SEC Tournament Begins for No. 4 Baseball
May 22, 2018

Ole Miss: LHP Ryan Rolison 
8-4, 3.95 ERA, 82.0 IP
Auburn: RHP Tanner Burns
5-4, 3.33 ERA, 67.2 IP

Date: May 23, 2018
First Pitch: ~1 p.m. CT
Location: Hoover, Alabama
Venue: Hoover Metropolitan Stadium (10,800)
Dimensions: LF-340, CF-405, RF-340
TV: SEC Network
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network
     David Kellum (Play-by-Play) 
     Keith Kessinger (Analyst)
Live Audio:
Live Stats:
Twitter Updates: @OleMissBSB
Series History: Ole Miss leads 88-85-1
Last Series: May 10-12; Ole Miss swept in Oxford
In Hoover: May 23, 2017; Auburn won 5-4

• No. 4 Ole Miss comes to Hoover as the SEC Western Division Champion and as the No. 2 seed by virtue of a head-to-head series win over the West’s co-champion Arkansas Razorbacks.
• The Rebels are making their 23rd SEC Tournament appearance and their 16th in 18 years under head coach Mike Bianco.
• Ole Miss closed the regular season with the most wins and the fewest losses in the SEC at 42-14, edging Florida at 41-15.
• The Rebels are a consensus top-five team, ranking No. 4 according to ESPN/USA Today, Baseball America, D1Baseball and NCBWA and No. 5 by Perfect Game as they look to secure one of the top eight national seeds.
• Five Rebels claimed All-SEC honors this week: Ryan Olenek (First-Team), Parker Caracci (Second-Team), Nick Fortes (Second-Team), Anthony Servideo (All-Freshman), Cole Zabowski (All-Defense).
• Ole Miss has scored 132 more runs on 114 more hits than in the 2016 regular season. The Rebel offense has added 24 more doubles, 24 more home runs and 128 more RBI, striking out 78 fewer times and increasing their team batting average by .050 points.
• Ole Miss is of four teams in college baseball to rank in the top 25 nationally in both batting average and fielding percentage.
• The Ole Miss offense ranks in the top 15 nationally in home runs (10th), slugging percentage (11th), runs scored (11th), hits (12th), batting average (13th) and doubles (13th).
• Every Rebel batter who has started a game has hit a home run this season. In total 14 different Rebs have gone yard this year.
• Of the Rebels’ 14 defeats this season, nine have come by two runs or fewer and 11 have come by a three-run margin or less.
• Of the Rebels’ 42 wins this season, 17 have been come-from-behind victories.
• The Rebel pitching staff is No. 1 in the SEC in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 2.90 and also leads the league with 539 total strikeouts.
Thomas Dillard has produced more runs than any other player in the SEC with a combined 111 RBI and runs scored.
• Of Parker Caracci’s 10 saves, eight have come with the go-ahead run on base or at the plate. Since March 15, 2014, the Rebels are 156-1 when leading going into the ninth inning.

Wednesday • 1 p.m. 

LHP Ryan Rolison (Ole Miss) | 8-4, 3.95 ERA, 82.0 IP
RHP Tanner Burns (Auburn) | 5-4, 3.33 ERA, 67.2 IP

• In three SEC wins away from home this season at Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and Alabama this season: 2.41 ERA, 18.2 IP, 14 H (6.7 H/9), 5 R, 25 K
• Against Auburn (May 10): 1-0, 6.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 K
• Nine starts with six or more strikeouts this season; eight with eight-plus strikeouts
• Fourth-most strikeouts in the SEC (98), 46th in the country
• Averaging 10.76 strikeouts per nine innings, sixth 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
•  2017 Freshman All-American (Collegiate Baseball)
•  Four different outlets have him No. 12 or higher in 2018 MLB Draft projections

• Auburn advanced to the second round of the SEC Tournament with a walk-off 4-3 win in 11 innings over No. 10 seed Kentucky in the first round.
• The Tigers are a balanced ballclub, batting .284 on the season with a team ERA of 4.19.
• Auburn entered the SEC Tournament at No. 1 in the league with 405 runs scored.
• Auburn is one of three teams in the nation with five players who have hit 10 or more home runs this season.
• Shortstop Will Holland paces the Auburn offense hitting .329 on the season with 11 home runs, including a leadoff home run in the first inning against Kentucky.
• Brendan Venter is one of three Tiger starters batting over .300 at .324 coming into the postseason to go with 43 RBI.
• Freshman Edouard Julien leads the Tigers with 14 home runs on the year and knocked home the game-winning run in the team’s first-round win over Kentucky.
• Tanner Burns boasts the second-best ERA in the Auburn starting rotation at 3.33 over 67.2 innings.
• Ole Miss roughed up Tanner Burns in Oxford earlier this season, scoring three runs on three hits and three walks, chasing the Auburn starter after just 1.2 innings.

Ole Miss leads the all-time series 88-85-1 over Auburn after sweeping the Tigers in Oxford earlier this month. Head coach Mike Bianco enters the SEC Tourney matchup at 32-24 against the Tigers in his career. Auburn eliminated Ole Miss from the SEC Tournament with a 5-4 win a year ago. 

Ole Miss is making its 23rd 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 16 of his 18 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 2016, the Rebels won their first three games to earn a spot in the semifinals before falling to No. 1 Texas A&M. Last year, the Rebels fell 5-4 in the opening round to Auburn to end their season.

Ole Miss secured a key SEC road series win at Alabama last weekend to capture the SEC West title, tying Arkansas atop the divisional standings at 18-12. By virtue of a head-to-head series win over the Hogs, Ole Miss earned the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament. This is the Rebels’ first SEC West crown since 2014, their 15th overall and their fourth under head coach Mike Bianco.

Ole Miss closed the regular season with the best record in the SEC at 42-14. The Rebels finished with more wins and fewer losses than any team in the conference. The Rebels boast the best win percentage in the league and the sixth-best in the nation, as well as the fourth-most wins in college baseball during the regular season, trailing Tennessee Tech (46), Clemson (43) and Stanford (43).

The Rebels broke the program record for the most wins in the regular season with 42, besting the previous mark of 40, a feat that was accomplished five times previously by an Ole miss team, all in the Mike Bianco Era. Ole Miss is one of just six schools in the nation that has recorded 40 or more regular-season wins in at least three of the last five years.

Ole Miss closed its regular-season home schedule with its highest average attendance in program history at 8,760, beating the previous record (8,579) by 181, set in 2016. The Rebels will close the season second in the nation in average and total attendance at 280,305, trailing just LSU nationally. Rebel Nation also broke the program’s single-game attendance record as 12,152 were on hand to see Ole Miss defeat LSU 9-8 in a Saturday Game 3 to win the series.

Ole Miss has won its last 11 series at Swayze Field. The Rebels have also won their last nine series against ranked teams in front of the Swayze Crazies. The Rebels closed their regular season at 28-4 at home this season, including a perfect 8-0 in midweek games.

Ole Miss earned five All-SEC honors at year’s end. Ryan Olenek led the way with a first-team All-SEC nod. Nick Fortes and Parker Caracci were named second-team All-SEC, while Anthony Servideo was named to the SEC’s All-Freshman team and Cole Zabowski was selected to the All-Defensive Team.

The Rebels tallied five SEC Weekly Honor this year as Tyler Keenan was named SEC Player of the Week in the penultimate week of the season. He’s the only freshman this season to win SEC Player of the Week, and he’s the first Rebel rookie to do it since Alex Presley in 2004. In April, Keenan was named Freshman of the Week in two straight weeks. 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.

Ryan Olenek was named a finalist for the Ferriss Trophy, which is awarded to the most outstanding college baseball player in Mississippi. Olenek won the fan vote, but Southern Miss ace Nick Sandlin took home the award.

Closer Parker Caracci was named SEC Pitcher of the Week after earning the save in all three of the Rebels’ wins. Caracci also earned Midseason All-American honors from Perfect Game/Rawlings and D1Baseball, and he was named to the Stopper of the Year watch list by the NCBWA.

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. This week, Feigl was also tabbed as the Golden Spikes Award Performance of the Week after going eight innings to outduel projected top MLB Draft pick Casey Mize of Auburn.

Senior Will Golsan was named a Senior CLASS Award candidate earlier in the season, though he did not make the final list.

Ole Miss is one of four teams in the country to rank in the top 25 nationally in both batting average and fielding percentage. The Rebels are 13th in the nation batting .303 and 24th with a .978 fielding percentage. On the defensive side, they’re on pace to break the school record of .976 set in 2012.

Ole Miss remains No. 1 in the SEC in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 2.90, good for ninth in the nation. The Rebels led the SEC in total strikeouts at 539, besting second-place Missouri by 14. The Rebels issued just 86 walks, the fifth-best figure in the league behind Florida, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Missouri.

Compared to last season, the Rebels have found another level of production at the plate. Through the regular season, Ole Miss scored 132 more runs on 114 more hits than a year ago. The Rebel offense has added 24 more doubles, 24 more home runs and 128 more RBI. Ole Miss has also struck out 78 fewer times than it did during the regular season in 2017. The Rebels hit .050 points better and slugged nearly .100 points better than they did a year ago.

Ole Miss is 11th in college baseball and second in the SEC in runs scored with 400.

Of the Rebels’ 42 wins this season, 17 have been come-from-behind victories. 

Of the Rebels’ 14 losses this season, 11 have come by three runs or fewer, and nine have come by either one or two runs.

Ole Miss closed its home midweek slate at a perfect 8-0. The Rebels finsihed 13-1 overall in midweek games matching their best midweek record of all-time, 13-1 (.929) set in 2002. 

The 2018 Ole Miss offense is on pace to be one of the program’s best. Hitting .303 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 .303, Ole Miss is up to first in the SEC and 13th in the nation. The Rebels rank in the top 15 nationally in seven offensive categories.

Ole Miss is No. 13 in the nation with 117 doubles on the year. The Rebels are No. 2 the SEC in that category behind Mississippi State (121). They’re No. 26 in the nation and third in the league with 2.09 doubles per game. Through the regular season in 2017, the Rebels had 93 doubles.

Ole Miss has been one of the best power-hitting teams in college baseball this season. The Rebels 10th in the nation and fourth in the SEC with 70 home runs on the season. The Rebels are No. 11 nationally in slugging percentage at .481. 

Thomas Dillard leads Ole Miss, with 12 homers on the year, while Nick Fortes follows just behind with 11. Cole Zabowski is next with nine to his name, while Chase Cockrell and Tyler Keenan are close behind with eight apiece, while. Four Rebels—Fortes, Dillard, Will Golsan and Chase Cockrell—boast multi-homer games this year. Cockrell has done it twice on the season. 

Freshman infielder Anthony Servideo notched his first career home run this week against Arkansas Pine Bluff, becoming the 14th Rebel to go yard this season. Every Rebel that has started this year has hit a home run.

Ole Miss has had a knack for two-out hitting this season. Of the Rebels’ 366 RBI, 129 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 77 two-out RBI. Seven Rebels have 10 or more two-out RBI this season, led by Will Golsan at 21, Cole Zabowski with 18 and Thomas Dillard with 17.

Ryan Olenek is swinging one of the hottest bats in college baseball this season. The junior out of Winter Park, Florida, leads the SEC and is No. 19 in the nation, batting .373 on the year. He hit .404 in conference play to earn first-team All-SEC honors. Olenek is the toughest player to strike out in the SEC, having struck out just 13 times in 204 at-bats for a K rating of 15.7.

Olenek recently wrapped up a 23-game hitting streak, spanning 49 days from March 22 to May 9. It was the second-longest all year in the conference behind Florida’s Jonathan India (24). During his hit streak, Olenek hit .516 with 48 hits, 18 runs scored, 17 multi-hit games, 10 doubles, just five strikeouts and an OPS of 1.228. 

In addition to a web-gem-filled season defensively at shortstop, sophomore Grae Kessinger has raised his level offensively. He’s hitting .306 on the season with 14 doubles, raising his batting average by .131 from his freshman to sophomore season.

Thomas Dillard delivered one of the biggest home runs of the 2018 season in Saturday’s Game 3 against LSU. With the Rebels trailing 7-6 in the seventh inning, Dillard fell behind 0-2 but worked a full count before blasting a three-run home run over the right field seating to give Ole Miss just what it needed in a 9-8 win.

It took Dillard just 21 games to eclipse his home run total from all of last season, now with 12 on the year. His longest blast of the year came against Eastern Illinois. It traveled an estimated 435 feet with an astounding exit velocity of 111.7 mph—the second-hardest-hit ball at Swayze Field this season. 

Dillard has produced more runs than any other player in the SEC with a combined 111 runs scored and batted in. Dillard is the only player in the SEC with more than 50 runs scored and batted in.

Tyler Keenan has been one of the top freshmen in the country this season, earning SEC Player of the Week this week as well as back-to-back SEC Freshman of the Week honors for Weeks 7 and 8. Keenan is the first Rebel to win FOTW in back-to-back weeks, and he joins Alex Yarbrough as just the second Rebel ever to win it twice. He’s the only freshman to win Player of the Week this season and is the first Rebel freshman to accomplish the feat since Alex Presley in 2004. The freshman out of Clayton, North Carolina, has also been outstanding defensively with just two errors on the year at the hot corner.

Cole Zabowski came through with a huge performance last weekend at Alabama. The sophomore first baseman hit .438 (7-for-16) with two doubles, two home runs and nine RBI. The Lawrenceville, Georgia, native hit .333 in conference play with six home runs this season—securing the team’s second-best batting average and tying for the most home runs in league play. 

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 a Tuesday night meeting with 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. That started a tremendous week in which Rowe went 8-for-14 (.571) with five doubles and three RBI. Rowe smoked a double down the right field line to score Tyler Keenan and fuel a five-run game-winning rally in the seventh inning of the Rebels’ 9-8 Game 3 win over LSU.

Fitzsimmons came through with a go-ahead pinch-hit double in the ninth inning in that midweek game against MSU, his second outstanding clutch performance off the bench this season. Fitzsimmons also blasted a pinch-hit grand slam against Texas A&M. His excellent pinch-hit resume grew again last week when he clubbed a two-RBI double to the warning track as part of a six-run eighth inning that put Auburn away and clinched a series sweep.

Fitzsimmons is batting .435 on the season after another strong performance last Tuesday against Arkansas State. He went 2-for-4 with a home run, now one of 11 Rebels with multiple homers this year.

After not making the 35-man roster in each of the last two seasons, Parker Caracci has been masterful in the closer role for Ole Miss this season. His 10 saves have him tied for the seventh-most in a single season in program history. Of those 10 saves, nine have come in SEC play and seven have come against ranked opponents. Caracci has struck out 29 over 17.1 innings in those appearances.

In eight of his 10 saves, the winning run has been on base or at the plate, including two with the winning run in scoring position. Eight of his saves have come with the tying run on base, including seven with the tying run in scoring position.

Will Ethridge came through with his second crucial long-relief outing of the season on Saturday against Auburn to clinch a series sweep. Ethridge inherited a bases-loaded, one-out situation and fanned two Tiger batters to escape the jam cleanly. He proceeded to throw six more innings of two-hit baseball, striking out a career-high 10 batters while walking just one. He became the first Rebel reliever to strike out 10 in a game since Scott Weathersby seated 10 against Vanderbilt in 2010.

Ethridge put together a similar performance against LSU, going 5.2 innings, allowing just one run to set the stage for a Rebel comeback in Game 3 to win the series.






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