Rebels usher in SEC play with 17-1 record

Ole Miss opens SEC play at Tennessee this weekend. Sudu Upadhyay previews in a podcast special to the Ole Miss Spirit. Notes on the series ahead included.

Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations:

Matchup: No. 8 Ole Miss (17-1) at Tennessee (11-5)

Date: March 18-20, 2016

Location: Knoxville, Tenn.

Venue: Lindsey Nelson Stadium

Capacity: 4,283

Television: SEC Network+

    Mike Keith, play-by-play

    Rusty Ensor, analyst

Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network

    David Kellum, play-by-play

    Keith Kessinger, analyst

Live Audio: OleMissSports.com

Series: Ole Miss leads 45-36-1

Last Series: April 3-5, 2015

        Oxford, Miss.

        Tennessee won 2-of-3  

QUICK HITS

- Ole Miss is 17-1 for the third time in school history, all under head coach Mike Bianco.

- The Rebels have won 12 straight games for the sixth time in program history.

- During the winning streak, Ole Miss is hitting .307 and holding a 1.82 ERA.

- Head coach Mike Bianco earned his 700th career victory and 600th at Ole Miss Friday night (3/11) versus Grambling; Bianco is now one of nine coaches in history to win 600 games at an SEC school.

- The Ole Miss bullpen holds a combined ERA of 1.25 with an SEC-leading seven saves this season.

- Rebel relivers have allowed just one earned run over the past 10 games, spanning 35.0 innings.

- Ole Miss is 10-0 when scoring in the first inning, outscoring the opposition 29-6. 

- The Rebels are hitting .330 with runners in scoring position, including .387 with the bases loaded. 

- Ole Miss ace Brady Bramlett leads the SEC with 17 strikeouts looking. 

- The Rebels begin SEC play on the road for the fourth straight year. 

- Ole Miss has won its first five road games for the third time in the last four seasons. 

- Colby Bortles and Will Golsan are riding hitting streaks of 10 and nine games, respectively.   

PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS

FRIDAY, 6 P.M.

Tennessee - Zach Warren, So., LHP, 4-0, 1.59 ERA

Ole Miss - Brady Bramlett, R-Jr., RHP, 4-0, 2.14 ERA

NOTING BRAMLETT:

- Tossed five scoreless innings versus Grambling, striking out 11 and not issuing a walk

- Struck out eight in a victory over No. 2 Louisville

- Pitched five scoreless innings to earn the opening day victory over FIU

- Named to the University of Mississippi Hall of Fame and 2015-16 Who’s Who among Students in American Universities and Colleges

- Serves as the vice-chair of the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC)

- Sings in the university choir and serves as the president of Ole Miss SAAC

SATURDAY, 3 P.M.

Tennessee - Hunter Martin, Jr., RHP, 2-0, 1.17 ERA

Ole Miss - Chad Smith, Jr., RHP, 2-1, 4.35 ERA

NOTING SMITH:

- Has won his last two starts for his first two victories as a Rebel

- Surrendered just two runs over 5.0 innings against No. 18 Coastal Carolina, earning his first win

- Tossed 7.0+ innings and allowed two earned runs versus No. 2 Louisville

- Selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 23rd round of the 2015 MLB Draft

- Named one of the top 150 MLB Draft prospects by Perfect Game

- Junior college transfer from Wallace State C.C. 

SUNDAY, 1 P.M. 

Tennessee - TBA

Ole Miss - Sean Johnson, R-Jr., RHP, 3-0, 1.80 ERA

NOTING JOHNSON:

- Has not allowed an earned run in his last 14.1 innings on the mound

- Allowed one hit over six scoreless innings versus Cincinnati, retiring the final 17 batters he faced

- Limited No. 2 Louisville to two runs over 5.1 innings to help the Rebels claim the series

- Earned a victory versus FIU, tossing 5.0 innings in his first start as a Rebel

- Coming off Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss nearly the entire 2015 season

- Named to the 2015 SEC Spring Academic Honor Roll

SCOUTING TENNESSEE

The Volunteers begin SEC play with an 11-5 record, winning four of their last five games. Tennessee has faced two non-conference opponents that the Rebels have also played in this young season. UT took two-of-three from Memphis to kick off the 2016 season and also beat Cincinnati in a midweek matchup. At the plate, Tennessee is hitting .320 as a team led by a pair of seniors in Jeff Moberg (.415) and Chris Hall (.404). Moberg, the team’s leadoff hitter, leads the conference with 28 runs scored. Junior Jordan Rogers has tallied 31 RBI to pace SEC hitters. On the mound, UT ace Zach Warren is 4-0 with a 1.59 ERA. Closer Jon Lipinksi has earned three saves in five apperances, holding opposing hitters to a .120 average. Tennessee is also a threat on the base path, swiping a SEC-best 36 stolen bases. The Volunteers are coach by Dave Serrano, who enters his fifth season at the helm of the SEC East program. 

SEEKING REVENGE

When the Rebels head to Knoxville, they’ll look to avenge last season’s series against the Volunteers. UT took two-of-three from Ole Miss in Oxford last season. It was the only weekend series the Rebels dropped at Swayze Field in 2015. Overall, Ole Miss leads the all-time series 45-36-1, including a 24-15 advantage under head coach Mike Bianco. 

SEC GRIND

Traditionally known as the best conference in college baseball, the SEC has once again lived up to that expectation again this season. In the USA TODAY coaches’ poll, eight SEC teams are ranked in the top 15, including five in the top 10. Florida, Vanderbilt and Texas A&M are the nation’s top-3 teams, while LSU comes in at No. 8 and Ole Miss at No. 10. The Rebels have fared well in the nation’s toughest conference over the years. Ole Miss has posted a .500-or-better SEC record in 12 of the last 15 season. To put that in terms of difficulty, the Rebels are just one-of-two SEC schools that have accomplished the feat. South Carolina has been .500-or-better in the SEC in 14 of the last 15 years. 

FRESHMAN ARMS LEAD THE WAY IN MIDWEEK SWEEP

Ole Miss held UAB to two runs in the pair of midweek contests, earning the series sweep. Young Rebel arms led the way on the mound. In the 8-1 game one victory, freshman Andy Pagnozzi earned the win in just his second career start. The right-hander went a career-long 6.1 innings and allowed just one run on two hits. He also struck out four and did not issue a walk during his quality outing. For the second straight day, a freshman dazzled as Ole Miss starting pitcher James McArthur allowed just one run on five hits to pick up his second victory in as many starts. The tall right-hander also struck out five and did not surrender a walk for the third consecutive outing. He turned the remainder of the game over to his fellow freshmen, Connor Green and Andrew Lowe, who allowed just one hit over four scoreless innings to complete the sweep.

FAST START

For the third time in school history, Ole Miss holds a 17-1 record. The Rebels have won 17 of their first 18 games all three times during the  Mike Bianco era, having accomplished the feat in 2004 and 2013. The 2013 Rebels got off to a 19-1 start, while the 2003 squad won 18 of the first 19 games of the season. 

BIG INNINGS

Ole Miss has put together big innings throughout the first quarter of the 2016 campaign. Six times this season, the Rebels have scored at least five runs in an inning. Ole Miss scored a season-high nine runs in the first inning versus FIU. Against Memphis, the Rebs used a seven-run third inning to rally from an early 6-0 deficit. At the Chanticleer Classic, six runs in the second helped Ole Miss roll to a 7-1 win over Cincinnati. Last weekend, the Rebels had a pair of five-run innings to cruise past Grambling in a weekend sweep. On Wednesday, five runs in the fifth inning were all Ole Miss needed to down UAB, 5-1.

BIANCO EARNS 700TH CAREER VICTORY

Head coach Mike Bianco, the winningest coach in Ole Miss Baseball history, collected his 700th career victory Friday night as Ole Miss cruised to a 15-2 win over Grambling. The win was also Bianco’s 600th as head coach of the Rebels. With the milestone victory, Bianco became just the ninth coach in NCAA Baseball history to earn at least 600 wins at an SEC school. Ole Miss has reached the 30-win plateau in each of Bianco’s previous 15 seasons, proving that the Rebels reload their roster, not rebuild. With 13 postseason appearances in 15 years, five Super Regional appearances over the last 11 years and a College World Series appearance in 2014, Ole Miss has continued to rank among the nation’s elite each season under Bianco. This season, the Rebels are off to a fast start, winning 15 of their first 16 games for the third time in school history and second under Bianco. 

SUPER SWEEPERS

The Rebels have broken out the brooms this season, earning three-game sweeps in three of the first four weekends of the season. Ole Miss swept 2015 NCAA Tournament team FIU to start the 2016 season. Two weeks later, the Rebels won all three games at the Chanticleer Classic in Conway, South Carolina. Over the weekend, Ole Miss swept Grambling by outscoring the Tigers a combined 28-6 during the series. In their two midweek series this season, the Rebels took a pair of games from both Southeast Missouri and UAB. 

NOT ON OUR WATCH

The tradition of great catchers at Ole Miss is well known, especially over recent history. Stuart Turner was a Johnny Bench Award winner and Will Allen was an All-American. Last year, Austin Knight threw out 17 baserunners. This season, a pair of Rebel catchers has combined in the effort to keep up the reputation. Opposing baserunners are just 9-for-17 in stealing bases against Ole Miss catchers in 2016. Junior Henri Lartigue has thrown out four runners on eight attempts, while freshman Nick Fortes has caught four stealing as well.  

WINNING STREAK STATS

Ole Miss has won at least 12 straight games for the sixth time in program history. The Rebel bats are averaging nearly seven runs and 10 hits per game. Hitting .307 as a team during the streak, Ole Miss has increased its season batting average a whopping 54 points. On the mound, the pitching staff holds a 1.82 ERA with 97 strikeouts during the 12-game stretch. The combination of hot bats and solid pitching has kept the Rebels on the victorious side of the scoreboard.

Longest Winning Streaks in Ole Miss Baseball History (Season Results)

            1. 17 games - 1960 (22-3, SEC Champions)

            t-2. 15 games - 1964 (24-7, SEC Champions, College World Series)

            t-2. 15 games - 1923 (18-3-1)

            t-3. 12 games - 2016 - (TBD)

            t-3. 12 games - 2013 - (38-24, NCAA Regional)

            t-3. 12 games - 2002 - 37-19, missed postseason)

BRINGING THE RELIEF

The Ole Miss bullpen has been a reliable force throughout the start of the 2016 campaign. As a group, the staff boasts a 5-0 record to go along with an SEC-best seven saves and a combined 1.25 ERA in relief appearances. Four Rebel relievers have a 0.00 ERA, including closer Wyatt Short, who ranks second in the SEC with four saves on the season. Sophomore Will Stokes adds a pair of saves to go along with a 1.23 ERA. Freshman Dallas Woolfolk has made five relief appearances without allowing a run and also has a save to his credit. David Parkinson has made a team-high eight appearances out of the ‘pen, boasting an impressive 0.82 ERA. Coming off Tommy John surgery, redshirt-freshman Brady Feigl is 1-0 with a 0.96 ERA in seven appearances. The excellent relief pitching has helped the Rebels get off to a 17-1 start and ride a 12-game winning streak. Over the past 10 games, the bullpen has allowed just one earned run, spanning 35.0 innings. 

STRIKING FIRST

Ole Miss wastes no time striking first, outscoring the opposition 29-6 in the first inning. The Rebels have scored in the opening frame 10 times this season, winning each one of those ballgames. The Rebels tallied 13 runs in the first inning on opening weekend, including nine in the series finale. The fast start gave the Rebels momentum in each game, helping lead to the series sweep of FIU. In the series opener versus No. 2 Louisville, junior J.B. Woodman belted a two-run homer to right field in the first, giving Ole Miss the early lead that it kept throughout the contest to hand the top-ranked Cardinals their first loss of the season. Facing another ranked team in No. 18 Coastal Carolina, the Rebels tallied three runs in the first inning to cruise to an 8-2 win on the road. In four of its past seven games, Ole Miss recorded runs in the first inning to grab control right from the start. 

ROAD WARRIORS

The first games away from home are always tests for teams. However, over recent history, Ole Miss has passed those tests. In three of the past four seasons, the Rebels have won their first five road games of each season. Ole Miss kicked off the 2013 campaign on the road and swept No. 12 TCU before winning three straight at FIU two weeks later. The Road to Omaha in 2014 began with the Rebels sweeping Stetson followed by two wins over Southeast Louisiana in their next road games. This season, Ole Miss went down to the Chanticleer Classic for its first games away from Swayze Field in 2016. Facing Ball State, No. 18 Coastal Carolina and Cincinnati, the Rebels won all three games. This week, Ole Miss kept the winning streak alive by sweeping UAB in a midweek series and continuing to take care of business on the road.

OLE MISS IN THE POLLS

Heading into the season, Ole Miss was only ranked in one top-25 poll. However, starting the season 17-1 and going 3-1 against ranked teams thus far, the Rebels have risen up the rankings. This week, Ole Miss cracked the top 10 in several polls, including its highest ranking of eighth by Collegiate Baseball. D1Baseball moved the Rebels up four spots to No. 9, while the ESPN/USA TODAY coaches poll tabbed them at 10th in the nation. Perfect Game agreed with the coaches, sliding the Rebels up to the No. 10 spot. Baseball America, the only publication listing Ole Miss in its top 25 all season long, ranks the Rebels at No. 12. 

BRAMLETT ELECTED TO HALL OF FAME, WHO’S WHO HONOREE

While on the road with the team, starting pitcher Brady Bramlett received some major recognition on campus. A redshirt-junior on the field but a senior academically, Bramlett was named to the 2015-16 University of Mississippi Hall of Fame. The Bartlett, Tennessee native was one of 10 seniors throughout the entire university that earned the honor. He was also just the first student-athlete elected into the university’s hall of fame since Maggie McFerrin of women’s basketball (2013). Bramlett was selected based on his academic achievement, community service and potential for future success. He represents the SEC and serves as the Vice-Chair of the NCAA National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and is a representative on the NCAA Strategic Vision and Planning Committee, a subcommittee of the NCAA Division I Council. Bramlett is also a representative on the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee. Bramlett’s busy schedule off the field includes serving as president of the Ole Miss SAAC, singing in the university choir and working towards his degree as a biological science major. He also donates his time to the community, going to local elementary schools as part of the Reading with the Rebels program. Along with his hall of fame induction, Bramlett was also chosen to represent Ole Miss on the 2015-16 Who’s Who among Students in American Universities and Colleges.

ON DECK

Following their longest road trip of the season, the Rebels return to the friendly confines of Swayze Field for four games next week. First, Ole Miss hosts UT Martin in a Tuesday morning matchup, March 22. First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m. CT. South Carolina comes to town for the Rebels’ first SEC home weekend, March 24-26.


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