Rebels Hit the Road for First Time This Weekend

Photo by Angie Ledbetter, Rebel Nation Magazine™

Ole Miss Pitcher Wyatt Short / Photo by Angie Ledbetter, Rebel Nation Magazine™

Ole Miss Baseball will Face Three Teams in the Chanticleer Classic, March 4-6

CHANTICLEER CLASSIC
Teams: No. 13 Ole Miss (7-1), No. 18 Coastal Carolina (5-3), Ball State (3-5), Cincinnati (0-7)
Dates: March 4-6, 2016
Location: Conway, S.C.
Venue: Springs Brooks Stadium
Capacity: 2,500
Television: None
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network
Eli Savoie, play-by-play
Keith Kessinger, analyst
Live Audio: OleMissSports.com
Series vs. Ball State: First Meeting
Series vs. Coastal Carolina: First Meeting
Series vs. Cincinnati: First Meeting

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (All Times CT)
Friday, March 4
Ole Miss vs. Ball State        11 a.m.
Coastal Carolina vs. Cincinnati     3 p.m.

Saturday, March 5
Cincinnati vs. Ball State        10 a.m.
Ole Miss vs. Coastal Carolina    2 p.m.
Cincinnati vs. Ball State        6 p.m.

Sunday, March 6
Ole Miss vs. Cincinnati        10 a.m.
Coastal Carolina vs. Ball State    2 p.m.

QUICK HITS
– Ole Miss hits the road for the first time this season after going 7-1 in its eight-game homestand.
– The Rebels rallied from six runs down to defeat Memphis 9-7 on Wednesday.
– Ole Miss has never faced any of the teams participating in the Chanticleer Classic.
– The Chanticleer Classic is the first regular season tournament Ole Miss has played in since 2009.
– Ole Miss is ranked as high as No. 13 in the national polls, its highest ranking since making the 2014 College World Series.
– The Rebels are facing a 2015 NCAA Tournament team for the third straight weekend.
– Ole Miss has scored at least seven runs in one inning twice this season (9, 1st inning vs. FIU, 2/21/2016; 7, 3rd inning vs. Memphis, 3/2/2016).
– The Ole Miss bullpen holds a combined ERA of 1.96.
– 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.

PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
FRIDAY, 11 A.M.
Ball State – Kevin Marnon Sr., LHP, 1-1, 2.13 ERA
Ole Miss – Brady Bramlett, R-Jr., RHP, 2-0, 2.70 ERA
NOTING BRAMLETT:
– Struck out eight in a victory over No. 2 Louisville; has recorded 8+ strikeouts six times in his career
– Pitched five scoreless innings to earn the opening day victory over FIU
– Retired the first 11 batters he faced and ended his outing surrendering just one hit and recording six strikeouts versus the Panthers
– Made all 15 starts last season after missing all of 2014 due to injury
– Serves as the vice-chair of the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC)
– Sings in the university choir and serves as the president of Ole Miss SAAC

SATURDAY, 2 P.M.
Coastal Carolina – Tyler Poole Sr., RHP, 2-0, 0.84 ERA
Ole Miss – Chad Smith, Jr., RHP, 0-1, 4.22 ERA
NOTING SMITH:
– Tossed 7.0+ innings and allowed two earned runs versus No. 2 Louisville
– Pitched 3.2 innings in his Ole Miss debut, allowing three runs on four hits
– Selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 23rd round of the 2015 MLB Draft
– Named one of the top 150 MLB Draft prospects by Perfect Game
– Junior college transfer from Wallace State C.C.
– Struck out 42 over 35.0 innings as a sophomore at Wallace State
– Grandson of Norm Zauchin, who played for the Boston Red Sox

SUNDAY, 10 A.M.
Cincinnati – TBA
Ole Miss – Sean Johnson, R-Jr., RHP, 2-0, 3.48 ERA
NOTING JOHNSON:
– Limited No. 2 Louisville to two runs over 5.1 innings to help the Rebels claim the series
– Earned a victory versus FIU, tossing 5.0 innings in his first start as a Rebel
– Coming off Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss nearly the entire 2015 season
– Named to the 2015 SEC Spring Academic Honor Roll
– In 2014, went 10-1 with 88 strikeouts and 16 walks over 75.0 innings to lead Iowa Western Community College to a national championship
– Played hockey growing up

SCOUTING BALL STATE
Ole Miss begins the Chanticleer Classic with a matchup against the Ball State Cardinals, who enter the tournament with a 3-5 record. The Cardinals have been in two tournaments thus far, playing four games each weekend. Caleb Stayton and Alex Call pace BSU at the dish, hitting .406 and .379, respectively. Squaring off against the Rebels to open the tournament, BSU plans to give the ball to senior southpaw Kevin Marnon, who is 1-1 with a 2.13 ERA. Rich Maloney enters his 21st season as a head coach, including his 11th leading the Cardinals.

REPORT ON COASTAL CAROLINA
Coastal Carolina is the third 2015 NCAA Tournament team that Ole Miss will face this season (FIU, Louisville). The Chanticleers are hosting their third tournament of four to begin the 2016 campaign. CCU is hitting .328 as a team with seven players boasting at least a .300 average. Anthony Marks leads the way at .448, followed closely by G.K. Young (.438). Young is the team leader in hits (14), runs (8) and RBI (13). On the mound, Coastal Carolina will send out Tyler Poole against Ole Miss. In two starts, Poole is 2-0 with 11 strikeouts and the lowest ERA on the team at 0.84. With over 1,000 wins for his career and nearing the 800-win plateau at Coastal Carolina, Gary Gilmore is in his 27th season as head coach.

BREAKING DOWN THE BEARCATS
Cincinnati enters the weekend in search of its first win. Ole Miss will be the second team the Bearcats have faced this season; UC opened the 2016 campaign at LSU and nearly knocked off the Tigers in the season opener before falling in extra innings. Manny Rodriguez’s .259 average is a team best, while Conner McVey provides speed on the base path with a perfect 4-for-4 in steals. Head coach for the Bearcats is Ty Neal, who is in his third season at the helm of the program.

FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING
Throughout its storied history, Ole Miss has played a wide variety of schools. However, all three teams in the Chanticleer Classic are new opponents for the Rebels. Ole Miss has never faced the Mid-American Conference’s Ball State Cardinals, the Big South’s Coastal Carolina Chanticleers or the American Athletic Conference’s Cincinnati Bearcats.

SEVEN-RUN INNING PROPELS OLE MISS PAST MEMPHIS
The No. 13-ranked Ole Miss baseball team rallied from a six-run deficit to score nine unanswered runs and knock off rival Memphis Wednesday afternoon at Swayze Field. The Rebels plated seven in the third inning to help secure the victory after previously trailing 6-0. At the plate, Ole Miss took advantage when the bases were loaded, plating five runs with the bags full of Rebels. Junior J.B. Woodman led the way, going 2-for-3 with three RBI. Freshman catcher Nick Fortes went 1-for-3 with two runs scored in his first start behind the plate as a Rebel. Fortes showed off his arm strength by throwing down to catch the first runner who tried to steal on him. For the second time this season, freshman Andy Pagnozzi (2-0) pitched effectively out of the bullpen to earn the victory. Pagnozzi had a great afternoon on the mound, tossing 3.2 innings with only two hits and one run allowed.

BRINGING THE RELIEF
The Ole Miss bullpen has been a reliable force throughout the start of the 2016 campaign. As a group, the staff boasts a 3-0 record to go along with four saves and a combined 1.96 ERA in relief appearances. Four Rebel relievers have a 0.00 ERA, including closer Wyatt Short, who leads the SEC with three saves on the season. Freshman Andy Pagnozzi is 2-0 out of the bullpen with a 2.00 ERA, the only Ole Miss reliever earning more than one victory at this point. On Wednesday, the bullpen surrendered just two runs in 6.2 innings, allowing the Rebels to overcome a six-run deficit and take down Memphis.

OLE MISS IN THE POLLS
Heading into the season, Ole Miss was only ranked in one top-25 poll. However, starting the season 7-1 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.

CLUTCH HITTING
A major factor to the Rebels’ 7-1 start can be credited to clutch hitting. With a runner on third and less than two outs, Ole Miss has knocked the runner in 23 out of 28 chances (.821). The Rebels are hitting at a .344 clip with runners in scoring position and post a .625 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-7 (.571) with runners in scoring position, while Woodman is hitting .600 with a team-high six hits in that category.

TOURNEY TIME
As a participant in the 2016 Chanticleer Classic, the Rebels are playing in their first regular season tournament since 2009 (Coca Cola Classic – Mobile, Ala.). Under head coach Mike Bianco, Ole Miss has played in five tournaments. The Rebels hosted the Ole Miss Invitational in Bianco’s first season, before hitting the road for the other regular season tournaments.
Ole Miss in Regular Season Tournaments (Bianco Era)
2001 – Ole Miss Invitational (Oxford, Miss.)
2003 – Crowne Plaza/Rice Invitational (Houston, Texas)
2005 – Coca Cola Classic (Houston Texas)
2007 – Dairy Queen Classic (Minneapolis, Minn.)
2009 – Coca Cola Classic (Mobile, Ala.)

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.

STRIKING FIRST
Ole Miss wastes 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.

BLACKMAN’S BAT
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 one hit in seven-of-eight games, and he has also produced four multi-hit performances. Blackman leads the Rebels in batting average (.440), hits (11), runs (9), doubles (2), slugging percentage (.640) and on-base percentage (.517).

BRAMLETT DOES IT ALL
Not only is redshirt-junior Brady Bramlett the Rebels’ opening day starter, he also makes a major impact off the field. In January, Bramlett traveled to San Antonio, Texas to represent the Southeastern Conference at the NCAA Convention. He was one of three student-athletes from the SEC who voted on proposed governance rule changes under the NCAA’s Division I autonomy process. This was not the first time Bramlett was a voice for his fellow student-athletes. The Bartlett, Tennessee native represents the SEC and serves as the Vice-Chair of the NCAA National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and is a representative on the NCAA Strategic Vision and Planning Committee, a subcommittee of the NCAA Division I Council. He is also a representative on the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee. Bramlett’s busy schedule off the field includes serving as president of the Ole Miss SAAC, singing in the university choir and working towards his degree as a biological science major.

REBELS’ ALL-TIME SAVES LEADER NAMED DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Former Rebel Brett Huber has been named as a director of operations for the Ole Miss baseball program, head coach Mike Bianco announced, March 2. An Ole Miss pitcher from 2010-13, Huber joins Jake Scott as one of two directors of operations for the Rebels. As a four-year letterman for the Diamond Rebels, Huber collected 38 saves throughout his career, an Ole Miss record. He recorded 12 saves during his freshman campaign to earn second team All-SEC accolades. The right-hander combined for 14 saves during his sophomore and junior seasons before adding 12 more as a senior. In his final year at Ole Miss, Huber struck out 26 batters and held opponents to a .181 batting average against with a 1.54 ERA. Drafted in the 31st round of the 2013 MLB Draft, Huber spent a year in the Detroit Tigers minor league system. Not only was Huber a Pro Reb on the field, but he also donated his time off the field as an active member of the Detroit Tigers Community Commitment program. Huber returns to Oxford after working two years as a pitching coordinator and office administrator for the St. Louis Pirates baseball club, mentoring kids who wish to play college baseball following high school.

ON DECK
Following a weekend at the Chanticleer Classic, Ole Miss returns to the friendly confines of Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field for five homes games in a six-day span. First, the Rebels host Southeast Missouri for a pair of midweek games, March 8-9. Grambling State will be in Oxford for the weekend, battling the Rebels for three games, March 11-13. The weekend against the Tigers will be the Rebels’ final non-conference series before Southeastern Conference play begins the following week at Tennessee.

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