Rebels Hit the Road to Face Red Wolves Tuesday
May 15, 2017

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The Last Meeting
Arkansas State4
Ole Miss16
February 21, 2017
Oxford, Miss.
Freshman Pitching Shines as No. 8 Rebels Thump Arkansas State, 16-4
Four freshmen dazzled on the mound, and 16 hits at the plate led the No. 8 Ole Miss baseball team to a 16-4 thumping of Arkansas State Tuesday night at Swayze Field.

Matchup: Ole Miss (31-21) at Arkansas State (23-26)
Date: May 16, 2017
Location: Jonesboro, Ark.
Venue: Tomlinson Stadium-Kell Field
Capacity: 1,200
Television: None
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network
    David Kellum, play-by-play
    Keith Kessinger, analyst
Live Audio:
Series: Ole Miss leads 72-22
Last Game: Feb. 21, 2017
        Ole Miss won 16-4
        Oxford, Miss.

- The Rebels finish the 2017 regular season with four road games in a span of fives days.
- Ole Miss is coming off a series win over No. 19 Texas A&M, its fifth victorious series over a ranked team this year.
- The Rebels are 9-4 in midweek games this season, winning six of their past seven.  
- In the last nine meetings with Arkansas State, Ole Miss has won eight of them.
- Ole Miss pitched four freshmen in the first game against ASU this season (Feb. 21) but will go with redshirt-senior Sean Johnson to start Tuesday's game.
- The Rebels are averaging 11 runs per game over the past six games at the Red Wolves' home field.
- Junior Will Golsan is 8-for-18 (.444) with eight runs and three RBI in his career versus Arkansas State, including going 4-for-5 with four runs and two RBI in the game earlier this season.
- Senior Colby Bortles has 152 career RBI, which ranks 10th on the Ole Miss all-time list.
- Sophomore Dallas Woolfolk is one save away from tying the school record for saves in a single season.
- Head coach Mike Bianco has 661 career victories at Ole Miss, ranking sixth on the SEC all-time wins list.

TUESDAY, 6:30 P.M.
Arkansas State - Bryan Ayers, R-Jr., RHP, 2-5, 7.56 ERA, 41.2 IP
Ole Miss - Sean Johnson, R-Sr., RHP, 1-0, 3.29 ERA, 13.2 IP
- Has made two starts this season, giving up only one run in each start
- Took a no-hitter into the seventh inning versus ULM (May 3), allowing only one run on one hit and striking out six to earn the victory
- Surrendered one run on two hits over 4.0 innings in a start at Memphis (March 21)
- Pitched one scoreless inning versus Nicholls (March 14), retiring the side in his 2017 debut
- One of only two seniors on the team but graduated in 2016 with a degree in general studies.
- 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
- Pitched against Arkansas State last season, allowing three runs on six hits in 1.0 inning.
- 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

Arkansas State enters the midweek matchup with a 23-26 record after dropping a road series to Georgia Southern over the weekend. The Red Wolves hold a winning record at home (14-12) but have lost their last six at Tomlinson Stadium-Kell Field. Joe Schrimipf leads Arkansas State at the plate with a .333 batting average and 39 runs. Providing power is ASU slugger Justin Felix, who holds team highs in doubles (12), home runs (8) and RBI (41). On the mound, the Red Wolves will start redshirt-junior Bryan Ayers. The right-hander has made 11 appearances this season, including nine starts. He is 2-5 with a 7.56 ERA over 41.1 innings, and opponents are hitting at a .322 clip against him. The Red Wolves are coached by Tommy Raffo, who is in his ninth season at ASU.

For the 12th consecutive season, the Rebels and Red Wolves are playing a home-and-home series. Along with Tuesday's game in Jonesboro, the two squads met earlier this season in Oxford (Feb. 21) with Ole Miss claiming a 16-4 victory. Ole Miss leads the all-time series with Arkansas State 72-22, including victories in eight of the past nine matchups. Under head coach Mike Bianco, the Rebels are 25-9 versus Arkansas State.

In the first midweek game for both teams in 2017, four freshmen dazzled on the mound, and 16 hits at the plate led Ole Miss to a 16-4 thumping of Arkansas State at Swayze Field (Feb. 21). The young quartet of Will Ethridge, Houston Roth, Ryan Rolison and Greer Holston combined for 19 strikeouts, the most by an Ole Miss pitching staff since a 16-inning game in 2015 and only two off the school record. Making his debut, Ethridge mowed down the Red Wolves. He recorded 10 strikeouts, the most by an Ole Miss freshman since 2007 and the most in an Ole Miss debut this century. Roth, another freshman making his first appearance as a Rebel, struck out five over 2.0 scoreless innings of work. Rolison and Holston closed out the contest with one inning apiece, keeping ASU off the scoreboard. At the plate, junior Will Golsan led the way with a 4-for-5 performance that included four runs, three doubles and two RBI. Freshman Thomas Dillard recorded a career-high three hits, while Nick Fortes and Kyle Watson posted multi-hit games as well. Nine Rebels recorded hits throughout the night, including the first in the career of freshman Bryan Seamster.

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 28 of the Rebels' last 30 games. The catcher caught 13 of those games behind the plate and has also started 15 games at first base. Since assuming starting duties, Fortes is hitting .349 (30-for-86). In 39 games this season, including 33 starts, he leads the team with a .328 batting average, including .342 in SEC play. Over the past eight contests spanning two weeks, Fortes boasts a .419 clip at the dish. In a midweek game against ULM (May 2), he hit two home runs in the sixth inning to become the first Rebel to homer twice in the same inning since Michael Guerrero(May 31, 2008 vs. Bethune-Cookman in the NCAA Coral Gables Regional). He concluded the weekend at No. 5 Florida with another three-hit performance before recording at least one hit in all three games versus No. 19 Texas A&M.

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, Colby Bortles is the SEC leader with six sacrifice flies, while Dallas Woolfolk ranks 11th nationally with 12 saves.

Stat NCAA Rank SEC Rank
Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio                   3.17 7th 1st
WHIP 1.20 11th 2nd
Strikeouts/9 Innings  9.3 17th 3rd
Walks/9 Innings 2.93 18th 2nd
Shutouts 6 18th 4th
ERA 3.47 23rd 4th
Hits/9 Innings 7.85 23rd 7th

Tate Blackman and Colby Bortles, the captains of the team, have shown their leadership at the plate. On the season, Bortles leads Ole Miss in RBI (41), home runs (10) and 12 multi-RBI games. He has reached base in 18 consecutive games as well. Meanwhile, Blackman paces the team in runs (43) and triples (3), slugging percentage (.527) and on base percentage (.417). The two helped put away No. 19 Texas A&M in the series finale, hitting home runs in the bottom of the eighth. With the Rebels leading by two, Blackman belted a solo home run before Bortles followed with a two-run blast in what could be the senior's final at-bat at Swayze Field.

Ole Miss has scored in the first inning in 11 of the last 16 games, including all three contests versus No. 19 Texas A&M over the weekend. On the season, the Rebels are 12-6 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 14 runs through 52 games. Plating 31 runs themselves, the Rebels' +17 run differential is the team's second-best inning.

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 2.00 ERA over a team-high 25 appearances. Along with tallying 40 strikeouts and issuing only five walks, Woolfolk is 3-2 and boasts 12 saves as the team's closer. His 12 saves rank third in the SEC as well as 11th nationally. Woolfolk is one save away from tying Stephen Head (2003) for the most in a single season in Ole Miss history. 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 six of his saves. In 36.0 innings, Woolfolk is holding opposing hitters to a .194 batting average. As a freshman, he was 1-0 with a 2.55 ERA and one save in 18 appearances (17.2 innings). With 13 career saves already, Woolfolk ranks tied for seventh on the program's all-time list. 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.  

Junior Will Golsan has been the most consistent Ole Miss hitter this season, leading the team in hits (64) and multi-hit games (19). The Columbus, Mississippi, native also ranks second on the team in batting average (.317), runs (39) and doubles (11). He hits even better in SEC play with a .340 average in conference games. Recording at least one hit in 16 of the last 18 games, Golsan is hitting at a .443 clip (27-for-61). He helped lead Ole Miss to a victorious series over Texas A&M, going 7-for-13 during the three-game set. 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 52 games (48 in right field, three in center field, one at first base).  

Past the halfway point of the 2017 regular season, it's clear that Ole Miss is a young baseball team. On the mound, 75 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.

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 14 outfield assists in 2017. Will Golsan and Ryan Olenek lead the way with five assists apiece.  Thomas Dillard has two, while Bryan Seamster and Kyle Watson each have one outfield assist to their credit.

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 115-1 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 27-0 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 (42 starts), C Cooper Johnson (34 starts), SS Grae Kessinger (49 starts) and 1B Cole Zabowski (23 starts). On the mound, five freshmen have made their presence known as well: RHP Jason Barber (three appearances), RHP Will Ethridge (19 appearances),  RHP Greer Holston (15 appearances), LHP Ryan Rolison (18 appearances) and RHP Houston Roth (15 appearances).  

The 2017 season is the 17th year of Ole Miss Baseball led by Mike Bianco, the program's all-time wins leader. With 661 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.

After the final midweek non-conference game of 2017, Ole Miss will travel to No. 23 Auburn to put a lid on the regular season conference slate (May 18-20). The three-game series begins Thursday night at 6 p.m. CT with game two beginning at the same time on Friday. The series finale will start at 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon.






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