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Rebels Set To Battle Pair Of Rivals In Four-Game Week

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After blazing through a stretch of seven games against top 15 opponents at 5-2, No. 3 Ole Miss is now facing a week in which it will play teams it is extremely familiar with and teams it considers its rival. The Rebels will trek to Memphis Wednesday night for a game against the Tigers at AutoZone Park before heading to Starkville for the weekend set against Mississippi State.

Mike Bianco made a minor tweak to his rotation to begin this week by flipping Ryan Rolison and Brady Feigl to have Feigl pitch on Friday night and Rolison on Saturday. Bianco pointed to Feigl's dominance on the mound through the season's first seven weeks as the reason for the switch.

"Brady has pitched so well," Bianco said. "Ryan hasn't pitched bad, just maybe not as dominant as Brady through the seven starts, and I thought this was the right time to do it, especially with the way the weeks fell to give him normal rest."

The Rebel skipper wanted it known that this is a fluid situation, as are most lineup-related things with any ball club over the course of a 56-game slate.

"Someone asked me this morning if it was permanent," Bianco said. "Nothing is permanent. The rotation is what it is this week, same with the lineup. Ryan understands and Brady understands. To use Ryan's quote from the beginning of a press conference, 'We have three Friday night guys throwing.' We are just trying to win baseball games and put the guy in there who is throwing the best."

Feigl has been lights-out this season, benefitting from improved slider command and being aggressive with hitters. The junior right-hander is 6-1 with a 2.23 ERA and has been good virtually every time he has grabbed the baseball this season.

For Rolison, it's just been a couple of minor mistakes that have led to innings slipping away from him. Bianco didn't seem too concerned with the recent minor struggles of his uber-talented left-hander and thinks he will get back on track this weekend in Starkville.

"Most of his outings it has just been an inning or two," Bianco said. "To be honest it has been mostly good fortune or bad fortune, however you want to say it. Not taking anything away from Arkansas, but a couple home runs that aren't usually home runs on this field and a tough first inning where he made a couple bad pitches with two strikes and they get base hits and score a couple runs. Ryan has given us great efforts."

Ole Miss wasn't lacking for confidence going into the daunting stretch it just came out of, but it only grows with each win. Bianco is pleased with how his team has found a multitude of ways to win baseball games and thinks that is evidence of a sense of toughness and maturity good teams in the SEC are equipped with year-in and year-out.

"I don't know if I learned more, but it really hammered home the feeling that we are tough," Bianco said. "They have won a lot of different types of games, games where they have had to score, where they have had to pitch and defend. We have fallen behind where we came back. We've won where we had a lead and held on."

Perhaps the most glaring piece of evidence to Bianco's point is how his team has responded when things haven't gone their way.

"It is not like we've had everything go our way," he said. "Certainly, we have had good fortune like everyone, but we also have had instances the other way, whether it is a call or a 50-50 pitch that maybe didn't go our way, but we have handled it. That is my takeaway. They've shown a lot of maturity and toughness that you need to have in our league."

Ole Miss begins this stretch of rivalry games on Wednesday and doesn't expect any letdown after its grueling late-March schedule. Bianco said his team is well-aware of the importance of each game, particularly when the opponent is in their backyard.

"The thing we want to do is play well," Bianco said. "If we do that everything will take care of itself. It is not foolproof. You can play well and lose, but you have a much better chance of winning. I hope that is the mindset because that is what has gotten us to this point. This week we are playing teams that are our rival. Anytime you play your rival it is a big game."

Houston Roth will get the baseball against Memphis Wednesday. First pitch from Autozone Park is slated for 6:30 p.m. CT.

Feigl Continues Dominance as Rebels Even Series


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Mike Bianco balked on declaring Brady Feigl's 6.1 inning, nine-strikeout outing on Saturday against Tennessee his best one, but that's mostly because there have been ample to choose from.

The junior right-hander has been consistently dominant sandwiched in the middle of a lethal weekend rotation. He improved to 5-0 on the season by stifling the Volunteers in a 7-1 Ole Miss win, scattering four hits over six-plus innings with his only blemish coming on a first-pitch fastball to Justin Ammons in the sixth.

"It's hard to say it is the best because he has been so, so sharp," Bianco said. "It's hard to be critical of what he just did, locating the fastball on both sides of the plate and to throw all three pitches. Even today he used the change up a bit. I am proud of him. I am proud of this effort."

Feigl fanned nine hitters and walked just one. He's struck out 34 and walked three batters this season, a remarkably consistent pace at this juncture in the season. As Bianco alluded to, he's been able to work his fastball on both sides of the plate and compliment it with a change up. But it has been the slider that has been the catalyst to all of those swings-and-misses.

"I have been able to funnel it in more," Feigl said. "It is playing up my other pitches. With Fortes or Cooper behind the plate, they make them look a lot better back there."

The pitch is one that's always been the wipeout call for Feigl, but also one in the past he has struggled to harness consistent command for. Before the season started he mentioned that pitch as being a large factor in his consistent success. He is in full control of it and is reaping the benefits of its bite.

"The slider is such a swing-and-miss pitch," Bianco said. "I thought at times last year he just couldn't get it in the zone enough. It doesn't make for a bad year. It just makes for him to sometimes to be on his heels. This year it is obviously in the zone a lot more. It has helped his other pitches. It has helped him be more free with his fastball and freedom to use his change up like he did today."

Ole Miss hasn't been punched in the mouth often this year, once in the series opener at Long Beach State and once on Friday night to open this SEC series, but each time Feigl has led the charge in issuing a responding blow. He's connected each time.


"That's why we do it," Feigl said. "That's why we go out there to Long Beach.. The biggest thing is to be able to punch back. It's swing day. It's the offense, the defense and the pitching. We did that today."

There wasn't much stress on his shoulders today due to his brilliance, but the made pitches to get off the field when trouble beckoned. A fastball inside in the sixth inning induced an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play to escape a bases loaded no outs jam. A similar situation to what Ole Miss found itself in in the seventh inning of Friday's game. Tennessee was able to get two hits and take control of the game. Today, the Rebels thwarted any momentum it could've gained.

"That's huge," Bianco said. "Those are game winners. You look back at those plays and wonder what a difference that would made. Last night they hit a double in the gap and today they would've been back in it. Those are huge plays."

Feigl jogged off the right side of the mound with a fist pump as demonstrative and precise as his arsenal of pitchers were on this Saturday afternoon.

"Feigl is terrific," Grae Kessinger said. "You know what you're going to get and it is just fun to watch him do his thing."

Kessinger had a three-hit day to bring his hit total to six on the weekend and helped Ole Miss ambush Tennessee starter Garrett Stallings by putting up two runs in the second, one in the third and three in the fourth. Jacob Adams roped two extra-base hits down the right field line in the second and fourth innings that produced 3 RBIs and gave Feigl a cushion. Kessinger had two RBIs himself and is now hitting .393 on the season. The Rebels evened the series at one apiece.

James McArthur will go tomorrow in the rubber game at noon.

SIDEBAR: Ole Miss Takes Two from Tulane

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It was not quite the typical day at the ballpark for No. 9 Ole Miss, but it was certainly an efficient one as the Rebels put two in the win column over Tulane after Friday night's game was postponed in the fifth inning due to rain.

Game one of this series resumed at noon Saturday with Ole Miss clinging to a 2-1 lead. Will Ethridge replaced Ryan Rolison because of the overnight delay and put up scoreless sixth and seventh innings while Cole Zabowski and Cooper Johnson put a pair of 1-0 offerings in the seats in the bottom of the seventh for some needed insurance. Zabowski sent a fastball over the center field wall and Johnson placed a breaking ball in the Ole Miss bullpen in left field as part of a three-run inning that resulted in a 5-1 lead for the Rebels.

Ethridge ran into some trouble in the eighth when back-to-back doubles turned into a three-run shot from Matt Rowland that made it a 5-4 game, but Will Stokes and Dallas Woolfolk put the clamps on the Green Wave rally and secured the final six outs Ole Miss needed for the win.

After a 45 minute intermission between games, Ole Miss put up arguably its most efficient win of the year in which the offense exploded for nine runs and Brady Feigl turned in six innings of two-hit ball on just 73 pitches. Fiegl overcame an unearned run in a first inning that saw him strike out all three hitters and put together as efficient of an outing as he's had during his career.

"I think efficient is not even fair," Mike Bianco said. "He was super dominant against what I consider to be a good offense. It was a tough day to pitch with the wind gushing out and I thought he was electric, maybe the best outing he has had here and that is saying a lot."

The junior righty found his slider in the early innings and mixed the changeup in during the second and third time through the order. Feigl moved to 2-0 on the season.

"A big part of what they talked to me about is attacking the zone and trying to get ahead because it makes things a lot easier," Feigl said. "I think it definitely helped."

Oddly enough, Feigl's exit was due mostly to a long, five-run sixth inning the offense put together that blew the ballgame open. He certainly did not mind.

"When your offense does that it is hard to complain," Feigl said with a grin.

That's been the story in five of the six games the Rebels have played this season. The offense has backed the pitching staff with ample breathing room to operate, and the most encouraging sign to Bianco is that it is coming from all over. It's started at the top of the order with Grae Kessinger's 11 hits in six games. Kessinger homered in the bottom of the first in game two and sent a double off the left-center wall that brought another run across in the fifth. The sophomore shortstop has been as productive as Bianco could possibly ask for in the leadoff slot through six games. 

Kessinger has taken an aggressive approach of jumping on fastballs early in counts and it's paid dividends.

"I am seeing it well and being aggressive," Kessinger said. "My swing feels good and it is all just working right now. Everything is going well and I just want to stick to my approach and keep being aggressive."

He's seeing pitches when he needs to, though. He worked a full count walk in the first game and has only struck out twice in 18 at-bats so far this year.

"I thought him answering in the first inning after we went down was huge," Bianco said. "He has had a lot of big hits for us early on this season."

Zabowski homered for the second time this year and Johnson's was the first of his career. Chase Cockrell went 2-for-3 in game two. He and Zabowski are a couple of batters in the middle of the Ole Miss order that have shown some pop along with Tim Elko and Tyler Keenan, which encouraged the Ole Miss head coach.

"You're expecting that from some of those young guys in Elko and Keenan," Bianco said. "We have some physical hitters in the middle there. He is off to a good start and swinging it well."

Aside from a lapse or two in a couple innings, Ole Miss has defended well this year and particularly this weekend. Thomas Dillard, Will Golsan and Olenek made plays that potentially saved runs in the outfield. Fortes started a huge 3-6-1 double play that got the Rebels out of a slippery spot in a one-run contest in the eighth inning of game one.

"I thought we were outstanding on defense," Bianco said. "One of the things I challenged and we wanted to improve was outfield defense. It's not that we were bad but the great teams have difference makers out there. We have a catcher and two shortstops out there and they make the regular play. Today, they made some great plays with Golsan making a couple of sensational plays as did Olenek, and Thomas made a great play on Friday night. Those change the game."

First pitch for game three is slated for game three is slated for 1:30 p.m. CT on Sunday.
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    Tiffany J. Moore said:

    This is amazing with what he have done so far! Hope that he'll achieve more in the future!

    in post Evan Engram Hauls in Midseason Accolades

    Fiftyyears fan said:

    How can you have five straight top 25 recruiting classes and look as bad as Ole Miss has this year. Easy lack of coaching fundamentals. Look at Mason at Vandy, nothing but 2 and 3 star recruits out of high school and he developers players that want to win. Hugh freeze has 3, 4 & 5 recruits and he expects them to win because of what they were in High School. Mr. Freeze you have not been teaching the fundamentals of football or winning in life. Mr. Freeze you have quit on your players because you have some false expectations of what they are instead of what you can develop in them. Either do your job or quit. Oh yea, please quit running your smoke and mirrors offense, everyone has figured it out. Run a physical offense that can open up holes for your running backs and then your pass attack want require 12 are 14 four and five star receivers. Mr. Freeze you have problems and you need to know that you are not smarter than the rest of the coaches in the SEC.

    in post Rebels Unable to Send Senior Class Out on a High Note

    Karen Holden said:

    Not every pass can be caught. Too low, too short whatever. Not every Kelly pass is perfect. Records were broken by receivers also. But they sre not going to catch every ball thrown. The loss to Auburn was not one players fault. You win or lose as a team.

    in post Late Mistake Spoils Chad Kelly's Historic Performance

    Trent browning said:

    Hey I was just wandering if these are the only 2 olemiss players signing. If there are more signing please respond to me ASAP. Also wondering if neil everett will sign any autographs. Thank you very much

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