College Baseball April 22, 2012

By School and staff reports

Ole Miss falls to Arkansas 11-3
By Parrish Alford
NEMS Daily Journal

The flip side to strengthening the bullpen by moving R.J. Hively to a relief role was how it might affect the starting pitching.

That was a concern when Mike Bianco announced the change during the week, and that concern played out Sunday when Arkansas salvaged a game in the series by aggressively handling the first two pitchers – Sam Smith and Chris Ellis – that the Rebels sent to the mound.

There were bullpen bright spots later in the day, but the damage had been done. Bianco said afterward it was more about the Arkansas offense than the pitching, a message he delivered to Smith, who began his first SEC start with 4.01 ERA.

In the big picture of things the move had the desired effect, and the starting pitching was an unintended consequence.

The Rebels got a big division series win against a quality opponent, a shot in the arm they needed, and a good start to the second half of the SEC season.

Hively will remain in the pen, and Bianco will have a week to consider his starting pitching for next Sunday. Hively will be an option to start depending on how he’s used in the two games prior. That was the plan this week as well. Had today’s game been closer Hively, most likely, could have pitched again. He threw 2.2 innings of hitless, scoreless relief on Saturday with a walk and three strikeouts.Today, the pitching went like this: Sam Smith, 1 IP, 6 ER, 5 hits; Chris Ellis 2.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 hits, Hawtin Buchanan 2.1 IP, 1 ER, 2 hits, 5 K, Blair Wright .2 IP, 2 ER 4 hits, Josh Laxer 2.1 IP, 0 R, 2 hits.

Arkansas finished with 18 hits.

The fact is, Bianco and the 10,000 plus in attendance Saturday knew that Sunday would be about the offense if the Rebels were going to complete the sweep.

You would hope the pitching wouldn’t get pounded the way it did, but that’s baseball. This was a game in which the Rebels were going to have to score with the Hogs and make the pitches or get the key hits at the biggest times.

As it happened, the Rebels got 13 hits but couldn’t string them together and create a big inning. Three of those hits came from Alex Yarbrough, who extended his hitting streak to 19 games.

The Rebels got one in the third against Arkansas starter D.J. Baxendale, scoring Austin Anderson on Matt Snyder’s RBI single. That left the Rebels with two on and one out, but the threat ended when Will Allen hit into a 5-4-3 double play. Snyder hit into a double play with the bases loaded in the seventh. The Razorbacks were happy to trade a run for two outs at that time as the Rebels cut into an 11-1 deficit to make it 11-2.

Ole Miss scored its final run in the bottom of the ninth when few in the crowd of 8,115 remained to see it.

The Rebels had 14 runners left on base.

Arkansas’ Cade Lynch, the second of four pitchers, got the win.

Click here for more at Inside Ole Miss Sports Blog with Parrish Alford.

Southern Miss Golden Eagles sweep Memphis with 2-1 victory Sunday

USM Media Relations
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Isaac Rodriguez singled through the left side to score Ashley Graeter with the winning run in the eighth as Southern Miss defeated Memphis 2-1 here Sunday afternoon at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field to sweep the three-game series.

The Golden Eagles (23-16 overall, 7-5 C-USA) swept their first Conference USA series since taking all three games from UAB on May 6-8, 2011.

Mason Robbins, in his first collegiate pitching start, limited Memphis to a run on five hits and three walks with two strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings. Robbins then turned the game over to Cameron Giannini and Bradley Roney who limited the Tigers to just one hit and two walks with three strikeouts the rest of the way.

Southern Miss scored solo runs in the seventh and eighth to get the job done in a series that saw just a total of eight runs tallied from both teams.

In the seventh, Dillon Day, who tallied a pair of hits, led of the frame with a single. After stealing second, he was sacrificed to third on a bunt by Joe Martin. Kameron Brunty then hit a sacrifice fly to left to plate Day to tie the score.

Graeter, who finished the game with three of the Eagles’10 hits, walked to start the eighth.

The Tigers then went to their pen and their third pitcher in Jonathan Van Eaton. With Rodriguez showing bunt, Van Eaton threw over to first to keep the runner close. Unfortunately for the visitors, no one was covering the bag and the ball went down into the Memphis bullpen and Graeter ended up at third. The Tigers were using their bunt formation which left an opening at first that allowed the ball to get away.

Rodriguez then laced a 2-2 pitch between the shortstop and third baseman to put the home team ahead for good.

The Tigers (17-23, 6-9) got to Robbins with a two-out double in the second by Tucker Tubbs. After an infield single, Ethan Gross knocked in the Tigers’ lone run with a single to left.

The Tigers also threatened in the sixth but Giannini got a strikeout to end the frame. Giannini posted the victory to improve to 2-2 on the campaign.

Roney then came in to start the ninth. After a single and a walk, Memphis used a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third. The freshman righthander then got Gross to hit into a fielder’s choice and pinch runner Zach Willis was thrown out at the plate. Roney then fanned pinch hitter Carter White to end the game and get his seventh save.

The Golden Eagles return to action Tuesday when they travel to Pearl, Miss., for a 6:30 p.m., contest against Mississippi State at Trustmark Park. The meeting is the only one between the two schools this season.

Read more on these games in Monday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.