Ole Miss baseball looks to improve win streak to 8-0 today against Murray State

Posted on Feb 27 2018 - 7:57am by Caroline McCray

Ole Miss baseball is looking to extend its unbeaten streak to 8-0 as it takes on the Murray State University Racers at Swayze Field at 4 p.m. today.

Entering the third week of the season, the Rebels are currently 7-0 and sit alongside Auburn, Alabama and Texas A&M as the only remaining undefeated teams in the SEC. This also marks the second year in a row that head coach Mike Bianco’s team has started the season with a seven-game win streak.

James McArthur (26) pitches to a Tulane opponent during the 6-3 win over Tulane Sunday. The Rebels swept the series this weekend and will face Murray State Tuesday. Photo by Marlee Crawford

After squeaking out a rain-delayed first game of the series by only one run, Ole Miss won all three games in its series against Tulane over the weekend. Sweeping the Green Wave with a combined score of 20-8, the Rebels looked strong offensively but occasionally struggled to get out of innings on the mound.

In Sunday’s victory, a pair of home runs from sophomore duo Cooper Johnson and Thomas Dillard contributed to the 6-3 score differential, with Johnson’s second home run of the weekend coming in the sixth inning to put the game away.

Though Johnson and Dillard both have had strong starts to the season, it is their sophomore counterpart and Oxford native Grae Kessinger who has stolen headlines with his impressive early-season tear. Through the first seven games, the Rebel shortstop currently holds a .464 batting average, and his 13 hits in 28 at-bats leads the Ole Miss lineup.

Out of the bullpen, closer Dallas Woolfolk has begun the year where he left off in 2017 and picked up his fourth save of the season Sunday. The save put him one place behind Scott Bittle for fourth place on the all-time school list with 17 career saves, with much of the season left to play for the 6-foot-3 right-hander.

Out of Kentucky, Murray State started out its season losing the opening series at the University of Kansas 2-1 and lost to Alabama A&M, also on the road, a week ago.

With the team’s first home series of the season restructured due to weather, Murray State won the first two games of its series with Western Illinois on Sunday and played the final game of the series on Monday afternoon, winning 4-3.

With only a one-day turn-around to prepare for the Rebels, the Racers will hit the road Tuesday and hope to capture their first away victory of the young 2018 season.

The last time the two teams played came during the 2015-16 season in a game in which Ole Miss totaled 12 hits and forced Murray State to play 10 pitchers in eight innings before the game ended with an 8-3 Rebel victory. The year before the Racers’ pitching disaster, the Rebels also took the win 8-5 in a midweek matchup.

The first pitch against Murray State is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Tuesday, and the game will be streamed live on SEC Network+. This will be the last game at Swayze Field before the Rebels leave home for the first time in 2018 and travel to California to take on Long Beach State over the weekend.