Matchup: Missouri (26-12, 7-8 SEC) at Ole Miss (23-14, 7-8 SEC)
Dates: April 21-23
Location: Oxford, Miss.
Venue: Swayze Field
Richard Cross, play-by-play
David Dellucci, play-by-play
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network
David Kellum, play-by-play
Keith Kessinger, analyst
Live Audio: OleMissSports.com
Series: Ole Miss leads 8-6
Last Series: May 1-3, 2015
Missouri won two of three
» Military Appreciation Weekend
Friday, April 21, 6:30 pm
» 1,000 Replica Ole Miss Digital Camo Hat Giveaway
» 2,000 Rebel Towel Giveaway
» Friday Night Fireworks presented by Newks
Sunday, April 23, 1:30 pm
» Family Catch presented by Chick-fil-A – Families are invited to bring their gloves and take part in a game of catch after the game in the outfield.
» 1,000 Baseball Card Pack Giveaway (4 of 5)
» Meet the Rebels Poster Giveaway
» Kids Run the Bases presented by Belles and Beaus – Kids are invited to come down on the field following the completion of the game.
– Ole Miss has the second-toughest SEC schedule for the remainder of the season.
– Head coach Mike Bianco is two wins away from moving into sixth on the SEC all-time wins list.
– The Rebels swept the Tigers the last time the two teams met at Swayze Field (March 21-23, 2014).
– The Ole Miss weekend rotation of James McArthur, David Parkinson and Ryan Rolison holds a cumulative 2.47 ERA.
– Colby Bortles leads the SEC in sacrifice flies (6), ranking 11th nationally.
– The Rebels are 18-1 when scoring at least four runs.
– Ole Miss is the only SEC pitching staff with a sub-3.00 ERA.
– Ole Miss pitching leads the SEC in ERA (2.90), strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.50), WHIP (1.13) and fewest walks allowed per nine innings (2.74).
– The Rebels rank top 10 nationally in four different pitching categories: ERA (9th), shutouts (7th), strikeout-to-walk ratio (3rd) and WHIP (3rd).
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
FRIDAY, 6:30 P.M.
Missouri – Tanner Houck, Jr., RHP, 3-5, 2.95 ERA, 48.1 IP
Ole Miss – James McArthur, So., RHP, 2-2, 3.03 ERA, 38.2 IP
– Holds the best WHIP (1.09) among Ole Miss starting pitchers
– Collected a win against Alabama, going 7.0 innings and allowing only one run on two hits to go along with seven strikeouts
– Tossed 5.0 innings and only surrendered one run to earn the win over No. 19 Kentucky
– Against No. 23 UNCW, recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts and did not allow a hit until the sixth inning; pitched 6.0 innings and allowed just one run on two hits and one walk (no decision)
– 2016 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American (Collegiate Baseball)
– Pitched in 15 games, making 12 starts last year (primarily in midweek games)
– Standing 6’ 7”, tied with Sean Johnson as the tallest Rebel on the team
SATURDAY, 4 P.M.
Missouri – Michael Plassmeyer, So., LHP, 6-1, 3.71 ERA, 43.2 IP
Ole Miss – David Parkinson, Jr., LHP, 5-2, 2.68 ERA, 53.2 IP
– Earned a win over No. 8 LSU last week, allowing only one run over 6.1 innings
– Only Rebel pitcher to start during every weekend of the season
– Tossed 6.0 frames without allowing a run to earn the win over No. 15 Vanderbilt
– Named SEC Pitcher of the Week after tossing a career-high 8.0 scoreless innings versus Furman (March 10), facing the minimum and allowing only one hit to go along with a career-high nine strikeouts; took a no-hitter into the eighth inning.
– Against No. 23 UNCW, retired the first 12 hitters he faced and finished his night allowing one earned run on three hits with six strikeouts
– Made 22 appearances, including nine starts, and logged 68.0 innings last season
– Transferred to Ole Miss in 2016 after spending one season at Florence-Darlington Technical School
SUNDAY, 1:30 P.M.
Missouri – Bryce Montes De Oca, Jr., RHP, 3-2, 3.06 ERA, 35.1 IP
Ole Miss – Ryan Rolison, Fr., LHP, 4-2, 2.19 ERA, 37.0 IP
– Has made 14 appearances this season, including five starts
– In his five starts, holds a 1.93 ERA (28.0 innings)
– Claimed his first SEC win in his second conference start, giving up one run and striking out seven over 5.2 innings versus Alabama (April 9)
– Pitched 6.0 innings and recorded seven strikeouts vs. Nicholls (March 14), both career highs
– Earned the win in his first career appearance, pitching one inning vs. No. 6 East Carolina (Feb. 19)
– Rated as the No. 10 freshman prospect in the nation (D1Baseball.com)
– As a senior in high school, recorded 108 strikeouts in 58.0 innings to earn USA TODAY’s Mr. Baseball in the state of Tennessee, also earning first team All-USA honors
– Drafted in the 37th round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres
The Tigers got off to a fast start to 2017. After dropping its season opener to Eastern Michigan, Missouri rattled off 20 straight wins. The second-longest winning streak in school history put the Tigers at 20-1 entering SEC play. Missouri started 7-8 through the first half of conference action, winning series over Alabama (March 17-19) and Georgia (April 6-8) while dropping weekend sets to Arkansas (March 24-26), Florida (March 31-April 2) and Kentucky (April 13-15). Sophomore outfielder Connor Brumfield has led the Tigers in batting average throughout the year (.345 batting average), while also showing his speed on the base path as one of the team’s best in triples (3) and stolen bases (10). Trey Harris provides power at the plate; over the weekend, Harris hit four home runs in consecutive plate appearances to increase his total to 11 on the year. On the mound, Missouri ace Tanner Houck (3-5, 2.93 ERA) is a highly-touted prospect for the MLB Draft in June. TJ Sikemma has been the Tigers’ go-to reliever, posting a 1.49 ERA to go along with team-highs in saves (4) and relief wins (6). Missouri is led by first-year head coach Steve Bieser, the 14th head baseball coach in school history and just the fourth since 1937. Bieser came to Mizzou from Southeast Missouri, a team the Rebels knocked off twice in 2016.
Ole Miss leads the all-time series with Missouri 8-6, dating back to 1958. Since Missouri joined the conference, the two teams have only met for a pair of three-game series. Ole Miss swept the Tigers at Swayze Field in 2014 on its way to the College World Series. One year later, the last time the conference foes battled on the diamond, Missouri took two-of-three games from the Rebels in Columbia.
REBELS BREAK OUT THE BATS VERSUS UAPB
On Wednesday, Ole Miss jumped out to an 8-1 lead after the first two innings, cruising to a 14-6 midweek win over UAPB at Swayze Field. The Rebels plated six runs in the second, tying their highest offensive output in an inning all season, to remain undefeated all-time (7-0) against the Golden Lions. Eleven Rebels recorded hits throughout the night, led by third baseman Colby Bortles. The senior went 3-for-3 with three RBI and two runs. Ryan Olenek and Tim Rowe added three RBI apiece as well, producing doubles to knock in multiple runs. In his second start of the season, sophomore DJ Miller hit his first career home run. Ten different Rebels scores runs as well with Tate Blackmancrossing the plate a game-high three times. Off the bench, Ole Miss went 3-for-4 pinch hitting as Bryce Blaum, Michael Fitzsimmons and Bryan Seamster chalked up singles. On the mound, freshman Greer Holston won his second game in as many starts, lasting 5.0 innings and striking out a career-high seven hitters. Fellow freshman Houston Rothtossed a pair of innings without allowing a run and tallied four strikeouts.
FOUR IS THE MAGIC NUMBER
In terms of offense, four seems to be the magic number for Ole Miss. With an outstanding pitching staff, the Rebels are 18-1 when scoring at least four runs in a game. The lone loss when plating more than four runs was the team’s first setback of the season; Memphis defeated Ole Miss 9-6 at Swayze Field (Feb. 28).
In his first 129 games as a Rebel, Tate Blackman hit four home runs. Over the past seven contests, the junior second baseman has equaled that total to boast eight career homers. The Altamonte Springs, Florida, native first flexed his muscles with walk-off home run against Alabama (April 8). Just six days later, Blackman recorded the first multi-homer game of his career to lead Ole Miss to a 4-1 win over No. 8 LSU (April 14). Blackman hit two home runs, starting the contest with a solo blast before adding another in the sixth, to become the first Rebel to have a multi-homer game since J.B. Woodman (May 7, 2016). Beginning the game with a leadoff home run, Blackman was the first Rebel to hit a homer to start a game since Tim Ferguson (March 9, 2010 vs. Austin Peay). Coincidentally, he was the first Ole Miss slugger to hit a leadoff homer in an SEC game since Brad Henderson did it at LSU (March 28, 1999). In the series finale versus the Tigers, Blackman homered again for his third throughout the final two games of the weekend.
FOCUS ON FORTES
Nick Fortes waited for his opportunity and since receiving it, he has taken advantage of it. With the help of his bat, the sophomore has started 12 of the Rebels’ last 14 games behind the plate as well as his first career start at first base (vs. UAPB, April 19). Since assuming the starting duties, Fortes is hitting .375 (15-for-40). He has reached base in nine straight games, recording at least one hit in eight of those contests. Over the weekend, Fortes belted his second career home run to help Ole Miss knock off No. 8 LSU 4-1 (April 14). In 24 games this season, including 18 starts, he leads the team with a .317 batting average, including a blistering .429 in SEC play. The Deland, Florida, native has also thrown out five baserunners in 2017.
OLEY, OLEY, OLEY!
Ryan Olenek got off to a hot start by earning SEC Player of the Week honors the first weekend of the season, and the Ole Miss center fielder has continued to be one of the leaders at the plate. The sophomore ranks third in the SEC with a team-high 13 doubles to go along with a .279 batting average. Olenek has also produced four three-hit games to pace the Ole Miss bats, while also going 7-for-8 in stolen bases. Over the last 11 games, Olenek is hitting .341 (14-for-40) with eight doubles.
ON THE MOUND
The Ole Miss pitching staff has been efficient on the mound this season, leading the SEC in several categories and ranking among the best in the nation.
|Stat||National Rank||SEC Rank|
OUTFIELD FLASHING THE LEATHER
Last season, the Ole Miss outfield recorded 17 assists, one off the school record of 18 set in 2014. Despite the loss of All-American J.B. Woodman to professional baseball, the Rebel outfielders have continued to make plays this season. Ole Miss has tallied nine outfield assists in 2017. Will Golsan and Ryan Olenek lead the way with three apiece, while Thomas Dillard, Bryan Seamster and Kyle Watson each have one outfield assist to their credit.
Past the halfway point of the 2017 regular season, it’s clear that Ole Miss is a young baseball team. On the mound, 76 percent of the innings pitched have been by freshmen or sophomores, including 37 percent by freshmen only. Offensively, the underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) have taken 57 percent of the team’s at-bats with a freshman stepping up to the plate 31 percent of the time.
ROWE THAT BOAT!
After mixing up the designated hitter role through the first half of the season, the Rebels may have found their guy. Junior college transfer Tim Rowe has posted a .346 batting average over the past eight games. During the Rebels’ winning streak two weeks ago, the Hernando, Mississippi, native hit .500 throughout the four-game week to pace the Ole Miss bats. On the year, Rowe is hitting .292 with a team-high .477 slugging percentage over 28 games.
Sophomore Dallas Woolfolk, whose fastball ranges from 94-97 mph, has been nearly unhittable this season. The Southaven, Mississippi, native holds a team-low 0.98 ERA over a team-high 19 appearances. Along with tallying 31 strikeouts and issuing only two walks, Woolfolk is 3-1 and boasts seven saves as the team’s primary closer. Moreover, Woolfolk has shown that he’s more than just a one-inning wonder by recording at least four outs to earn four of his saves. In 27.2 innings, Woolfolk is holding opposing hitters to a .138 batting average.
FINISHING THE JOB
Over the past few seasons, Ole Miss has been lights out when holding a lead after the eighth inning. In fact since March 15, 2014, the Rebels are a blistering 108-1 in games they’ve led heading into the ninth. The lone loss occurred during the 2016 NCAA Regional when a Tulane two-run homer shocked Ole Miss at Swayze Field. This season, the Rebels hold a 20-0 mark when ahead through eight innings of play.
With 15 freshmen as part of the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class, some of the newest young Rebels are making an impact right away. Ole Miss has started four freshmen in the majority of games: LF/DH Thomas Dillard (32 starts), C Cooper Johnson (20 starts), SS Grae Kessinger (34 games) and 1B Cole Zabowski (21 starts). On the mound, five freshmen have made their presence known as well: Jason Barber (three appearances), Will Ethridge (11 appearances), Greer Holston (12 appearances), Ryan Rolison (14 appearances) and Houston Roth (11 appearances).
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
Swayze Field provides the best atmosphere and some of the biggest crowds across the country for college baseball games. The Rebels have won over 70 percent of their home games throughout the past 28 seasons. The combination of winning baseball plus an electric fan base makes Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field a bucket list item for any sports fan. A 2016 survey conducted by D1Baseball.com proved it as Division I baseball coaches ranked Swayze Field top 10 nationally in six different categories, including prettiest setting, best traditions, best overall stadium and most intimidating cracking the top five. Last year, the Rebels averaged 8,502 fans per game, including five contests with the attendance over 10,000, to rank second nationally. In total, 291,714 fans watched Ole Miss Baseball at Swayze Field, which was also the third-highest total attendance in the country. Both marks set season attendance records. With single-game (12,177 on opening day versus East Carolina) and series (33,070 versus East Carolina) records already broken this season, Ole Miss has averaged 8,836 per game to rank second in the nation.
Although he has only made four starts this season, redshirt-sophomore Michael Fitzsimmons has come through in clutch moments for the Rebels. The Eads, Tennessee, native is hitting .333 with runners in scoring position. As a pinch hitter, Fitzsimmons is 4-for-11 (.364) on the season, driving in the game-winning run on two of those hits. Against Furman (March 12), he came off the bench to knock in the game’s only run to help the Rebels secure the shutout victory. On March 28, Fitzsimmons was called upon in the bottom of the 10th; he ripped a single to left field to give Ole Miss a walk-off win over Little Rock. The big hit prompted teammate Nick Fortes to nickname Fitzsimmons the #PinchHitPrince on Twitter.
THE 17TH SEASON OF THE BIANCO ERA
The 2017 season is the 17th year of Ole Miss Baseball led by Mike Bianco, the program’s all-time wins leader. With 653 wins at Ole Miss over the past 16+ seasons, Bianco is the winningest and longest active coach in the Southeastern Conference. In fact, he’s the conference’s longest active coach among the sports of baseball, men’s basketball and football. He ranks seventh on the SEC’s all-time wins list after passing longtime Auburn coach Hal Baird earlier this season. Bianco is three wins away from passing former Vanderbilt coach Roy Mewbourne, who sits in sixth; Mewbourne produced 655 wins in 24 seasons.
ON THE HORIZON
After the four-game homestand, the Rebels will hit the road once again. First, Ole Miss will battle Mississippi State in the annual Governor’s Cup. The rivalry matchup will take place at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Mississippi (April 25). First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network. Following the midweek contest, the Rebels head to Arkansas to face the Razorbacks (April 27-29). The first two games of the three-game set will be nationally televised on SEC Network beginning with the Thursday night series opener at 6 p.m.