memphis – James Muse, Fr., RHP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA (0.2 IP)
Ole Miss – James McArthur, Fr., RHP, 0-0, 6.75 ERA (4.0 IP)
– Got the start in last week’s midweek game versus Arkansas State
– Tossed three innings while on a pitch count versus the Red Wolves
– Made his Ole Miss debut vs. FIU, tossing 1.0 inning of relief
– Gave up one run on one walk and one hit against the Panthers
– Is one of the tallest Rebels on the team, standing 6’7″ alongside Sean Johnson
– Joined Cameron Dishon as the only two Rebels from the state of Texas
Memphis enters the rivalry contest after sweeping SIU Edwardsville to improve to 4-2 on the season. The Tigers began the season against in-state foe Tennessee, dropping the series. Junior outfielder Darien Tubbs leads Memphis with a .440 average at the plate; six of Tubbs’ 11 hits have gone for extra bases, and he paces the team with seven runs scored. Fellow classmate and outfielder Chris Carrier is hitting .391 and serves as a threat on the base path, stealing bases on four of his attempts. On the mound, Memphis will rely on freshman James Muse for the midweek start. Muse has only pitched 0.2 innings this year, retiring two of the three batters he faced. Daron Schoenrock is in his 14th season at the helm of the program.
A TIGHT SERIES
Separated by just 70 miles, Ole Miss and Memphis have played a home-and-home series in each of the past six seasons. In five of those seasons, the series was split with each team earning one victory over the other, providing competitive battles during recent years. Overall, Ole Miss has dominated the all-time series; the two teams have met on the diamond 143 times with the Rebels holding a 91-52 advantage. Mike Bianco is 21-9 against Memphis in 15 years as the Rebels’ head coach.
OLE MISS IN THE POLLS
Heading into the season, Ole Miss was only ranked in one top-25 poll. However, starting the season 6-1 and winning a weekend series over No. 2 Louisville have earned the Rebels respect in the national rankings. As the only publication to rank Ole Miss in its top-25 at the beginning of the season, Baseball America continues to be impressed with the Rebels by ranking them No. 13 in this week’s poll. Perfect Game moved Ole Miss up nine spots to 15th this week, while the Rebels have cracked both Collegiate Baseball and D1Baseball’s rankings at No. 17. Finally, Ole Miss moved up double digits in the poll conducted by the National College Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), leaping from 28th to 18th.
SUCCESS AGAINST TOP-RANKED TEAMS
After claiming a series victory over No. 2 Louisville, Ole Miss continued its recent success against the nation’s top teams. The Rebels have won their past three series when facing top-2 ranked teams dating back to last season. In 2015, Ole Miss took series over Florida and Vanderbilt, which were both No. 1 at the time of the conference games. The Rebels boast a 8-5 record over top-10 teams throughout the past two seasons.
Ole Miss waste no time striking first, outscoring the opposition 15-4 in the first inning. The Rebels have scored in the opening frame four times this season, winning each one of those ballgames. The Rebels tallied 13 runs in the first inning on opening weekend, including nine in the series finale. The fast start gave the Rebels momentum in each game, helping lead to the series sweep of FIU. In the series opener versus No. 2 Louisville, junior J.B. Woodman belted a two-run homer to right field in the first, giving Ole Miss the early lead that it kept throughout the contest to hand the top-ranked Cardinals their first loss of the season.
A major factor to the Rebels’ 6-1 start can be credited to clutch hitting. With a runner on third and less than two outs, Ole Miss has knocked the runner in 20 out of 24 chances (.833). The Rebels are hitting at a .393 clip with runners in scoring position and post a .619 success rate at advancing runners on base. Tate Blackman and J.B. Woodman lead the Ole Miss bats in clutch situations. Blackman is 4-for-5 with runners in scoring position, while Woodman is hitting .625 with a team-high five hits in that category.
Throughout the spring and fall, there was talk about the improvement of Tate Blackman. After going through a difficult freshman season, the Altamonte Springs, Florida native was determined to prove that his 2015 preseason expectations (before he even took the field in an Ole Miss uniform) were more than just hype. Putting in the time to get better during the offseason, Blackman’s hard work has paid off with an impressive start to 2016. The second baseman has recorded at least on hit in each game for a seven-game hitting streak, and he has also produced four multi-hit performances. Blackman leads the Rebels in batting average (.524), hits (11), runs (8), doubles (2), slugging percentage (.762) and on-base percentage (.600).
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
Swayze Field provides the best atmosphere and some of the biggest crowds across the country for college baseball games. Rebel Nation has taken advantage of the nice weather to come out to the ballpark in full force to see Ole Miss Baseball open the 2016 season. Through the first two weekends, the Rebels have averaged 8,833 fans per game, including three contests with the attendance over 10,000. In total, 61,831 fans have watched Ole Miss Baseball at Swayze Field this season. The third-largest combined attendance for a three-game home series (28,659) watched the Rebels take two-of-three from No. 2 Louisville over the weekend. On Saturday, the fourth-largest crowd in Swayze Field history (10,561) watched the Rebels battle the Cardinals. Attendance on opening day was 10,129, the sixth-largest in stadium history and the biggest opening day crowd in school history. More than 10,000 fans watched the Rebels win game two against FIU, and the three-game series attendance totaled 26,910 (8,970 average). That mark set an opening series record and also ranks seventh for three-game series attendance at Ole Miss.
After facing Memphis to close out an eight-game homestand to start the season, Ole Miss hits the road for the first time in 2016. Leaving Oxford for the weekend, the Rebels will travel to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for a tournament hosted by Coastal Carolina, March 4-6. Along with facing the Chanticleers (Saturday), Ole Miss will battle Ball State (Friday) and Cincinnati (Sunday).