Baseball Heads West for SEC Series with No. 10 Arkansas
April 26, 2017

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The Last Meeting
#21 Arkansas7
Ole Miss8
April 10, 2016
Oxford, Miss.
No. 14 Ole Miss Completes Series Sweep of No. 21 Arkansas
On a picturesque Sunday afternoon, No. 14 Ole Miss used clutch two-out hitting to complete the series sweep over No. 21 Arkansas. Four two-out hits brought in five runs as the Rebels (25-7, 6-6 SEC) downed the Razorbacks (20-12, 4-8 SEC) 8-7.

Matchup: (RV) Ole Miss (25-16, 9-9 SEC) at #10 Arkansas (33-10, 12-6 SEC)
Dates: April 27-29
Location: Fayetteville, Ark.
Venue: Baum Stadium
Capacity: 10,737
Television: SEC Network (Thurs.,Fri.)/SECN+ (Sat.)
    Dave Neal, play-by-play
    Mike Rooney, analyst
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network
    David Kellum, play-by-play
    Keith Kessinger, analyst
Live Audio:
Series: Arkansas leads 45-40
Last Series: April 8-10, 2016
        Ole Miss won all three games
        Oxford, Miss.

- The Rebels are playing a stretch of four games against top 10 teams in five days.
- Ole Miss has won four of the past five series against Arkansas, including a three-game sweep at Swayze Field last season.
- Sophomore closer Dallas Woolfolk was named to the midseason watch list for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award.
- 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.
- Starting pitcher Ryan Rolison is the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week.
- The Rebels are 20-1 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 (2.98), strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.39), WHIP (1.14), while ranking top 10 nationally in all three categories as well as shutouts (6).

Arkansas - Blaine Knight, So., RHP, 6-2, 3.13 ERA, 54.2 IP
Ole Miss - James McArthur, So., RHP, 2-3, 3.43 ERA, 44.2 IP
- Holds the best WHIP (1.03) 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

Arkansas - Trevor Stephan, Jr., LHP, 4-2, 3.42 ERA, 50.0 IP
Ole Miss - Ryan Rolison, Fr., LHP, 5-2, 1.88 ERA, 43.0 IP
- Reigning SEC Freshman of the Week after tossing 6.0 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and recording a career-high nine strikeouts in a win over Missouri (April 22)
- Has made 15 appearances this season, including six starts
- 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)
- 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 (
- 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

Arkansas - TBA
Ole Miss - David Parkinson, Jr., LHP, 5-2, 3.09 ERA, 58.1 IP
- Earned a win over No. 8 LSU (April 14), 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
- Transferred to Ole Miss in 2016 after spending one season at Florence-Darlington Technical School

Ranked No. 10 in the country and coming off a midweek win over Kansas State, Arkansas enters the weekend with a 33-10 mark. The Razorbacks are 12-6 in conference play, only one game behind the leaders in the SEC West, and have won four of their six conference series to this point in the SEC slate. Last weekend, Arkansas dropped two-of-three from Auburn. The Razorbacks are one of the best hitting teams in the conference with an SEC-best 54 home runs, while ranking second in team batting average (.296), on base percentage (.385) and scoring (7.3 runs per game). Sophomore Jax Biggers paces the Arkansas bats with a .341 batting average and 37 runs. Hitting at a .300 clip, Grant Koch has the most extra-base hits on the team by ripping 11 doubles, one triple and nine homers. On the mound, Blaine Knight (6-2, 3.13 ERA) and Trevor Stephan (4-2, 3.42 ERA) have been the mainstays in the Arkansas rotation by starting in all 10 weekend series. Dave Van Horn is in his 15th season in charge of the Razorbacks and 29th overall as a head coach, posting 1,168 victories throughout his career.

The Rebels have won four of the past five series against Arkansas, including a three-game sweep at Swayze Field last season (April 8-10, 2016). The 2016 series was the first sweep by Ole Miss over Arkansas since 2009. During that weekend, Ole Miss averaged nearly 10 runs per game by outscoring the Razorbacks 29-19. The Rebels also recorded 39 hits over the three contests. A quartet of Rebels are hoping to have the same success as last season when facing Arkansas this week. Tate Blackman, Colby Bortles, Will Golsan and Ryan Olenek all earned at least one hit in each game, while also knocking in and scoring runs throughout the weekend. Here are the 2016 stats for these four Rebs versus Arkansas:

        Blackman: .384 batting average (5-for-13), 3 RBI, 2 runs
        Bortles: .333 batting average (4-for-12), 3 RBI, 4 runs
        Golsan: .500 batting average (5-for-10), 6 RBI, 2 runs
        Olenek: .417 batting average (5-for-12), 2 RBI, 3 runs

Ole Miss closer Dallas Woolfolk was named to the midseason watch list for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Stopper of the Year Award, the organization announced Wednesday afternoon. Woolfolk is one of 40 pitchers on the watch list for the award given annually to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I Baseball. He is the second Rebel to earn a spot on the midseason watch list in as many years. Last season, southpaw Wyatt Short made the list as the Rebels’ primary closer. With Short now in the professional ranks with the World Series champion Chicago Cubs organization, Woolfolk burst onto the scene in 2017 to become the go-to reliever at the end of games. As a freshman, Woolfolk was 1-0 with a 2.55 ERA and one save in 18 appearances (17.2 innings). Moving into his second year as a Rebel, his breakout moment occurred on opening weekend. In the series finale against No. 6 East Carolina (Feb. 19), Woolfolk entered the game in the eighth with the bases loaded and nobody out as the runner on second represented the tying run. In the toughest possible jam in baseball, he locked in by striking out three straight hitters to end the inning and keep the Pirates from scoring. He ended up coming back out for the ninth, recording two more strikeouts on his way to retiring the side and earning his first save of the season. 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 top closer. His eight saves rank second in the SEC as well as 27th nationally. Moreover, the hard-throwing righty 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.

The Rebels are no stranger to facing the nation’s best competition. Ole Miss has won 25 games against top-10 teams over the last three-plus seasons, including series victories over No. 1 Louisiana-Lafayette (2014 Super Regional), No. 1 Florida (2015), No. 1 Vanderbilt (2015), No. 2 Louisville (2016), No. 8 LSU (2016), No. 6 East Carolina (2017) and No. 8 LSU (2017).

The Rebels are 12-9 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. Last season, the Rebels also 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.

In his first Governor’s Cup Tuesday night (April 25), freshman catcher Cooper Johnson provided two big hits and made multiple plays with his gloves on his 19th birthday. The Mundelein, Illinois, native had his best night at the plate all season long, ripping a double down the left field line to go along with an RBI single. Johnson remained superb behind the dish, throwing out two baserunners attempting to steal to increase his season total to 11 (nine caught stealing, two pickoffs). In the ninth, his heads-up play helped the Rebels finish a 1-2-3 inning. After two quick outs, MSU roped a single to left field. The throw came in and got away from the cutoff man, and the Bulldog attempted to advance into scoring position. However, Johnson raced down the line to back up first base, picked up the ball and threw a dart to second to nab the runner. It was only fitting that the freshman had one of his best games of the year on his birthday.

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, and tossed 6.0 scoreless innings toearn a win over Missouri (April 22). Rolison earned the accolades after tallying 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. With another SEC victory under his belt, 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.

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.

Stats NCAA Rank SEC Rank
WHIP                1.14 5th 1st
Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio 3.39 5th 1st
Shutouts 6 9th 3rd
ERA 2.98 10th 1st
Hits/9 Innings 7.46 12th 3rd
Strikeouts/9 Innings 9.5 13th 3rd
Walks/9 Innings  2.81 17th 3rd

Junior Will Golsan has been the most consistent Ole Miss hitter this season, leading the team in hits (48) and total bases (65). The Columbus, Mississippi, native also ranks second on the team in batting average (.304), 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 41 games (40 in right field, one at first base).  

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, going 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.

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).

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 17 of the Rebels’ last 19 games. The catcher caught 12 of those games behind the plate before making the move to first base, starting at the position for five consecutive games. Since assuming the starting duties, Fortes is hitting .374 (19-for-51). Over the weekend, Fortes used two doubles to produce a career-high three RBI in the series final win versus Missouri (April 23). In 28 games this season, including 22 starts, he leads the team with a .307 batting average, including .368 in SEC play. The Deland, Florida, native has also thrown out five baserunners when catching this season.

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 as Ole Miss has tallied 11 outfield assists in 2017. Ryan Olenek leads the way with four, while Will Golsan is second with a trio of assists. Thomas Dillard has two, while 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 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.

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.

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 (35 starts), C Cooper Johnson (24 starts), SS Grae Kessinger (38 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 (13 appearances), Ryan Rolison (15 appearances) and Houston Roth (12 appearances).  

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 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 sixth on the SEC’s all-time wins list, tied with former Vanderbilt coach Roy Mewbourne; Mewbourne produced 655 wins in 24 seasons.

Next week, the Rebels will host ULM for a pair of midweek matchups at Swayze Field (May 2-3). Then, Ole Miss returns to the road for SEC play, heading south to face the nationally ranked Florida Gators in three games (May 5-7). The first four games of the week will air on SECN+, while the series finale with Florida will be a SEC Network broadcast.





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