Road Rebels Travel to Florida This Weekend
May 4, 2017

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WEEKEND SERIES
Matchup: (RV) Ole Miss (29-17, 11-10 SEC) at #5 Florida (32-13, 13-8 SEC)
Dates: May 5-7
Location: Gainesville, Fla.
Venue: Alfred A. McKethan Stadium
Capacity: 5,500
Television: SECN+ (Fri., Sat.)/SEC Network (Sun.)
    Mick Hubert/Mike Morgan, play-by-play
    Nick Belmonte/Jay Walker, analyst
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network
    David Kellum, play-by-play
    Keith Kessinger, analyst
Live Audio: OleMissSports.com
Series: Ole Miss leads 48-41
Last Series: March 20-21, 2015
        Ole Miss won two-of-three
        Oxford, Miss.

QUICK HITS
- The Rebels are coming off a midweek sweep of ULM, scoring 26 runs over the two games.
- Ole Miss has the toughest remaining SEC schedule in the conference.
- The last time Ole Miss and Florida met, the Rebels knocked off the No. 1 Gators by taking two-of-three at Swayze Field (March 20-21, 2015).
- The home team has won each of the last five series between the two programs.
- Five Rebels hail from the Sunshine State.
- Offensively, Ole Miss is hitting .431 as a team this week.
- Starting pitcher James McArthur is the reigning SEC Pitcher of the Week.
- Freshman Ryan Rolison has allowed the fewest runs (12) and ranks third in ERA among SEC starters.
- The Rebels are 24-2 when scoring at least four runs.
- Ole Miss pitching leads the SEC in ERA (3.03), hits allowed per nine innings (7.38), strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.34) and WHIP (1.14), while ranking top 10 nationally in all four categories.

PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
FRIDAY, 5:30 P.M.
Florida - Alex Faedo, Jr., RHP, 6-1, 2.62 ERA, 72.0 IP
Ole Miss - James McArthur, So., RHP, 3-3, 3.08 ERA, 52.2 IP
NOTING MCARTHUR:
- Reigning SEC Pitcher of the Week after throwing a career-high 8.0 innings and allowing only one hit at No. 10 Arkansas (April 27)
- Leads the SEC (among qualified pitchers) in holding opponents to a .169 batting average and only 31 hits
- Collected a win against Alabama, going 7.0 innings and allowing only one run on two hits to go along with seven strikeouts
- 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)
- Standing 6’ 7”, tied with Sean Johnson as the tallest Rebel on the team

SATURDAY, 5:30 P.M.
Florida - Brady Singer, So., RHP, 5-3, 2.09 ERA, 77.2 IP
Ole Miss - Ryan Rolison, Fr., LHP, 6-2, 1.84 ERA, 49.0 IP
NOTING ROLISON:
- Has allowed the fewest runs (12) in the SEC among qualified pitchers and ranks third in ERA
- Named SEC Freshman of the Week (April 24) 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 seven starts
- Rated as the No. 10 freshman prospect in the nation (D1Baseball.com)
- 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

SUNDAY, 1 P.M.
Florida - Jackson Kowar, So., RHP, 7-0, 3.90 ERA, 64.2 IP
Ole Miss - David Parkinson, Jr., LHP, 5-2, 3.43 ERA, 63.0 IP
NOTING PARKINSON:
- Only Rebel pitcher to start during every weekend of the season
- Earned a win over No. 8 LSU (April 14), allowing only one run over 6.1 innings
- 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

SCOUTING FLORIDA
The No. 5 Gators enter the weekend on a six-game winning streak. After winning the series finale over South Carolina, Florida swept Georgia on the road and collected midweek victories over Florida A&M and Jacksonville. On the season, the Gators are 32-13, including 13-8 in SEC play. This weekend’s matchup will be a battle of pitching as Florida’s 3.17 team ERA ranks third behind Ole Miss’ SEC-best 3.03 ERA. The Gators’ consistent rotation has been a factor into the success on the mound. Alex Faedo (6-1, 2.62 ERA), Brady Singer (5-3, 2.09 ERA) and Jackson Kowar (7-0, 3.90 ERA) have all made starts each week of the season. In the back end of the bullpen, Michael Byrne holds 11 saves to go along with a 2.01 ERA over 23 appearances. At the dish, Ryan Larson and Nelson Maldonado lead the team with batting averages of .327 and .314, respectively. Kevin O’Sullivan is in his 10th season as Florida’s head coach.

SERIES HISTORY
Ole Miss leads the all-time series with Florida 48-41, including a 24-17 advantage under head coach Mike Bianco. The Rebels and Gators have battled throughout recent history with the home team winning each of the past five series between the two programs. The last time a road team claimed a weekend series, Ole Miss took down the Gators in Gainesville (April 17-19, 2009). Ole Miss and Florida will be meeting for the first time since 2015, when the Rebels won two-of-three games over the then-No. 1 team in the country at Swayze Field (March 20-21, 2015).

SUNSHINE STATE REBELS
Five Rebels hail from the state of Florida: Tate Blackman (Altamonte Springs), Colby Bortles (Oviedo), Nick Fortes (Deland), Ryan Olenek (Winter Springs) and Thomas Spinelli (Ocala).

OFFENSE CHARGED UP TO START THE WEEK
Playing two games against ULM to start the week, the Ole Miss bats were on fire. The Rebels tallied 26 runs on 28 hits to sweep the midweek series, hitting .431 as a team. In the opener, Ole Miss scored 18 runs over its final three innings at the plate to take down the Warhawks 21-7 in a game shortened to seven innings. With 21 runs, the Rebels scored their most runs in a game since April 29, 2009 (22-2 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff). Ole Miss also posted a season-high 17 hits as seven Rebels produced multi-hit games. Closing out the midweek, the Rebels used a four-run sixth inning and 11 hits throughout the contest to win the second game 5-3. Sophomore Nick Fortes led Ole Miss at the plate during the series, hitting .556 with seven RBI, six runs and three homers.

DIFFICULT CLOSING STRETCH
With three weeks remaining until the SEC Tournament, the Rebels have the toughest conference schedule to end the regular season. Upcoming opponents are a combined 40-23 (.635) in conference play. After facing Florida (13-8 SEC) this weekend, Ole Miss will host Texas A&M (13-8) before closing the season at Auburn (14-7). All three teams are ranked in the top 15 nationally.

SUCCESS AGAINST TOP-RANKED TEAMS
The Rebels are no stranger to facing the nation’s best competition. Ole Miss has won 27 games against top-10 teams over the last four 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), No. 8 LSU (2017) and No. 10 Arkansas (2017).

THE YEARLY GAUNTLET
The Rebels are 14-10 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 series over No. 15 Vanderbilt and No. 10 Arkansas, while taking one game from both No. 8 LSU and No. 19 Kentucky. 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.

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 22 of the Rebels’ last 24 games. The catcher caught 13 of those games behind the plate and has also started nine games at first base. Since assuming starting duties, Fortes is hitting .370 (22-for-64). In 33 games this season, including 27 starts, he leads the team with a .320 batting average, including .333 in SEC play. In the midweek series against ULM, the Deland, Florida, native went 5-for-9 with seven RBI, six runs and three homers. In Tuesday’s game, he hit two home runs in the sixth inning to become the first Rebel to homer twice in the same inning since 2008 (Michael Guerrero - May 31 vs. Bethune-Cookman in the NCAA Coral Gables Regional).

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. 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 National Rank SEC Rank
WHIP                1.13 3rd 1st
Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio 3.34 3rd 1st
ERA 3.03  9th 1st
Hits/9 Innings 7.38 9th 1st
Shutouts 6 12th 3rd
Walks/9 Innings 2.79 17th 3rd
Strikeouts/9 Innings 9.3 18th 3rd


TEAM CAPTAINS LEAD THE WAY
Tate Blackman and Colby Bortles, the captains of the team, were two catalysts in the Rebels’ series victory at No. 10 Arkansas last weekend. 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 11 multi-RBI games, while Blackman ranks second with six. The two have both reached base in each of the last 12 games.

FIRST INNING RUNS
Ole Miss has scored in the first inning in seven of the last 10 games. On the season, the Rebels are 10-3 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 10 runs through 46 games. Plating 25 runs themselves, the Rebels’ +15 run differential in the first is tied for the team’s best inning.

MCARTHUR NAMED SEC PITCHER OF THE WEEK
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.

WOOLFOLK THE CLOSER
With Wyatt Short now in the professional ranks with the World Series champion Chicago Cubs organization, Dallas Woolfolk burst onto the scene in 2017 to become the go-to reliever at the end of games.  Woolfolk, whose fastball ranges from 94-97 mph, has been nearly unhittable this season. The Southaven, Mississippi, native holds a 1.15 ERA over a team-high 22 appearances. Along with tallying 34 strikeouts and issuing only four walks, Woolfolk is 3-1 and boasts 10 saves as the team’s top closer. His 10 saves rank third in the SEC as well as 20th 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 five of his saves. In 31.1 innings, Woolfolk is holding opposing hitters to a team-best .157 batting average. As a freshman, he 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. He was named to the midseason watch list for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Stopper of the Year Award (April 26), one of 40 pitchers on the watch list for the award given annually to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I Baseball.  

GOLSAN LEADS THE WAY
Junior Will Golsan has been the most consistent Ole Miss hitter this season, leading the team in  hits (54) and multi-hit games (16). The Columbus, Mississippi, native also ranks second on the team in batting average (.303), runs (32) and doubles (9). He hits even better in SEC play with a .317 average in conference games. Recording at least one hit in 11 of the last 12 games, Golsan is hitting at a .459 clip (17-for-37). Throughout his career, he’s shown his versatility in the field as well, starting at 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 46 games (45 in right field, one at first base).  

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 24-2 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.

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, 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 30 percent of the time.

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 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.

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 113-1 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 25-0 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 (38 starts), C Cooper Johnson (28 starts), SS Grae Kessinger (43 starts) and 1B Cole Zabowski (22 starts). On the mound, five freshmen have made their presence known as well: RHP Jason Barber (three appearances), RHP Will Ethridge (16 appearances),  RHP Greer Holston (14 appearances), LHP Ryan Rolison (16 appearances) and RHP Houston Roth (12 appearances).  

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 659 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.

ON THE HORIZON
For the first time this season, Ole Miss will not play a midweek game next week. Finals week allows the Rebels to finish the academic semester strong before preparing for their last home series of the regular season. Ole Miss will battle nationally ranked Texas A&M for a three-game set (May 12-14). The SEC West series begins Friday night at 6:30 p.m. on SECN+ before the final two games take place on SEC Network. The second game will be a national broadcast under the Swayze Field lights with a 6 p.m. first pitch Saturday night. The series finale is set for 12 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
 

 

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