March 20, 2017
The Last Meeting
February 28, 2017
Date: March 21
Location: Memphis, Tenn.
Venue: AutoZone Park
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network
Eli Savoie, play-by-play
Keith Kessinger, analyst
Live Audio: OleMissSports.com
Series: Ole Miss leads 93-53
Last Game: Feb. 28, 2017
Memphis won 9-6
- Ole Miss is coming off a victorious series over No. 15 Vanderbilt, taking two of three on the opening weekend of SEC play.
- The Rebels have won seven of their past nine games, winning six of those contests with shutouts.
- Ole Miss begins a four-game road trip this week, playing all four games in a five-day span.
- The Rebels are looking to avenge a 9-6 loss to Memphis earlier this year at Swayze Field (Feb. 28).
- AutoZone Park is one of four professional baseball ballparks that the Rebels have or will play in this season; AutoZone Park is home to the Memphis Redbirds, Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.
- Sophomore Dallas Woolfolk leads the SEC with five saves, ranking 15th nationally.
- Ole Miss pitching leads the SEC in fewest earned runs allowed (55), fewest hits allowed (122), opponent batting average (.190), saves (9), fewest hits allowed per nine innings (6.07), strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.17), strikeouts per nine innings (11.0), fewest walks issued per nine innings (2.64) and WHIP (0.97).
- The Rebels rank top five nationally in five different pitching categories: fewest hits allowed per nine innings, shutouts, strikeout-to-walk ratio, strikeouts per nine innings and WHIP.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUP
TUESDAY, 6:30 P.M.
Memphis - Jonathan Bowlan, So., RHP, 2-2, 6.10 ERA, 20.2 IP
Ole Miss - Sean Johnson, R-Sr., RHP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.0 IP
- Pitched one scoreless inning versus Nicholls last week (March 14), retiring the side in his 2017 debut
- Missed the start of the season due to a broken hand
- One of only two seniors on the team
- Made nine starts on the mound in 2016, going 3-1 with a 4.96 ERA; started the season as the No. 3 pitcher in the weekend rotation
- Underwent Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss nearly the entire 2015 season
- Transferred to Ole Miss after leading Iowa Western C.C. to a national championship in 2014
- At 6’7”, tied with James McArthur as the tallest Rebel
The Tigers are 12-7 following victories in three of their four games last week. Memphis defeated Mississippi Valley in a midweek contest before taking two of three from Missouri State on the road. Ole Miss is the middle matchup of three straight midweek affairs for Memphis battling Mississippi schools; the Tigers will host Mississippi State next week at AutoZone Park. Andy Bowman is the team’s leading hitter, posting a .333 average at the plate. Alec Trela, a freshman, provides some pop with seven doubles as well as team highs in home runs (3) and RBI (16). On the mound, Memphis plans to start sophomore Jonathan Bowlan, who allowed two runs on three hits in 1.0 inning against the Rebels earlier this year. Bowlan has made six relief appearances and one start, posting a 2-2 record with a 6.10 ERA. Daron Schoenrock is in his 15th season at the helm of the program.
The Rebels and Tigers will meet for the second time this season, and Ole Miss will be looking to avenge its first loss of the season. The Rebels saw their unbeaten start to the season (seven games) come to an end as Memphis claimed a 9-6 win at Swayze Field (Feb. 28). In the midweek contest, Ole Miss could not overcome four errors that led to five runs for the Tigers. Ole Miss and Memphis scattered nine hits apiece throughout the contest, including a game-high three by junior second baseman Tate Blackman. Freshman Grae Kessinger added his first home run of his Rebel career with a three-run shot in the second inning, while junior Kyle Watson went 2-for-4 in a multi-hit performance. With Will Ethridge a late scratch as the probable starter due to the flu, fellow freshman Greer Holston was called upon to make his first career start. Holston pitched four innings on short notice and struck out four Tigers looking. Two other freshmen pitched in the contest as Houston Roth tossed 2.2 scoreless innings of relief, and Oxford native Jason Barber made his debut in the ninth.
A TIGHT SERIES
Separated by just 70 miles, Ole Miss and Memphis have played a home-and-home series in each of the past seven 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. However, the Rebels won both games last year, first winning a 9-7 contest at Swayze Field (March 2, 2016) before shutting out the Tigers 7-0 at AutoZone Park (April 19, 2016). Overall, Ole Miss has dominated the all-time series; the two teams have met on the diamond 146 times with the Rebels holding a 93-53 advantage. Mike Bianco is 23-10 against Memphis in 16+ years as the Rebels’ head coach.
PLAYING IN PRO PARKS
AutoZone Park, home of the St. Louis Cardinals Triple-A affiliate Memphis Redbirds, will be the third of four professional ballparks that the Rebels will play at this season. Ole Miss competed in the prestigious Shriners Hospitals of Children Classic at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros (March 3-5). Last week, Ole Miss traveled to the Mississippi Coast for the first time in 2016 years; the Rebels faced Nicholls at MGM Park, home of the Biloxi Shuckers. Ole Miss will also continue its annual tradition of traveling to Pearl, Mississippi for a pair of games at Trustmark Park. At the home of the Mississippi Braves, the Rebels will face Southern Miss (April 4) and Mississippi State (April 25).
LAST TIME AT AUTOZONE
The Rebels enjoyed their last trip to AutoZone Park (April 19, 2016). Three home runs combined with a masterful performance by James McArthur led Ole Miss to a 7-0 victory over Memphis. McArthur pitched a career-high seven scoreless innings, while the Rebel bats did the rest to earn the midweek victory. Will Golsan and Michael Fitzsimmons hit back-to-back homers as part of a four-run sixth inning, while Colby Bortles left the yard in the eighth inning. McArthur tied his then-career high with seven strikeouts to earn his fifth victory in his last six starts. The freshman allowed just four hits and two walks during the career-long outing of seven scoreless frames. The combination of McArthur and Brady Feigl gave Ole Miss the shutout.
JUCO TRANSFERS CLUTCH IN SEC DEBUTS
Two Rebels made the SEC debuts in style, recording the game-winning hit in their first plate appearance of conference play. On Friday night, junior college transfer Tim Rowe smacked a pinch-hit single for the games only run in the win over No. 15 Vanderbilt. Two days, another JUCO transfer made his mark in his first SEC game. Coming off the bench initially as a defensive replacement, Chase Cockrell roped a double down the line that score the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth. The two clutch hits helped Ole Miss win the first conference series of the season.
IT ALL STARTS WITH PITCHING
Beginning with a midweek game against Georgia State (March 7), Ole Miss starting pitching went the next seven games without allowing a run. Until Vanderbilt scored a run in the top of the fourth during game two (March 18), Rebel starters combined to pitch 52.2 scoreless innings. During the streak, 69 strikeouts were recorded while only 28 hits and 19 walks were allowed. The impressive stretch helped the entire Ole Miss staff pitch six shutouts, including a school-record five in a row.
For the first time in program history, Ole Miss posted shutouts in five straight games. To begin the streak, the Rebels held Furman, a team with a combined batting average of .317, scoreless for the entire weekend to earn their third three-game sweep of the 2017 season. Keeping the Paladins without a run (March 10-12), the Rebels posted a three-game series shutout for the first time since March 12-14, 2004, coincidentally vs. Nicholls. Continuing the streak, Ole Miss shut out Nicholls 5-0 (March 14) in Biloxi, Mississippi. Coming back to Swayze Field and kicking off SEC play, the Rebels took down No. 15 Vanderbilt 1-0 (March 17). Before the Commodres broke the streak during the second game of the series, Ole Miss pitched tossed 48.2 consecutive scoreless frames, surrendering just 16 hits and issuing 14 walks. Meanwhile, the Rebels added 53 strikeouts and held opposing hitters to a .104 batting average.
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.
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: Thomas Dillard
(LF/DH), Cooper Johnson
(C), Grae Kessinger
(SS) and Cole Zabowski
(1B). TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE
Last year, Ole Miss had the luxury of having two closers in lefty Wyatt Short and right-hander Will Stokes
. The duo combined for 18 saves in 2016 with Short in the primary role, closing 11 games. After drafted by the Chicago Cubs, Short took his talents to the professional level, and it appeared as if Stokes would become the lone closer on the staff in 2017. However, another Rebel has emerged to join Stokes in the back end of the bullpen. Sophomore Dallas Woolfolk
, who’s fastball ranges from 93-95 mph, has become another pitcher that Ole Miss can rely on as a closer. The Southaven, Mississippi, native holds a 1.23 ERA over a team-high nine appearances. Along with tallying 19 strikeouts and issuing only two walks, Woolfolk boasts five saves to lead the SEC and rank 15th nationally. Stokes adds four saves to the Ole Miss total of nine, which paces the conference. GOLSAN LEADS THE WAY
Junior Will Golsan
has been the most consistent Ole Miss hitter this season, leading the team in hits (23), runs (14), doubles (5) and total bases (31). He’s shown his versatility in the field as well, starting in his third different position in as many seasons. Golsan won the starting nod at second base following the beginning of his freshman season before moving to first base last year. This season, Golsan has found his home in right field to better showcase his athleticism. He is the only Rebel to start all 20 games. 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 644 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 also on pace to leapfrog former Vanderbilt coach Roy Mewbourne, who sits in sixth, this season; Mewbourne produced 655 wins in 24 seasons. ON THE HORIZON
After the midweek matchup with Memphis, Ole Miss travels further north to battle Kentucky in the first road conference series of the season. The three-game set begins Thursday night (March 23) at 6 p.m. on SEC Network. Game two of the series will take place at 5:30 p.m. Friday evening (March 24) before the two teams wrap up the weekend Saturday morning (March 25) at 11 a.m. on SEC Network.