Baseball Begins SEC Tournament Play Tuesday
May 22, 2017

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The Last Meeting
Ole Miss8
#23 Auburn4
May 20, 2017
Auburn, Ala.
Ole Miss Closes Regular Season with Win at Auburn
In the final game of the regular season, the Ole Miss baseball team brought the bats to secure an 8-4 victory over Auburn Saturday at Plainsman Park.

Matchup: No. 9 seed Ole Miss (32-24, 14-16 SEC) vs. No. 8 seed Auburn (34-22, 16-14 SEC)
Date: May 23 2017
Location: Hoover, Ala.
Venue: Hoover Met
Capacity: 10,500
Television: SEC Network
    Tom Hart, play-by-play
    Kyle Peterson, analyst
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network
    David Kellum, play-by-play
    Keith Kessinger, analyst
Live Audio:
Series: Ole Miss leads 85-84-1
Last Series: May 18-20, 2017
        Auburn won two of three games
        Auburn, Ala.

- Ole Miss is playing its fourth straight game against Auburn.
- The Rebels are facing the Tigers in the SEC Tournament for the first time since May 28, 2010, a 10-7 win in 10 innings; Ole Miss is 1-2 all-time in the conference tournament against Auburn.  
- Ole Miss has won eight of the past 12 contests versus Auburn, including three-game sweeps in 2014 and 2016.
- The Rebels won the inaugural SEC Tournament in 1977 at Swayze Field.
- The Ole Miss pitching staff leads the SEC in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.19), ranking third nationally.
- Senior Colby Bortles has 153 career RBI, which ranks 10th on the Ole Miss all-time list; Bortles is a second team All-SEC honoree.
- Ryan Rolison was named to the SEC All-Freshman team Monday afternoon.
- Sophomore Dallas Woolfolk is one save away from tying the school record for saves in a single season.
- Head coach Mike Bianco has 662 career victories at Ole Miss, ranking sixth on the SEC all-time wins list.

TUESDAY, 4:30 P.M.
Auburn - Keegan Thompson, R-Jr., RHP, 6-4, 2.30 ERA, 82.1 IP
Ole Miss - Brady Feigl, R-So., RHP, 2-2, 3.83 ERA, 49.1 IP
- Tossed. 2.0 scoreless innings in Thursday’s game at Auburn (May 18), retiring all six hitters he faced
- Has made five starts this season, starting out as the No. 3 pitcher in the weekend rotation before moving to the bullpen
- Pitched a career-high 8.0 innings without allowing a run versus Furman (March 11), surrendering just four hits and one walk while striking out 10 for the first time in his career
- Earned a win over No. 23 UNCW (Feb. 26), his second career start; allowed one run on three hits and two walks without surrendering a hit until the fifth inning
- 2016 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American (Collegiate Baseball)
- Made 26 appearances out of the bullpen in his debut season, the second-most outings on the team and most by a freshman; his 39 strikeouts ranked second among Rebel relievers in 2016
- Redshirted the 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery

Auburn enters the SEC Tournament as the No. 8 seed after protecting its home turf in a series win over the Rebels. The Tigers are 34-22 on the season and finished with a 16-14 mark in conference play. Jonah Todd leads Auburn at the dish with a .385 batting average that ranks third in the SEC. Todd is the only Tiger to earn SEC honors, collecting second team all-conference and all-defense accolades. Meanwhile, Dylan Ingram paces Auburn in home runs (8), while Daniel Robert boasts a team-high 40 RBI. On the mound, the Tigers have a lethal 1-2 punch as Keegan Thompson and Casey Mize boast earned run averages of 2.30 and 1.97, respectively. Mize’s ERA ranks third in the SEC, while is 11.0 strikeout-to-walk ratio tops the nation. Thompson is expected to make his second start against Ole Miss. He tossed 6.0 scoreless innings to earn the win in the series opener (May 18). The Tigers are coached by Butch Thompson, who is in his second season at Auburn.

Ole Miss holds a slight advantage in the all-time series 85-84-1, gaining the edge by winning eight of the past 12 contests between the two divisional foes. The Rebels swept the Tigers in three-game sets at Swayze Field during the 2014 and 2016 campaigns. In 2015, Auburn took the opener before splitting a doubleheader to claim the series on its home diamond. The Tigers also took two-of-three games over the weekend to win the final SEC series of the season. Speaking of a split, each team one a game in the first series between the two back in 1938. In SEC Tournament play, Auburn leads the series 2-1. However, the Rebels won the last matchup (May 28, 2010), a 10-7 victory that lasted 10 innings.

The Rebels and Tigers will face on another in the SEC Tournament just three days after wrapping up a weekend series between the two SEC West foes. Auburn won the first two games by scores of 4-1 and 9-1, respectively, before Ole Miss claimed the series finale 8-4. Junior Tate Blackman led the Rebels by hitting .545 (6-for-11) with team highs in RBI (4) and runs (3). The majority of that offensive output came in the victory as the second baseman went 4-for-5 with three RBI and two runs. The last time Ole Miss opened up the conference tournament against the same opponent it concluded the regular season with was in 1995 versus Arkansas.

A career .269 hitter, sophomore Ryan Olenek steps up his game when facing the Auburn Tigers. In Saturday’s regular season finale, he went 3-for-5 with two doubles to help Ole Miss secure an 8-4 victory. The pair of doubles increased Olenek’s season total to a team-high 17. In his first season as a Rebel, Olenek found success against the 2016 Tigers as well. The Winter Springs, Florida native hit .357 (8-for-14) with three runs and six RBI throughout the three-game series. He started the weekend by leading Ole Miss to a 7-4 win in a three-hit performance that included a pair of RBI. After contributing another hit and run in game two, Olenek helped the Rebels rally from a five-deficit to close out the series. In the bottom of the ninth, he belted a three-run homer to tie the game before Ole Miss added another run in the frame to complete the comeback victory.

Ole Miss is making its 22nd appearance in the SEC Tournament and is looking for its third title. The Rebels captured the crown in 1977 and 2006, also finishing runner-up twice. The 1977 championship was part of the inaugural SEC Tournament which took place at Swayze Field. Under head coach Mike Bianco, Ole Miss has made the tournament in 15 of his 17 seasons guiding the program. Bianco has 24 SEC Tournament wins under his belt, the sixth-most in SEC history. Before the SEC grew to 14 teams in 2012-13, only eight teams qualified for the SEC Tournament, and the majority of those teams ended up making the NCAA Tournament. In last year’s tournament, the Rebels won their first three games to earn a spot in the semifinals before falling to No. 1 Texas A&M.

Two Rebels earned SEC Baseball accolades when the league office released their all-conference lists Monday afternoon. Third baseman Colby Bortles was named second team All-SEC, while left-handed pitcher Ryan Rolison found a spot on the Freshman All-SEC team. Bortles was a preseason second team All-SEC honoree, and the senior lived up to those expectations in his final season as a Rebel. Along with manning the hot corner, he leads the Rebels with 10 home runs and 42 RBI. A .270 hitter, Bortles also paces the team in multi-RBI games (12) over 54 starts. He’s hitting even better in SEC play with a .275 batting average. The Oviedo, Florida, native is the conference leader in sacrifice flies (7), which ranks 16th in the country. Playing in 212 games throughout his Ole Miss career, Bortles ranks 10th in program history with 153 RBI. A highly-touted All-American out of high school, Rolison began the season in the bullpen before emerging as a key piece to the Ole Miss rotation. The Jackson, Tennessee, native is 6-3 on the 2017 campaign with a 3.06 ERA over 61.2 innings. Among qualified pitchers, the southpaw has allowed the fifth-fewest runs (23) in the SEC. Out of 18 appearances, Rolison has started nine games. His best outing of the year was against Missouri (April 22), tossing 6.0 scoreless innings and allowing only one hit. Adding a career-high nine strikeouts in the start against the Tigers, Rolison earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors.

Don Kessinger, a two-sport All-American at Ole Miss before becoming a six-time All-Star in Major League Baseball, will be honored at the 2017 SEC Tournament as an SEC Baseball Legend May 23-28 at the Hoover Met in Hoover, Alabama. Kessinger is the second Rebel to earn the distinction of SEC Baseball Legend, joining 2014 honoree Jake Gibbs. Alongside Kessinger, the 2017 class features LSU’s Ben McDonald, Missouri’s Dave Silvestri and South Carolina’s Earl Bass. Kessinger excelled in both basketball and baseball for the Rebels from 1962-64, earning All-SEC and All-America honors in both sports. In basketball, he averaged 22.2 points per game to rank fourth in Ole Miss history as well as 11th with 1,553 career points. On the diamond, Kessinger’s feats were equally impressive. His .400 career batting average still remains No. 1 in the Ole Miss record book, an effort which is also sixth on the SEC career chart. Kessinger’s best year at the plate came in 1964 when he led the SEC by hitting .436, a performance which remains as the best single season effort in Rebel baseball history. His nine career triples and 44 career steals place him 10th on each Ole Miss all-time list. Following a successful collegiate career, Kessinger moved on to Major League Baseball where he put together an impressive 16-year career. He started with the Chicago Cubs in 1964 and played at Wrigley Field until 1975. During that time as the Cubs’ starting shortstop, Kessinger played in six All-Star Games, earned two Gold Glove Awards and set a then-Major League record for consecutive errorless games at shortstop with 54 in 1969. In his last season in MLB, 1979, Kessinger served as a player-manager for the White Sox.

At last year’s SEC Tournament, Colby Bortles was a doubles machine. The Oviedo, Florida, native produced four doubles and eight RBI throughout the Rebels’ four games, both team highs. Thanks to the strong week, Bortles was named to the SEC All-Tournament team.

The Rebels are 17-16 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, No. 10 Arkansas and No. 19 Texas A&M, while taking one game from No. 8 LSU, No. 19 Kentucky and No. 23 Auburn. 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.

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 32 of the Rebels’ last 34 games. The catcher caught 14 of those games behind the plate and has also started 18 games at first base. Since assuming starting duties, Fortes is hitting .343 (34-for-99). In 43 games this season, including 37 starts, he leads the team with a .319 batting average, including .337 in SEC play. 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).

The Ole Miss pitching staff has been efficient on the mound this season, ranking among the best in the nation. Individually, Colby Bortles is the SEC leader with seven sacrifice flies (16th nationally), while Dallas Woolfolk ranks 17th nationally with 12 saves.

Stat NCAA Rank SEC Rank
Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio                 3.19 3rd 1st
WHIP 1.21 13th 4th
Strikeouts/9 Innings 9.3 14th 3rd
Shutouts 6 19th 4th
Walks/9 Innings 2.93 20th 2nd

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 (42), home runs (10) and multi-RBI games (12). He has reached base in 20 of the last 22 games as well. Meanwhile, Blackman paces the team in runs (46), triples (4), slugging percentage (.533) and on base percentage (.423). He ranks top 15 in the SEC in all four categories, including second in triples. The two helped put away No. 19 Texas A&M in the series finale (May 14), 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. Over the weekend, Blackman hit .545 (6-for-11) against Auburn, tallying team highs in runs (3) and RBI (4).

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 17th 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 (67) and multi-hit games (19). The Columbus, Mississippi, native also ranks second on the team in batting average (.307), runs (39) and doubles (11). He hits even better in SEC play with a .322 average in conference games. Recording at least one hit in 19 of the last 22 games, Golsan is hitting at a .345 clip (30-for-87). 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 56 games (52 in right field, three in center field, one at first base).  

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 116-1 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 28-0 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 (45 starts), C Cooper Johnson (37 starts), SS Grae Kessinger (53 starts). Another freshman, 1B Cole Zabowski, has 24 starts under his belt. 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 (17 appearances), LHP Ryan Rolison (19 appearances) and RHP Houston Roth (17 appearances).

The 2017 season is the 17th year of Ole Miss Baseball led by Mike Bianco, the program’s all-time wins leader. With 662 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.






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