NCAA TOURNAMENT - OXFORD REGIONAL
Dates: June 1-4, 2018
Location: Oxford, Mississippi
Venue: Swayze Field (10,715)
Dimensions: LF-330, CF-390, RF-330
TV: SEC Network/SECN+
Sam Ravech (Play-by-Play)
Ben McDonald (Analyst)
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network
David Kellum (Play-by-Play)
Keith Kessinger (Analyst)
Live Audio: OleMissSports.com
Live Stats: OleMissSports.com
Twitter Updates: @OleMissBSB
Series vs. Saint Louis: Ole Miss leads 7-1
Series vs. Missouri State: Missouri State leads 3-1
Series vs. Tennessee Tech: Ole Miss leads 3-0
Ole Miss in NCAA Tournament: 52-46 (.531)
OXFORD REGIONAL SCHEDULE
Friday, June 1
Game 1: #2 Tennessee Tech vs. #3 Missouri State
2 p.m. CT (SEC Network+)
Game 2: #1 Ole Miss vs. #4 Saint Louis
6:30 p.m. CT (SEC Network)
Saturday, June 2
Game 3: Losers of Game 1 and 2
Noon CT (TBD)
Game 4: Winners of Game 1 and 2
6 p.m. CT (TBD)
Sunday, June 3
Game 5: Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4
1 p.m. CT (TBD)
Game 6: Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5
5 p.m. CT (TBD)
Sunday, June 4
Game 7: Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6
6 p.m. CT (If Necessary)
• No. 4 Ole Miss enters the Oxford Regional as the SEC Tournament Champion, SEC West Regular-Season Champion and No. 4 national seed with the best record in the conference at 46-15. The Rebels have more wins than any team in program history going into the NCAA Tournament and are two wins shy of the all-time record of 48.
• Ole Miss is making its 22nd NCAA Tournament appearance and has made the postseason for the 16th time during 18 seasons in the Mike Bianco Era. All eight of the Rebels’ regional host bids have come during Bianco’s tenure. Ole Miss has made five Super Regionals and advanced to the College World Series five times (1956, 1964, 1969, 1972 and 2014). The Rebels have advanced to at least the Regional Championship game in seven of their last 10 appearances.
• The Rebels enter the postseason with tied for their highest ranking in program history at No. 2 according to NCBWA. Ole Miss is a consensus top-five team, at No. 3 according to D1Baseball and Perfect Game and No. 4 according to Baseball America and ESPN/USA Today.
• Ole Miss is on a four-game win streak, reeling off four straight victories to claim the SEC Tournament title. The championship run saw Nick Fortes named SEC Tournament MVP. He was joined by Will Golsan and Thomas Dillard on the All-Tournament team.
• Rebel upperclassmen were a combined 37-for-110 (.336) with 17 runs scored, 16 RBI, five doubles and four home runs over five SEC Tourney games, led by Fortes and Golsan, who were a combined 20-for-40.
• Rebel hitters leading off an inning went 26-for-48 (.542) in the SEC Tournament, including 6-for-9 in the championship game.
• Ole Miss starting pitching accumulated a 1.28 ERA over 28.2 innings of work in the SEC Tournament. As a whole, the Ole Miss pitching staff combined for a 2.15 ERA in Hoover.
• Ole Miss scored 132 more runs on 114 more hits than in the 2016 regular season. The Rebel offense 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 three Power 5 teams to rank in the top 50 nationally in batting average, fielding percentage and ERA.
• The Ole Miss offense ranks in the top 15 nationally in hits (8th), doubles (8th), runs scored (11th), slugging percentage, (11th), home runs (11th) and batting average (14th).
• 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’ 15 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’ 46 wins this season, 20 have been come-from-behind victories.
• The Rebel pitching staff is No. 1 in the SEC and No. 8 in the NCAA in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 2.87 and also leads the league with 582 total strikeouts. Ryan Rolison is second in the SEC with 107 strikeouts on the year.
• Thomas Dillard has produced more runs than any other player in the SEC with a combined 120 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 159-1 when leading going into the ninth inning. Caracci was named second-team All-American by Baseball America this week.
Friday • 6:30 p.m.
RHP Ryan Rolison (Ole Miss) | 9-4, 3.79 ERA, 90.1 IP
RHP Miller Hogan (Saint Louis) | 10-3, 2.19 ERA, 102.2 IP
• Last appearance: Came on in relief in the SEC Championship game against LSU, struck out three and allowed zero runs on no hits and one walk.
• Last start: Allowed two runs on three hits, three walks in 6.1 innings, striking out six in SEC Tournament opener against Auburn. Earned no-decision in Rebels’ 9-3 defeat.
• In non-conference games this season: 6 APP, 5 GS, 4-1, 32.0 IP, 2.25 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 41 K
• 10 starts with six or more strikeouts this season; eight with eight-plus strikeouts
• Second-most strikeouts in the SEC (107), 37th in the country
• Averaging 10.66 strikeouts per nine innings, sixth-most 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
OLE MISS VS. REGIONAL VISITORS
Ole Miss is a combined 11-4 all-time against its three regional opponents. The Rebels are 1-3 against Missouri State, they’re 3-0 against Tennessee Tech and 7-1 against Saint Louis. The Rebels last played MSU in 2005, where they picked up their only win in the all-time series, 6-4. Ole Miss last played the Golden Eagles in 2003, a 4-1 midweek win for Ole Miss—the only meeting with TTU during the Mike Bianco Era. The other two contests came in the postseason as Ole Miss won 4-3 and 3-2 in the 1956 NCAA District III Playoffs. Ole Miss last met Saint Louis on May 1, 2013, edging the Billikens 8-7 in 11 innings in Oxford. The Billikens’ only win in the series came in a 15-11 shootout in Oxford in 2009. The Rebels exacted revenge with a 14-5 win the following year. Ole Miss took two from Saint Louis in 2006, sweeping a season-opening doubleheader. Like in 2018, the Rebs went on to win the SEC Tournament that season. Ole Miss is 4-1 against SLU in the Bianco Era. Prior to that, the Rebels took two meetings in 1994 and one in 1983.
Ole Miss is making its 22nd NCAA Tournament appearance and has made the postseason for the 16th time during 18 seasons in the Mike Bianco Era. All eight of the Rebels’ regional host bids have come during Bianco’s tenure. Ole Miss has made five Super Regionals and advanced to the College World Series five times (1956, 1964, 1969, 1972 and 2014). Ole Miss has advanced to at least the Regional Championship game in seven of their last 10 appearances.
LOOKING GOOD, SAINT LOUIS
Saint Louis won both the Atlantic 10 Regular Season and Tournament titles in 2018 and are 9-1 in their last 10. Last week in Arlington, Va., the Billikens won three straight games, including a come-from-behind 5-4 win in 11 innings over George Mason on Saturday, May 26. The Billikens enter the Oxford Regional with one of the top starting rotations in the nation. Saint Louis features three starters with nine wins or more, two of which are 10-game winners in Miller Hogan and Drew Reveno. The Billikens join Stetson as the only two programs with two, 10-win starters. They also join New Mexico State as the only programs with three starters with nine wins or more. Hogan, who will get the ball on Friday, enters as the All-Time record holder for strikeouts in a season with 129, a record which stood for 53 years at 120 until his start on Thursday in Arlington. He is holding batters to a .196 batting average and is ranked fourth in the nation in strikeout-walk ratio (10.75). Jake Garella has become one of the top players in the Atlantic 10 in just his sophomore season. The right fielder is hitting .362 entering the NCAA Regional.
SCOUTING DA BEARS
Missouri State enters the Oxford Regional with an overall postseason mark of 21-22 as a Division I program. MSU has won at least one game in each of its last eight NCAA Regional appearances dating back to 1996, claiming two or more victories in seven of those trips to the postseason. MSU has 20 come-from-behind victories this year and 79 total comeback wins since the start of the 2015 season. MVC Tourney MVP Ben Whetstone brings a 10-game hit streak into the postseason, hitting .375 with 12 RBIs. Dylan Coleman ranks 13th nationally with 122 strikeouts this spring and second on MSU’s career K’s list (310). In 11 games since May 6, Matt Brown has hit seven homers, driven in 14 runs and scored 15 more. Missouri State’s bullpen has closed out 151 consecutive victories — including 32 this season — after the Bears have taken a lead into the ninth inning, dating back to May 2014. MSU is 11-1 in one-run games, with Connor Sechler posting a 4-0 mark and three saves in those contests.
GOLDEN EAGLES FLYING HIGH
Tennessee Tech enters the NCAA Tournament with an Ohio Valley Conference-record 48 wins, which includes a program and OVC-record 28-game winning streak. The Tennessee Tech offense has been firing at a historic pace all season, currently leading all of Division I baseball in batting average, hits, home runs, home runs per game, on-base percentage, runs, scoring, slugging percentage and win/loss percentage. Tech also ranks sixth nationally in doubles and doubles per game, and seventh in base on balls. On May 6, at Belmont, Tech broke the program record for runs scored in a single season, set by the 2017 Golden Eagle program. This year, the Golden Eagles have already scored 596 runs, a pace of 10.5 runs per game. This season, the explosive lineup has erupted to plate at least five runs in a single inning 27 times. The Golden Eagles have scored in double figures 27 times in 2018, including 11 games of 15+ runs and four occasions of 20+.
SEC TOURNEY CHAMPS
Ole Miss enters the NCAA Tournament as one of the hottest teams in college baseball after reeling off four straight wins to claim the third SEC Tournament title in program history.
The Rebels were the No. 2 seed in the conference championship but fell in their opening game. They were leading Auburn 2-0 much of the way, but the Tigers exploded for nine runs in the final three innings for a 9-3 win. Ole Miss nearly suffered a similar heartbreak the following day, leading Georgia for much of the afternoon until a throwing error by Parker Caracci in the eighth sent it to extra innings. Aside from the error, Caracci was electric, striking out seven in 3.1 innings to give Ole Miss a chance. The Bulldogs took a 4-3 lead on a solo home run in the 10th, but the Rebels stormed back, claiming a victory on a walk-off single by Tim Rowe. After the dramatic win, the Rebels were a different team.
Ole Miss blasted Auburn 7-0 the next day behind a combined shutout from James McArthur, Max Cioffi and Austin Miller. Thomas Dillard, Chase Cockrell and Jacob Adams all homered to eliminate the Tigers. In the semifinals, the Rebels got another masterful pitching effort by freshman Jordan Fowler, who outdueled Texas A&M ace Mitchell Kilkenny. Ole Miss plated two runs in the fourth, which was enough after Will Ethridge allowed just one run on two hits in the final three innings of the 2-1 win.
The SEC Championship game was all Ole Miss. LSU scored the game’s first run, but the Rebels dominated the rest of the way. The Rebel pitching staff was lights-out once again as Houston Roth, Will Stokes, Ryan Rolison and Greer Holston combined to hold a hot LSU offense to just one run on four hits. Meanwhile, the Rebel offense feasted on the Tiger pitchers at week’s end in Hoover. Nick Fortes led the way with four hits and two runs scored, while Will Golsan had three hits, scored two runs and drove in two, including a two-run single that broke the game open in the seventh. Tim Rowe followed just behind with a home run in that inning, and Michael Fitzsimmons went yard on the ninth to drive the final nail in the coffin.
Nick Fortes earned SEC Tournament MVP honors, and Golsan and Thomas Dillard joined him on the All-Tournament Team.
Only three Ole Miss starters entered the SEC Tournament with batting averages below .300, and two of those left Hoover with averages above that threshold. Nick Fortes went 10-of-18 (.556) with five runs scored and is now batting .320 on the season. Will Golsan was 10-of-22 (.455) to push his average to .303. Rebel upperclassmen were a combined 37-for-110 (.336) with 17 runs scored, 16 RBI, five doubles and four home runs over five SEC Tourney games.
Rebel hitters leading off an inning went 26-for-48 (.542) in the SEC Tournament, including 6-for-9 in the championship game. Meanwhile, Ole Miss starting pitching accumulated a 1.28 ERA over 28.2 innings of work in the SEC Tournament. As a whole, the Ole Miss pitching staff combined for a 2.15 ERA in Hoover.
HOW THE WEST WAS WON
Ole Miss secured a key SEC road series win at Alabama in the final week of the regular season 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.
ON THE RECORD
Ole Miss enters the postseason with most wins and fewest losses in the SEC at 46-15. The Rebels have the second-most wins in college baseball, behind only one of its regional visitors, Tennessee Tech at 48-9. Ole Miss has the best win percentage among SEC teams and the seventh-best in the nation at .754. The Rebels’ 46 wins are the most ever by an Ole Miss team going into the NCAA Tournament. They’re just two wins shy of tying the all-time single-season record.
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 three teams from Power 5 conferences to rank in the top 50 nationally in batting average, ERA and fielding percentage. Ole Miss is 14th in hitting, 43rd in ERA and 37th in fielding. Oregon State is third in batting, 23rd in ERA and 11th in fielding, while Minnesota is 16th in hitting, 10th in ERA and 50th in fielding. On the defensive side, Ole Miss is on pace to break the school fielding percentage record of .976 set in 2012, currently at .977 on the season.
STRIKE NO. 1
Ole Miss remains No. 1 in the SEC in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 2.87, good for eighth in the nation. The Rebels led the SEC in total strikeouts at 582. The Rebels are 13th nationally and first in the SEC in strikeouts per nine innings at 9.7. Ole Miss also ranks in the top 50 nationally in walks-per-nine (43rd), ERA (43rd) and WHIP (46th).
REBS RAISE THE BAR
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.
REBS ARE RUNNIN’
Ole Miss is 11th in college baseball and second in the SEC in runs scored with 426.
DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK
Of the Rebels’ 46 wins this season, 20 have been come-from-behind victories.
Of the Rebels’ 15 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 finished 13-1 overall in midweek games matching their best midweek record of all-time, 13-1 (.929) set in 2002. Ole Miss is 28-3 in non-conference games this season.
OLE MISS MASH
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. 8 in the nation and No. 1 in the SEC with 127 doubles on the year. They’re No. 24 in the nation and third in the league with 2.08 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 are 11th in the nation and fourth in the SEC with 76 home runs on the season. The Rebels are No. 11 nationally in slugging percentage at .479.
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 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.
RALLY ON TWO
Ole Miss has had a knack for two-out hitting this season. Of the Rebels’ 389 RBI, 133 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 83 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.
OLEY DOESN’T MISS
Ryan Olenek is swinging one of the hottest bats in college baseball this season. Olenek is the toughest player to strike out in the SEC and the 19th-toughest in the nation, having struck out just 16 times in 223 at-bats for a K rating of 13.9.
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 .304 on the season with 16 doubles and seven home runs. The Oxonian has raised his batting average by .129 from his freshman to sophomore season.
Thomas Dillard has produced more runs than any other player in the SEC with a combined 120 runs scored and batted in. He 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 13 on the year. His longest recorded 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.
Cole Zabowski came through with a huge performance in the last weekend of the regular season 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.
KEENAN IS KEY
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.
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. Rowe added to his lore with a game-winning single in the third round of the SEC Tournament in extra innings to beat Georgia.
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. Fitzsimmons added another clutch bomb to his resume during the SEC Tournament with a game-sealing home run in the title game.
CARACCI IN THE CLUTCH
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.
Behind Caracci, Ole Miss is one save shy of the most in team history (21).