Baseball Welcomes ULM to Oxford for Midweek Series
May 1, 2017

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The Last Meeting
Ole Miss4
February 26, 2014
Oxford, Miss.
Allen Gives No. 24 Rebels 4-3 Walk-Off Win Over ULM
Senior catcher Will Allen delivered a bases-loaded single to bring home the winning run in the ninth and give No. 24 Ole Miss a 4-3 win over ULM.

Matchup: ULM (12-32) at (RV) Ole Miss (27-17)
Dates: May 2-3
Location: Oxford, Miss.
Venue: Swayze Field
Capacity: 10,323
Television: SECN+
    Will Kollmeyer, play-by-play
    David Dellucci, analyst
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network
    David Kellum, play-by-play
    Keith Kessinger, analyst
Live Audio:
Series: Ole Miss leads 28-10-1
Last Series: Feb. 25-26, 2014
        Ole Miss won both games
        Oxford, Miss.

Tuesday, May 2, 6:30 p.m.
» 3rd Annual Star Wars Night at Swayze
» Kids Night! Kids 12 and under get in FREE
» $1 Hot Dog Night

Wednesday, May 3, 4 p.m.
» Kids Night! Kids 12 and under get in FREE
» $1 Hot Dog Night

- The Rebels are coming off winning two-of-three games at No. 10 Arkansas, their second series victory over a top 10 team this season.
- Team captains Tate Blackman and Colby Bortles both hit .417 with two home runs apiece during the victorious road weekend.
- Ole Miss has won six straight games against ULM, two midweek games at home (2014), two midweek games on the road (2013) and two weekend contests at Swayze Field (2010).
- With 657 wins at Ole Miss, head coach Mike Bianco is sixth on the SEC all-time wins list.
- Starting pitcher James McArthur is the reigning SEC Pitcher of the Week.
- Ole Miss is the only SEC pitching staff with a sub-3.00 ERA.
- The Rebels are 22-2 when scoring at least four runs.
- Ole Miss pitching leads the SEC in ERA (2.92), strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.33) and WHIP (1.12), while ranking top 10 nationally in all three categories.

TUESDAY, 6:30 P.M.
ULM - Kyle Backofen, Fr., LHP, 1-4, 7.86 ERA, 26.1 IP
Ole Miss - Greer Holston, Fr., RHP, 2-3, 3.38 ERA, 45.1 IP
- Has made 12 appearances, including seven starts
- 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 championship and posting a 12-1 record with 99 strikeouts as well as a 0.91 ERA over 72.0 innings

ULM - Stephen Morrison, R-Jr., RHP, 0-0, 6.86 ERA, 21.0 IP
Ole Miss - Sean Johnson, R-Sr., RHP, 0-0, 4.70 ERA, 7.2 IP
- Has made one start this season, allowing one run on two hits over 4.0 innings at Memphis (March 21)
- Pitched one scoreless inning versus Nicholls last week (March 14), retiring the side in his 2017 debut
- 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

ULM enters the midweek series with a 12-32 record after dropping two-of-three to Georgia State over the weekend. The Rebels are the third SEC team the Warhawks will face this season. ULM lost three games to Alabama in a weekend series (March 3-5) before falling to Arkansas in a pair of midweek matchups (March 7-8). Freshman Hunter Johnson and junior catcher Stephen Hemphill pace the ULM bats by hitting at .310 clips. Turner Francis boasts a .309 batting average to go along with team highs in hits (50), runs (22) and RBI (20). Senior Anthony Herrera, an all-conference player two seasons ago, is a two-way player that thrives out of the ULM bullpen to hold the best ERA (1.56) on the staff. While Herrera is likely to pitch in relief, ULM will start freshman southpaw Kyle Backofen (1-4, 7.86 ERA) Tuesday and redshirt-junior RHP Stephen Morrison (0-0, 6.86 ERA) Wednesday. As a team, the Warhawks have a 6.27 ERA. Bruce Peddie is in his fourth season at the helm of the Warhawk baseball program.

Ole Miss and ULM will meet on the diamond for the first time since 2014 when the Rebels earned a pair of road midweek wins over the Warhawks. Ole Miss leads the all-time series 28-10-1, including winning the first matchup 6-4 in 1968 (ULM was known as Northeast Louisiana State at the time). The Rebels have won six straight against ULM, including the last four at Swayze Field.

Tate Blackman and Colby Bortles, the captains of the team, were two catalysts in the Rebels’ series victory at No. 10 Arkansas. Each Rebel hit .417 (5-for-12), and the duo combined for seven runs, 10 RBI and four home runs through the three games. Bortles hit a pair of homers in the series-opening 9-1 win, knocking in a season-high four runs. Blackman added a two-run home run Thursday night and also led off the series finale with a solo blast. On the season, Bortles leads Ole Miss with 10 multi-RBI games, while Blackman ranks second with six. The two have both reached base in each of the last 10 games.

Ole Miss has scored in the first inning in six of the last eight games. On the season, the Rebels are 9-3 when scoring in the opening frame. In terms of runs, Ole Miss pitching has been the most effective in the first inning this season, giving up only eight runs through 44 games. Plating 23 runs themselves, the Rebels’ +15 run differential in the first is tied with the second (32-17) for the team’s best inning.

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. Individually, James McArthur leads the conference in opponent batting average (.169). Also with an SEC-best 5.30 hits allowed per nine innings, McArthur ranks 10th nationally. Other SEC leaders include freshman Ryan Rolison in fewest runs allowed (12) and senior Colby Bortles with six sacrifice flies.

Stat NCAA Rank SEC Rank
WHIP                  1.12 3rd 1st
Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio 3.33 3rd 1st
ERA 2.92 9th 1st
Shutouts  6 12th  3rd
Hits/9 Innings 7.46 12th  3rd
Walks/9 Innings 2.79 17th 3rd
Strikeouts/9 Innings 9.3 20th 3rd

Following the best start of his career, James McArthur was named SEC Pitcher of the Week, the conference office announced Monday afternoon. McArthur earned the honor after shutting down No. 10 Arkansas Thursday night (April 27). McArthur won his second SEC weekly accolade of his career. Last year, he was named SEC Freshman of the Week (April 25, 2016) after pitching 11.2 scoreless innings over two appearances. Taking the mound in the series opener at No. 10 Arkansas, McArthur allowed only one hit over a career-high 8.0 innings. Six of those frames were 1-2-3 innings. The New Braunsfels, Texas, native faced 27 batters and retired 24 of them, allowing only one walk and a solo home run. He struck out six during his personal-best outing, keeping a good Arkansas offense in check through his eight innings of work. McArthur cruised through the first four innings, sending down 12 of the first 13 hitters. The sophomore only allowed a two-out walk during that stretch. Starting the bottom of the fifth, a solo homer became the only hit surrendered by McArthur. Another walk is the only other baserunner the Razorbacks got throughout the rest of the night as McArthur helped Ole Miss hang on to the lead and secure the victory. In a league with a plethora of talent on the mound, McArthur leads SEC qualified pitchers in opponent batting average (.169). He has only allowed 31 hits in 52.2 innings, which also tops the conference. Through nine starts, McArthur holds a 3-3 record with a 3.08 ERA and 47 strikeouts.

Junior Will Golsan has been the most consistent Ole Miss hitter this season, leading the team in batting average (.298), hits (51) and multi-hit games (15). The Columbus, Mississippi, native also ranks second on the team in runs (32) and doubles (8). Recording at least one hit in eight of the last nine games, Golsan is hitting at a .432 clip. He hits even better in SEC play with a .317 average in conference 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 44 games (43 in right field, one at first base).  

In terms of offense, four seems to be the magic number for Ole Miss. With an outstanding pitching staff, the Rebels are 22-2 when scoring at least four runs in a game. The two losses occurred when Memphis defeated Ole Miss 9-6 at Swayze Field (Feb. 28) and the Rebels’ last game at No. 10 Arkansas (April 28), a 7-4 setback.

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 20 of the Rebels’ last 22 games. The catcher caught 12 of those games behind the plate before making the move to first base, starting at the position for eight consecutive games. Since assuming the starting duties, Fortes is hitting .344 (22-for-64). In 31 games this season, including 25 starts, he is second on the team with a .295 batting average, including .333 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 12 outfield assists in 2017. Ryan Olenek and Will Golsan lead the way with four assists apiece. 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, 77 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 31 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 112-1 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 24-0 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 (37 starts), C Cooper Johnson (27 starts), SS Grae Kessinger (41 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 (15 appearances), Greer Holston (13 appearances), Ryan Rolison (16 appearances) and Houston Roth (12 appearances).  

Swayze Field provides the best atmosphere and some of the biggest crowds across the country for college baseball games. The Rebels have won over 70 percent of their home games throughout the past 28 seasons. The combination of winning baseball plus an electric fan base makes Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field a bucket list item for any sports fan. A 2016 survey conducted by proved it as Division I baseball coaches ranked Swayze Field top 10 nationally in six different categories, including prettiest setting, best traditions, best overall stadium and most intimidating cracking the top five. Last year, the Rebels averaged 8,502 fans per game, including five contests with the attendance over 10,000, to rank second nationally. In total, 291,714 fans watched Ole Miss Baseball at Swayze Field, which was also the third-highest total attendance in the country. Both marks set season attendance records. With single-game (12,177 on opening day versus East Carolina) and series (33,070 versus East Carolina) records already broken this season, Ole Miss has averaged 8,719 per game to rank second in the nation.

The 2017 season is the 17th year of Ole Miss Baseball led by Mike Bianco, the program’s all-time wins leader. With 657 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 after passing former Vanderbilt coach Roy Mewbourne last weekend.

Following the midweek series at home, 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 two games will air on SECN+ with 5:30 p.m. CT start times, while the series finale with Florida will be a SEC Network broadcast with a 1 p.m. CT first pitch. 






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