No. 5 Baseball Hosts LSU for Key SEC West Series

THURSDAY - 7 p.m. CT FRIDAY - 6:30 p.m. SATURDAY - 3 p.m. CT
PROJECTED STARTERS
Ole Miss: LHP Ryan Rolison 
5-3, 3.19 ERA, 59.1 IP
LSU: RHP Zack Hess
6-4, 3.79 ERA, 59.1 IP
PROJECTED STARTERS
Ole Miss: RHP Brady Feigl
7-2, 3.30 ERA, 57.1 IP
LSU: RHP Ma'Khail Hilliard
7-3, 3.12 ERA, 49.0 IP
PROJECTED STARTERS
Ole Miss: RHP James McArthur 
5-0, 3.17 ERA, 48.1 IP
LSU:TBA

GAMES 43-45
Date: April 26-28, 2018
First Pitch: Thu: 7 p.m. | Fri: 6:30 p.m. | Sat: 3 p.m.
Location: Oxford, Mississippi
Venue: Swayze Field (10,715)
Dimensions: LF-330, CF-390, RF-330
TV: Thu: SEC Network | Fri: SEC Network + | Sat: ESPNU
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network
     David Kellum, Play-by-Play
     Keith Kessinger, Analyst
Live Audio: OleMissSports.com
Live Stats: OleMissSports.com
Twitter Updates: @OleMissBSB
Series History: LSU leads 173-152
Last Meeting: Apr. 13-15, 2018
     LSU won two of three in Baton Rouge

LEADING OFF
• No. 5 Ole Miss enters this weekend tied for the lead in the SEC West at 10-8 in conference play.
• Head coach Mike Bianco is set for a meeting with his alma mater. The Rebel coach caught at LSU and was the team captain during its 1989 College World Series run. Bianco was also an assistant coach for the Tigers prior to earning his first HC job at McNeese State.
• After last weekend's series win over then-No. 12 Georgia, Ole Miss moved back into the top five according to Baseball America and sits at No. 6 in most national polls. After Tuesday night, the Rebels are seventh in the RPI.
• The Rebels are tied for the third-most wins in college baseball, behind only Tennessee Tech (34) and Florida (34).
• Ole Miss is one of two teams in the nation to rank 31st or better nationally in batting average, ERA and fielding percentage.
• The Rebel pitching staff is No. 1 in the SEC in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 3.02. With 399 strikeouts and 132 walks issued, the Rebels are second in the SEC in both categories. On the other side, the Rebs have struck out the second-fewest times in the league.
• Through 42 games this season, Ole Miss has scored 100 more runs on 86 more hits than this point last year. The Rebel offense has added 25 more doubles, 12 more home runs while striking out 61 fewer times.
• Of the Rebels' 10 defeats this season, nine have come by two runs or fewer.
• Thomas Dillard is one of just two players in the SEC and 19 players in the nation in college baseball's 40/40 club with more than 40 RBI and 40 runs scored. Dillard hit his ninth home run of the season Tuesday night to add to those totals.
• Ryan Olenek is on a 19-game hitting streak, the longest active streak in the SEC. He's hitting .479 in league play, the conference's best mark. He is statistically the toughest player to strike out in the league with just 11 K on the season.
• Will Golsan has reached base in 11 straight games for the Rebels. Over the past two weeks, the senior captain is batting .483 with an astounding OPS of 1.357, three home runs (all in SEC play), 10 RBI, 14 hits and eight runs scored. 
• Chase Cockrell is coming off a strong midweek performance (2-for-4, 2 R, 1 RBI) and is hitting .355 on the year, 8th in the SEC.

PROBABLE STARTERS
Thursday • 7 p.m. 

LHP Ryan Rolison (Ole Miss) | 5-3, 3.19 ERA, 59.1 IP
RHP Zack Hess (LSU) | 6-4, 3.79 ERA, 59.1 IP

ROLISON NOTES 
• Eight starts with six or more strikeouts this season; seven with eight-plus K
• Third-most strikeouts in the SEC (77), 34th in the country
• Averaging 11.68 strikeouts per nine innings, 38th in the nation, 3rd in SEC
• SEC Pitcher of the Week (Feb. 19)
• Struck out a career-high 12 in the season opener vs. Winthrop
• 12 K were the most in an opener since Lance Lynn had 12 back in 2008
• Named Preseason All-American by four different outlets | Golden Spikes Award Watch List
•  No. 2 2018 MLB Draft prospect according to D1Baseball
•  2017 Freshman All-American (Collegiate Baseball)
•  Four different outlets have him No. 12 or higher in 2018 MLB Draft projections

Friday • 6:30 p.m.
RHP Brady Feigl (Ole Miss) | 7-2, 3.30 ERA, 57.1 IP
RHP Ma'Khail Hilliard (LSU) | 7-3, 3.12 ERA, 49.0 IP

FEIGL NOTES 
• Tied for 14th in the NCAA and fourth in the SEC with seven wins on the season
• Two earned runs allowed in 8-4 win last outing vs. Georgia
• Allowed just two hits in 5.1 IP a week ago at Vanderbilt
• Named National Pitcher of the Month for February by NCBWA
• Has allowed just 13 hits on two outs this season. Opp. are batting .200 vs. Feigl with two outs.
• Has induced more groundouts (78) than any Rebel pitcher this season, including 5 GDPs.
• Registered five three-up, three-down innings in Game 2 win at Long Beach State
• Selected in 35th round of 2017 MLB Draft by L.A. Angels
• Team captain for 2018
• Freshman All-American (Louisville Slugger) in 2016

Saturday • 3 p.m.
RHP James McArthur (Ole Miss) | 5-0, 3.17 ERA, 48.1 IP
TBA (LSU)

McARTHUR NOTES 
• Fewest hits allowed per nine innings among Rebel starters at 6.70.
• Has allowed just eight hits (.118) with runners on base.
• Has allowed only eight hits (.157) with two outs.
• Has pitched into more flyouts (68) than any other pitcher on staff.
• Right-handed hitters are batting .185 against McArthur.
• Returns as the pitcher with the most starts from 2017 (12).
• Ranked ninth in the SEC in opponent average (.209) a year ago.
• Freshman All-American (Louisville Slugger) in 2016

SCOUTING LSU
LSU enters the weekend coming off an 8-0 midweek win over Lamar. In their last SEC action, the Tigers were swept on the road at South Carolina. LSU is 2-10 on the road this season. The Tigers will throw Zack Hess on Thursday night in what could be a strikeout-heavy matchup. Hess boasts 73 strikeouts on the season while Ole Miss' Thursday night starter, Ryan Rolison, is just ahead with 77. LSU remains undecided on its Saturday night starter. Ma'Khail Hilliard will throw Friday night. Hilliard shared SEC Freshman of the Week honors with Tyler Keenan in Week 8. LSU has a strong offensive lineup, led by Antoine Duplantis, Zach Watson and Austin Bain who are each hitting over .315. Duplantis is hitting .341 with four triples and 33 RBI. Watson is hitting .331 with a slugging percentage of .534 with five home runs. Bain has cracked 13 doubles and driven in 29 runs.

SERIES HISTORY
Ole Miss and LSU is a rivalry that's 112 years old, dating back to 1906. The Tigers lead the all-time series 173-152. LSU took last year's meeting as the eighth-ranked Tigers won two of three in Baton Rouge. In 2016, the Rebels downed the No. 8 Tigers in two of three in Oxford. Coach Bianco is 27-35 all-time against his alma mater.

ON THE RECORD
Ole Miss is tied for the third-most wins in college baseball, behind only Tennessee Tech (34-5) and Florida (34-9). The Rebels are eighth in the nation in win percentage at .762. Ole Miss trails just Florida in the SEC for the most wins, fewest losses and best win percentage. Only nine teams in NCAA Division I have fewer losses than the Rebels (10).

BIANCO'S ALMA MATER
Head coach Mike Bianco played and coached at LSU. Bianco's winning ways can be traced back to playing two seasons for Skip Bertman at LSU in 1988 and 1989. He was the starting catcher and team captain for the Tigers' 1989 team that finished third at the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. He homered in LSU's 6-3 win over Miami (Fla.) in the 1989 CWS to help advance the Tigers to the semifinals. While working behind the plate for LSU, Bianco caught major league pitchers Ben McDonald, Russ Springer, Curtis Leskanic, John O'Donoghue, Chad Ogea and Paul Byrd. He was named to the All-Alex Box Omaha Era Team by LSU in 2008. His time behind the plate as a player would later benefit him as he would serve as LSU's pitching coach during three world series championship teams in the 1990s. In five seasons at LSU (1993-1997), the Tigers advanced to the College World Series four times and claimed three national championships. LSU also won three Southeastern Conference crowns and two SEC Tournament titles in that five-year span. After the Tigers' 1997 College World Series title run, Bianco was named the head coach at McNeese State in July of that year. 

ALL THREE PHASES
Ole Miss is one of just two teams in the nation to rank 31st or better in ERA, batting average and fielding percentage. The Rebels are 31st in ERA, 19th in batting average and 17th in fielding percentage. The other is St. John's, which is second in ERA, 25th in batting average and 27th in fielding percentage.

REBS RECOGNIZED
Ole Miss added its fourth SEC Weekly Honor of year last week as Tyler Keenan was named SEC Freshman of the Week for the second straight week. He's the first Rebel ever to earn FOTW honors in back-to-back weeks, and he joins Alex Yarbrough as the only two Rebels to win the award twice.

The week prior, closer Parker Caracci was named SEC Pitcher of the Week after earning the save in all three of the Rebels' wins. Keenan was named SEC co-Freshman of the Week after hitting the game-deciding home run in Game 3 against Arkansas. Last, Caracci also earned Midseason All-American honors from Perfect Game/Rawlings and D1Baseball.

Brady Feigl was named NCBWA's Pitcher of the Month for February after his torrid start to the season. Ryan Rolison earned the first Pitcher of the Week award of the season in the SEC after mowing down Winthrop in the Rebels' season opener.

ALL STRIKES, NO WALKS
Ole Miss is No. 1 in the SEC in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 3.02, good for ninth in the nation. With 399 strikeouts, the Rebels are second SEC just behind Missouri (401). The Rebes have issued just 132 walks, also the second-best figure in the league behind Arkansas (130).

REBS RAISE THE BAR
Compared to last season, the Rebels have found another level of production at the plate. Through 42 games this season, Ole Miss has scored 100 more runs on 86 more hits than this point last year. The Rebel offense has added 25 more doubles, 12 more home runs and 95 more RBI. Ole Miss has also struck out 61 fewer times than it did through 42 games last season. The Rebels are batting nearly .060 points better and slugging almost .100 points better than they did a year ago.

DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK
Of the Rebels' 32 wins this season, 13 have been come-from-behind victories. 

CLOSE CALLS
Nine of the Rebels' 10 losses this season have come by two runs or fewer.

SUPERB AT SWAYZE
Ole Miss has won its last nine series at Swayze Field. The Rebels have also won their last eight series against ranked teams in front of the Swayze Crazies. The Rebels are 22-3 at home this season.

OLE MISS MASH
The 2018 Ole Miss offense is on pace to be one of the program's best. Hitting .301 now on the season, the Rebels are vying to be the first team since 2009 to hit over .300 for the season. The 2009 club hit .310 as one of the most prolific hitting clubs in program history. The Rebels hit over .300 in four of five seasons from 2005-09, highlighted by a program record .321 in 2005.

At .301, Ole Miss is up to second in the SEC and 19th in the nation. The Rebels rank in the top 25 nationally in eight offensive categories.

DOUBLE TROUBLE
Ole Miss is No. 13 in the nation with 89 doubles on the year. The Rebels are No. 2 the SEC in that category behind Florida (96). They're No. 24 in the nation and third in the league with 2.12 doubles per game, and at that pace, they'll finish the season close to the single-season record of 144, set in 2005. To this point last season, the Rebels had just 64 doubles, and they had 96 all of last year.

BOMBS AWAY
Ole Miss has been one of the best power-hitting teams in college baseball this season. The Rebels are No. 12 nationally in slugging percentage at .473. They're 17th in the nation and fifth in the SEC with 47 home runs on the season. The Rebels are averaging 1.12 homers per game, good for 22nd in the country and fifth in the conference.

Thomas Dillard leads Ole Miss with nine homers on the year. Cole Zabowski and Nick Fortes are on his heels with seven home runs apiece. Four Rebels--Fortes, Dillard, Will Golsan and Chase Cockrell--boast multi-homer games this year. Golsan is the only one to accomplish the feat in SEC play. Zabowski and Keenan are tied for the team lead in homers in conference play at four apiece.

RALLY ON TWO
Ole Miss has had a knack for two-out hitting this season. Of the Rebels' 271 RBI, 99 have come with two outs, giving them more than they had all of last season (95). By comparison, the Rebel pitching staff has allowed just 55 two-out RBI. Through 42 games last season, Ole Miss had just 73 two-out RBI. 

DILLY, DILLY!
Thomas Dillard is one of 19 players in college baseball's 40/40 club with more than 40 runs scored and 40 RBI. Dillard and Florida's Wil Dalton are the only players in the SEC on the list. Dillard is fourth in the SEC and 32nd in the nation with 43 runs scored on the year, and he's second in the league and 36th nationally with 44 RBI.

It took Dillard, who was a regular starter in 2017 as well, just 21 games to eclipse his home run total from all of last season, now with nine on the year. His biggest blast of the year came against Eastern Illinois. It traveled an estimated 435 feet with an astounding exit velocity of 111.7 mph--the hardest-hit ball at Swayze Field this season. His latest home run was another jaw-dropping bomb that was hit off the restaurant in right field at Trustmark Park, home of the Double-A Mississippi Braves.

CAPTAIN CLUTCH
Senior Will Golsan has hit the ball hard all season, and now those hits are finding gaps. Over the last two weeks, Golsan is batting .483 with an astounding OPS of 1.357 with three home runs (all in SEC play), 10 RBI, 14 hits and eight runs scored. The team captain out of Columbus, Mississippi, blasted two home runs, driving in three runs in the Rebels' three-run series-deciding victory over then-No. 12 Georgia on Saturday

The Senior CLASS Award Candidate drove in seven runs last week, going 4-for-6 with runners on base and 3-for-5 with runners in scoring position. He was also 3-for-5 with two outs, adding four two-out RBI to his season total. Golsan leads Ole Miss with 17 two-out RBI this season. He is also 12th in the nation and first in the SEC with six sac flies on the year.

OLEY DOESN'T MISS
Ryan Olenek is swinging one of the hottest bats in college baseball right now. The junior out of Winter Park, Florida, is on a 19-game hitting streak and has reached base in 21-straight contests. The 19-game streak, which has been on since March 22, is the longest this season for the Rebs. It is the longest active streak in the SEC and the second-longest all year in the conference behind Florida's Jonathan India (24). During his hit streak, Olenek is batting .507 with 38 hits, 16 runs scored, seven doubles and an OPS of 1.171. He has tallied 14 multi-hit games during his current hitting streak, including three a week ago at Vanderbilt.

Olenek is the toughest player to strike out in the SEC, having struck out just 11 times in 156 at-bats for a K rating of 14.2. Only five of those strikeouts have come in league play, where his K rating is also 14.2. Looking across the nation, Olenek is 17th toughest to strike out, 21st in hits, 21st in batting average and 49th in doubles. Olenek leads the SEC in batting average (.479) and hits (34) in conference play. He boasts an OPS of 1.162 and is third with seven doubles in league play.

GRAE FINDING HIS WAY
Sophomore shortstop Grae Kessinger started the season on a tear for Ole Miss as his batting average rocketed as high as .464 in the first few weeks of the season.

The Oxonian hit a midseason slump but has since broken out, including home runs in back-to-back games this past week. 

KEENAN IS KEY
Tyler Keenan has been seeing the ball as well as any freshman the country of late en route to back-to-back SEC Freshman of the Week honors for Weeks 7 and 8. Keenan is the first Rebel to win the award in back-to-back weeks, and he joins Alex Yarbrough as just the second Rebel ever to win it twice.

RESERVE POWER
Tim Rowe and Michael Fitzsimmons have shown great power coming off the bench for Ole Miss this season.

Rowe filled in for Ryan Olenek in right field on Tuesday night against Mississippi State, going 3-for-3 with an RBi and a run scored. he also made an incredible catch as he crashed into the right field wall to prevent several runs from crossing the plate.

Fitzsimmons came through with a go-ahead pinch-hit double in the ninth inning, his second outstanding clutch performance off the bench this season. Fitzsimmons also blasted a pinch-hit grand slam against Texas A&M.


 

 

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