No. 8 Ole Miss Hosts Arkansas State in Battle of Unbeaten Teams
Feb. 20, 2017

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The Last Meeting
Ole Miss6
Arkansas State8
May 17, 2016
Jonesboro, Ark.
Rebels Drop Midweek Matchup to Red Wolves, 8-6
Ferriss Trophy finalist J.B. Woodman hit his conference-leading 13th home run of the season as part of a two-hit, two-RBI night, but it was not enough as No. 6 Ole Miss fell on the road to Arkansas State, 8-6, Tuesday. The Red Wolves (25-26) tallied 17 hits to hand the Rebels (39-14) just their four non-conference loss of the 2016 season.

MIDWEEK GAME
Matchup: Ole Miss (3-0) vs. Arkansas State (4-0)
Date: Feb. 21
Location: Oxford, Miss.
Venue: Swayze Field
Capacity: 10,323
Television: SECN+
    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 71-22
Last Game: May 17, 2016
        Arkansas State won 8-6
        Jonesboro, Ark.

PROMOTIONS
» Kids Night! Kids 12 and under get in FREE
» $1 Hot Dog Night

QUICK HITS
- Ole Miss is 3-0 for the fifth time in the past seventh seasons and 10th under head coach Mike Bianco.
- The Rebels have won seven of the past eight meetings with Red Wolves.
- Ole Miss has won eight straight at Swayze Field against Arkansas State.
- The Rebels are coming off three wins over No. 6 East Carolina, their first three-game sweep of a top-10 team since April 24-25, 2010 (No. 5 LSU).
- Ole Miss leads the SEC in turning double plays with four.
- Sophomore Ryan Olenek was named SEC Player of the Week.
- A new Swayze Field three-game series attendance record was set when 33,070 watched Ole Miss sweep East Carolina on opening weekend.
- Attendance for Opening Day was 12,117 which set a single-game record for Swayze Field.
- Eleven Rebels made their debuts over the first weekend of the season.
- Head coach Mike Bianco is one win away from tying Auburn’s Hal Baird for seventh on the SEC’s all-time wins list.

PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUP
TUESDAY, 4 P.M.
Arkansas State - Bo Ritter, Jr., RHP, 0-0, 6.75 ERA, 1.1 IP
Ole Miss - Will Ethridge, Fr., RHP
NOTING ETHRIDGE:
- Rated as the No. 33 freshman prospect in the nation (D1Baseball.com)
- 2016 Louisville Slugger first team High School All-American (Collegiate Baseball)
- Among college and high school players last year, rated the No. 137 draft prospect (D1Baseball.com) and No. 176 draft prospect (MLB.com)
- Posted a 23-5 record with a 1.65 ERA, 119 strikeouts and 21 walks in 148.0 innings throughout his high school career
- Went 13-0 as a junior in high school, including a win in the Georgia 6-A State Championship game that gave the team a No. 1 national ranking to end the season
- Drafted in the 35th round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners

SCOUTING ARKANSAS STATE
Arkansas State enters the midweek matchup with a 4-0 record after sweeping the New York Institute of Technology at home to begin the season. During the four-game weekend, the Red Wolves outscored NYIT 35-12. Junior catcher Justin Felix led the way with a .455 average and nine RBI. Grant Hawkins made his way around the bases throughout the weekend, stealing five bases and scoring a team-high seven runs. On the mound, ASU will start junior Bo Ritter. The right hander made two appearances over the weekend, but only totaled 1.1 innings of work. He allowed four hits, and all four of his outs recorded were strikeouts. The Red Wolves are coached by Tommy Raffo, who is in his ninth season at ASU.

SERIES HISTORY
For the 12th consecutive season, the Rebels and Red Wolves play a home-and-home series. Along with Tuesday’s game in Oxford, the two squads will also meet at the end of the season in Jonesboro, Arkansas (May 16). Ole Miss leads the all-time series with Arkansas State 71-22, including victories in seven of the past eight matchups. When the Red Wolves come to town, the Rebels have protected their home turf by winning eight straight meetings at Swayze Field. However, the last three matchups in Oxford have all been decided by one run in favor of Ole Miss. Under head coach Mike Bianco, the Rebels are 24-9 versus Arkansas State.

MIDWEEK SUCCESS
Ole Miss went 11-3 in midweek games last season, outscoring the opposition 90-41 and averaging 6.4 runs per game. The Rebels won their first eight midweek contests of the year for the third time in program history, also accomplishing the feats in 2007 and 2010. The Rebel bullpen was especially effective during the week, allowing just 15 earned runs in 54.0 innings and boasting a 2.50 ERA.

HOW SWEEP IT IS!
As the only top-10 matchup in the country on opening weekend, the Rebels knew they had a tall task in facing No. 6 East Carolina and former Ole Miss assistant Cliff Godwin. However, behind a mix of newcomers and veterans, Ole Miss swept the Pirates in three close games. Freshmen Thomas Dillard and Cole Zabowski along with veterans Will Golsan and Ryan Olenek hit over .400 throughout the weekend to lead the Rebels at the plate. Meanwhile, the bullpen limited ECU to two runs over a combined 10.2 innings. The sweep marked the first time the Rebels defeated a top-10 opponent in three straight games since April 24-25, 2010 versus No. 5 LSU.

ATTENDANCE RECORDS
With the combination of the No. 1 recruiting class, returning veterans and a top-10 team coming to town, the start of the 2017 season was highly anticipated by Rebel Nation. The Ole Miss faithful came out in record numbers throughout the weekend, starting with Opening Day. A single-game Swayze Field record of 12,117 watched Ole Miss knock off No. 6 East Carolina 5-4 in game one. The following day, 11,494 fans saw the Rebels clinch the series with another one-run win; that crowd was the third-highest in Swayze Field history. Closing out the weekend, Ole Miss brought out the brooms for an 8-6 victory in front of 9,459. The three-day total of 33,070 set another Swayze Field record for attendance during a series, breaking the previous mark of 29,646 for the 2009 NCAA Super Regional.

RALLY REBELS
The Rebels showed resilience throughout opening weekend, rallying from behind in all three games versus No. 6 East Carolina. Three times after the Pirates plated runs in the top half of an inning, Ole Miss immediately responded by scoring in the bottom half of the frame. In the season opener, a leadoff home run put ECU on the board first, but the Rebels responded with a run of their own. Three innings later, the Pirates scored two runs to take a 3-2 lead before Ole Miss countered with a pair of runs to regain a 4-3 advantage. Trailing 2-0 in game two, the Rebels got out of a bases-loaded game with a groundball double play before scoring three runs over the next two innings to claim the one-run victory. In the series finale, ECU plated four runs in the top of the sixth to take a commanding 6-2 lead; however, Ole Miss answered with a big five-run inning to flip the script to 7-6. The Rebels added an insurance run to win 8-6 and capture the sweep.

OLENEK NAMED SEC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
After helping lead the Ole Miss baseball team to a sweep over No. 6 East Carolina to begin the 2017 season, sophomore center fielder Ryan Olenek was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week. Hitting .462 throughout the weekend, Olenek earned a weekly award for the first time in his young Rebel career. Olenek spent most of his freshman season as the Rebels’ starting right fielder, but he was called upon to move to center field this year following All-American J.B. Woodman getting selected in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft. He also moved to the top of the order on opening weekend. However, filling the shoes of an All-American and becoming more of a prominent piece of the lineup did not faze Olenek. Starting all three games in center field, Olenek went 6-for-13 with two doubles over the weekend, recording at least one hit in each game. Batting second in the season opener, he ripped a double down the first base line for the Rebels’ first hit of the season before coming around to score the first run of the 2017 campaign as well. The Winter Springs, Florida, native went 3-for-4 with a double to lead the team in a 5-4 victory. Batting in the leadoff spot for the first time in his career, Olenek put together another multi-hit game and plated one run in Saturday’s 3-2 win. Wrapping up the weekend, the Rebels trailed by four in the middle of the sixth of Sunday’s season finale. Ole Miss bounced back in the bottom half of the frame, and Olenek placed the cherry on top of a five-run inning. The sophomore smacked the game-winning two-run double that gave the Rebels the lead for good to complete the sweep.

OLE MISS DEBUTS
Eleven Rebels made their debuts over the weekend: IF Bryce Blaum (pinch runner, Feb. 18), IF Chase Cockrell, (designated hitter, Feb. 17), OF Thomas Dillard (left field, Feb. 17), RHP Greer Holston (relief pitcher, Feb. 19), C Cooper Johnson (catcher, Feb. 17), IF Grae Kessinger (shortstop, Feb. 17), C Carson Klepzig (pinch runner, Feb. 19), LHP Ryan Rolison (relief pitcher, Feb. 19), OF Tim Rowe (pinch hitter, Feb. 19), OF Bryan Seamster (pinch runner, Feb. 17) and IF Cole Zabowski (first base, Feb. 17). Five newcomers earned starts on Opening Day: Cockrell, Dillard, Johnson, Kessinger and Zabowski.  

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 634 wins at Ole Miss over the past 16+ seasons, Bianco is the winningest and longest active coach in the Southeastern Conference. He ranks eighth on the SEC’s all-time wins list and is just one victory away for tying longtime Auburn coach Hal Baird for seventh. Bianco is also on pace to leapfrog former Vanderbilt coach Roy Mewbourne, who sits in sixth, this season; Mewbourne produced 655 wins in 24 seasons.

SEASON-OPENING SUCCESS
Ole Miss has enjoyed success in season-opening games under head coach Mike Bianco, posting a 16-1 record in games to open the season. The Rebels’ lone loss on opening day came at the hands of ULM to start the 2010 campaign when Ole Miss fell 6-5 to the Warhawks in Oxford.

CLAIMING THE FIRST SERIES
The Rebels have fared well in season-opening weekends under Bianco with the Rebels claiming series wins in 13 of the 17 seasons, including this past weekend versus No. 6 ECU. The Rebels did not play a weekend series to open the 2005, 2007 or 2009 seasons. Those years, the Rebels either opened the year with midweek games or played at a weekend tournament with multiple-teams. The Rebels also had a game rained out in the season-opening weekend of 2012 and split the two games played at TCU to start the year. Ole Miss has won its last seven games on the first weekend of the season.

ON THE HORIZON
Following the midweek game against Arkansas State, the homestand continues with a tough non-conference weekend series as the Rebels battle UNCW, an NCAA Regional qualifier and defending champion of the Colonial Athletic Association (Feb. 24-26). All four games will be broadcast on SECN+ with Will Kollmeyer and former Rebel/World Series champion David Dellucci on the call.

 

 

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