No. 9 Ole Miss Returns to the Diamond to Play Host to Tulane

Grae Kessinger. Photo by Steven Gagliano

The Ole Miss Rebels baseball team steps back on the diamond this weekend as they play host to the Tulane Green Wave in a three-game series tilt.

No. 9 Ole Miss comes in unblemished on the season with a 4-0 record. The diamond Rebels are coming off an 8-6, mid-week victory over the Memphis Tigers. Ole Miss’ Grae Kessinger and Nick Fortes combined for seven of the team’s 13 hits, highlighted by Fortes’ two home runs and six RBIs. Kessinger had a career-high, four-hit performance.

Tulane heads into the weekend 3-0 coming off a series with Wright State, a tough Horizon League team that won 38 games last year. The Green Wave returns just two position starters from that team and only one starting pitcher, welcoming in a total of 18 newcomers in 2018, nine of which are transfers.

At the plate, Tulane is led by junior OF Grant Witherspoon, a preseason All-AAC selection that hit .299 in 2017 with 36 RBIs and 67 hits. Sal Gozzo led the squad through three games with a .444 clip and two RBIs. Matt Rowland powered six RBIs off one home run in opening weekend as the Green Wave hit .260 as a team against Wright State. Last season, Tulane hit .266 with a .437 slugging clip and .349 OBP. Tulane lost its top three hitters from last season, all of which hit above .300. Last weekend, the Green Wave went 7 for 8 in steals after going 46 of 69 on the base paths one year ago.

Of the five pitchers who started at least eight games last year, Tulane returns three while losing two primary starters who combined for 11 of the wins. RHP Chase Solesky returns with the top ERA among starters from 2017 but came out of the bullpen last weekend. The rotation against Wright State included two newcomers in RHP Kaleb Roper (Friday’s starter) and RHP Ben White, who is not expected to start this weekend. Another newcomer in last weekend’s rotation and the expected starter for this Sunday is RHP Keagan Gillies. LHP Ross Massey is the lone returner in this weekend’s projected rotation. As a staff, the Green Wave totaled a 4.18 ERA with 16 strikeouts and 16 walks. Opposing hitters hit .208 against them with 20 hits in 28 IP.

Ole Miss and the Green Wave have met on the diamond 124 times prior to heading into this weekend with the Rebels leading the series 84-38-2. The last meeting took place two seasons ago in the NCAA Oxford Regional as Tulane came back to win the game in the 9th and ended Ole Miss’ postseason run.

The probable pitching match for this weekend shapes up like this as Tulane will call on the right arm of Kaleb Roper (Friday), LHP Ross Massey (Saturday) and RHP Keagan Gillies (Sunday). Coach Mike Bianco is going to send LHP Ryan Rolison (Friday), RHP Brady Feigl (Saturday) and RHP James McAuthor (Sunday) to the mound.

First pitch is slated for Friday at 4 p.m. The following games will be Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Keep up with all the latest on Ole Miss Baseball with HottyToddy.com.


Adam Brown is the sports editor of HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at adam.brown@hottytoddy.com.

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