Ole Miss Battles No. 7 MSU in Governor's Cup
April 24, 2017


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GOVERNOR’S CUP
Date:
April 25
Location: Pearl, Miss.
Venue: Trustmark Park
Capacity: 8,480
Television: SEC Network
     Dari Nowkhah, play-by-play
     Ben McDonald, analyst
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network
     David Kellum, play-by-play
     Keith Kessinger, analyst
Live Audio: OleMissSports.com
Series: MSU leads 19-18
Last Governor’s Cup: April 26, 2016
     MSU won 2-0 Pearl, Miss.

The Last Meeting
Mississippi State2
Ole Miss1
April 1, 2017
Oxford, Miss.
Baseball’s Ninth-Inning Rally Falls Short
No. 19 Ole Miss loaded the bases in the ninth inning, but a potential game-winning hit down the right field line was robbed by first baseman Brent Rooker to help Mississippi State hang on for a 2-1 win Saturday afternoon at Swayze Field.

QUICK HITS
- This is the 38th meeting in the neutral site rivalry series known as the Governor’s Cup, formerly the Mayor’s Trophy game.
- Last season, a Governor’s Cup record crowd 8,532 watched the game at Trustmark Park.
- With 655 wins at Ole Miss, head coach Mike Bianco is tied with former Vanderbilt coach Roy Mewbourne for sixth on the SEC all-time wins list.
- The Rebels have won three of their last four games at Trustmark Park, dating back to an 11-1 win in the 2015 Governor’s Cup.
- Ole Miss projected starter, freshman Greer Holston, celebrated his 19th birthday on Monday.
- Colby Bortles and Ryan Olenek are both riding six-game hitting streaks.
- Bortles and Will Golsan both hit .457 over the last week to lead the Rebels to a 3-1 mark.
- The Rebels are 20-1 when scoring at least four runs.
- The Rebels rank top 10 nationally in four different pitching categories: ERA (10th), shutouts (9th), strikeout-to-walk ratio (5th) and WHIP (5th).
- Ole Miss pitching also leads the SEC in ERA (2.96), hits allowed per nine innings (7.4), shutouts (6), strikeouts per nine innings (9.6), strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.35), WHIP (1.14), and walks allowed per nine innings (2.86).

PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUP
TUESDAY, 6:30 P.M.
Mississippi State - TBA
Ole Miss - Greer Holston, Fr., RHP, 2-2, 3.20 ERA, 39.1 IP NOTING HOLSTON:
- Has made 12 appearances, including six starts
- Celebrated his 19th birthday on Monday
- Won each of his past two starts, including last week versus UAPB (April 19)
- Earned his first career victory with 6.0 scoreless innings against No. 16 Southern Miss (April 11)
- Pitched 5.1 scoreless innings versus Little Rock (March 28)
- Against Furman (March 10), pitched a career-long 7.0 scoreless innings and allowed only two hits to go along with a career-high six strikeouts
- Out of high school, named the best right-handed pitcher in the state of Mississippi by Perfect Game - Attended IMG Academy as a senior, going 6-2 with a 1.02 ERA and hitting .360 at the plate
- Named 2015 4A Player of the Year in Mississippi after leading Saint Stanislaus to a state champion- ship and posting a 12-1 record with 99 strikeouts as well as a 0.91 ERA over 72.0 innings

SCOUTING MSU
Mississippi State enters the rivalry contest at 28-14 after sweeping Alabama over the weekend. The Bulldogs have been one of the hottest teams in the SEC as of late, winning 16 of their last 20 games. Brent Rooker has been on fire throughout the entire season, leading the SEC in batting average (.400), doubles (20), home runs (16), RBI (58), steals (16), slugging percentage (.877) and on base per- centage (.505). Sophomore Jake Mangum, who won the league’s batting title as a freshman, is right behind Rooker with a .347 average at the dish. On the mound, MSU holds a 4.46 ERA as a staff; that mark ranks 13th in the SEC. However, the Bulldogs are second in the conference with 395 strikeouts. Andy Cannizaro enters his first season as Mississippi State’s head coach after John Cohen took over as the school’s athletic director. Before becoming the MSU head coach, Cannizaro served two seasons as the hitting coach at LSU. Joining Cannizaro on staff is another familiar face in the SEC coaching ranks. Gary Henderson, the head coach at Kentucky for the past eight years, joined MSU this season and coaches the pitching staff.

GOVERNOR’S CUP
Aside from their conference series, Ole Miss and Mississippi State have played in a neutral-site rivalry game each season since 1980. The series began as the Mayor’s Trophy game, but was changed to the Governor’s Cup in 2007. Started in 1980 by then Jackson Mayor Dale Danks Jr., the Mayor’s Trophy/Governor’s Cup game has been one of the most anticipated matchups of the college baseball season. Beginning in the 2007 season, the non-conference meeting between the two teams moved to Trustmark Park in Pearl, Mississippi, and began anew as the two teams now compete for the Governor’s Cup. Throughout the history of the annual midweek rivalry game, the two in-state foes have alternated being the home team at the neutral site venue. This season, Ole Miss will serve as the home team at Trustmark Park. MSU holds a slight lead in the rivalry matchup, 19-18.

THE YEARLY GAUNTLET
The Rebels are 12-8 versus ranked teams in 2017, which includes sweeps of both No. 6 East Carolina and No. 23 UNCW in three-game series at Swayze Field as well as a two-game season sweep of No. 16 Southern Miss. Ole Miss also won a series over No. 15 Vanderbilt to start SEC play, while taking one game from both No. 8 LSU and No. 19 Kentucky. Eleven victories against ranked opponents are tied with Florida and Kentucky for the most in the SEC. Last season, the Rebels won 12 games against ranked teams which included series victories over No. 2 Louisville, No. 8 LSU and No. 21 Arkansas. Ole Miss also topped No. 2 Texas A&M, No. 4 South Carolina, No. 5 Mississippi State and No. 18 Coastal Carolina, which went on to win the national championship, in games last year. In 2015, the Rebels made the NCAA Tournament after having the nation’s No. 1 strength of schedule.

PLAYING IN PRO PARKS
Trustmark Park, home of the Atlanta Braves Double-A affiliate Atlanta Braves, is the fourth professional ballpark that the Rebels will play in 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). Then, Ole Miss trav- eled to the Mississippi Coast for the first time in 106 years, facing Nicholls at MGM Park, home of the Biloxi Shuckers. The Rebels also traveled north to Memphis to play the Tigers at AutoZone Park, home of the Memphis Redbirds. Ole Miss already played once at Trustmark Park this year, taking down No. 17 Southern Miss 6-5 in 12 innings (April 4).

RECENT SUCCESS AT TRUSTMARK
Ole Miss has won three of its past four games at Trustmark Park, dating back to an 11-1 over Missis- sippi State in the 2015 Governor’s Cup. Last year, the Rebels split their two games at the ballpark by downing Southern Miss 6-2 before falling to MSU 2-0 in the 2016 Governor’s Cup. Earlier this season, Ole Miss rallied from four runs down to force extra innings against Southern Miss. After scoring on a passed ball in the bottom of the ninth, the Rebels plated the game-winning run in the 12th due to a wild pitch on an intentional walk attempt.

ROLISON EARNS SEC FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK
Following the best start of his career, Ole Miss baseball’s Ryan Rolison was named SEC Freshman of the Week, the league office announced Monday afternoon. Rolison was bumped up one day due to a scratch in the rotation, called upon on the day of the game, to toss 6.0 scoreless innings and earn a win over Missouri on April 22. Rolison earned the accolades after tossing a career-high nine strikeouts, retiring 14 of the final 16 hitters he faced. He took a no-hit bid to the fifth inning, before Mizzou broke it up with one out. After tossing his seventh start, Rolison improved to 5-2 on the season. After leading Ole Miss to a 3-1 victory over the Tigers, Rolison lowered his ERA to 1.88, best among all pitchers in the rotation and fifth among SEC pitchers.

GOLSAN LEADS THE WAY
Junior Will Golsan has been the most consistent Ole Miss hitter this season, leading the team in hits (46), batting average (.301) and total bases (63). The Columbus, Mississippi, native also ranks sec- ond on the team in runs (29) and doubles (8). Last week, Golsan hit at a .457 clip and scored eight runs over four games. Throughout his career, 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 40 games (39 in right field, one at first base).

BIG WEEK FOR BORTLES
Senior Colby Bortles had a solid four-game stretch last week, hitting .467 with a team-high nine RBI. In the midweek win over UAPB, the team captain reached base all four times he stepped to the plate, go- ing 3-for-3 with two runs and three RBI. Moving to the weekend, the Oviedo, Florida, native recorded at least one hit in all three games versus Missouri, including a 2-for-4 night in the series opener. Bortles smacked the winning hit in game two of the series, a two-out two-RBI single in the bottom of the fifth. Closing out his week on a strong note, he hit his team-leading sixth home run of the season, a three- run blast, in the series finale victory over the Tigers.

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 20-1 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).

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 16 of the Rebels’ last 18 games. The catcher caught 12 of those games behind the plate before making the move to first base, starting at the position for all four games last week. Since assuming the starting duties, Fortes is hitting .360 (18-for-50). Over the weekend, Fortes used two doubles to produce a career-high three RBI in the series final win versus Missouri (April 23). In 27 games this season, including 21 starts, he leads the team with a .301 batting average, including .368 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 14 doubles to go along with a .287 batting aver- age. Olenek has also produced four three-hit games to pace the Ole Miss bats, while also going 8-for- 10 in stolen bases. Over the last 14 games, Olenek is hitting .320 (16-for-50) with nine doubles. He’s currently riding a six-game hitting streak.

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.

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 10 outfield assists in 2017. Ryan Olenek leads the way with four, while Will Golsan is second with a trio of assists. Thomas Dillard, Bryan Seamster and Kyle Watson each have one outfield assist to their credit.

YOUTH MOVEMENT
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 38 percent by freshmen only. Offensively, the underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) have taken 56 percent of the team’s at-bats with a freshman stepping up to the plate 30 percent of the time.

WOOLFOLK UNTOUCHABLE
Sophomore Dallas Woolfolk, whose fastball ranges from 94-97 mph, has been nearly unhittable this season. The Southaven, Mississippi, native holds a 1.26 ERA over a team-high 20 appearances. Along with tallying 33 strikeouts and issuing only three walks, Woolfolk is 3-1 and boasts eight 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 28.2 innings, Woolfolk is holding opposing hitters to a team-best .152 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 110-1 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 22-0 mark when ahead through eight innings of play.

THE FRESHMEN
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 Thomas Dillard (34 starts), C Cooper Johnson (23 starts), SS Grae Kessinger (37 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 (13 appearances), Greer Holston (12 appearances), Ryan Rolison (15 appearances) and Houston Roth (12 appearances).

PINCH-HIT PRINCE
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 run- ners 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 #Pinch- HitPrince 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 655 wins at Ole Miss over the past 16+ seasons, Bianco is the winningest and lon- gest 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 sixth on the SEC’s all-time wins list, tied with former Vanderbilt coach Roy Mewbourne; Mewbourne produced 655 wins in 24 seasons.


 

 

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