College Baseball May 13, 2012

By School reports

Rebels sweep Tennessee with 4-2 Sunday win

Ole Miss Media Relations
OXFORD, Miss. – R.J. Hively led a solid pitching performance from the Rebels as No. 24 Ole Miss (34-18, 14-13 SEC) defeated Tennessee (24-27, 8-19 SEC) by a score of 4-2 on Sunday to sweep the weekend series with the Volunteers.

The sweep was the first of the season for the Rebels in Southeastern Conference play and closed out the home portion of the regular season for Ole Miss. The Rebels will close out the regular season on the road this week with four games, including a Tuesday night contest at Arkansas State and a three-game series at Vanderbilt starting on Thursday night.

Hively (5-4) picked up the win for the Rebels, allowing two unearned runs on four hits with a walk and five strikeouts in 5.0 innings of work. Aaron Greenwood then worked 3.2 hitless with a walk and four strikeouts to hold Tennessee in check before Brett Huber would pick up his ninth save of the season with the final out of the game.

Hively factored into two of the three wins on the weekend, picking up a save on Friday night before taking the win in a start on Sunday. Huber moved into sole possession of second all-time in saves at Ole Miss with a pair of saves on the weekend and now has 25 for his carerer. He needs one more save to tie three-time All-American Stephen Head atop the saves list at Ole Miss.

“It’s good to finish out the weekend,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “It was not a game we played very well defensively, nor did they. It was just a tough day to play baseball. We didn’t have very good conditions. We gutted it out. R.J. (Hively) gave us a boost early. He put up some zeros. We only gave up two runs. Both of which were unearned. It was a tough day offensively. We struggled all day but we did enough to win the game.”

Tennessee capitalized on a pair of Rebel errors in the first inning to push a run home, but Ole Miss limited the damage to one run with a strikeout following an RBI double from Chris Fritts that put Tennessee on the board.

The Rebels used a pair of Tennessee errors in the bottom half of the inning to get a run across and tie the game after the first Ole Miss two batters reached on errors. A sac fly to center field from Will Allen with the bases loaded scored Tanner Mathis from third and the score was tied at one.

Ole Miss added two more runs in the second inning to grab the lead. Auston Bousfield opened the inning with a triple to right field before coming home a single from Preston Overbey. A sac bunt from Austin Anderson moved Overbey to second and he took third on a groundout to second from Mathis. Andrew Mistone then singled up the middle to score Overbey and Ole Miss held the 3-1 lead.

Tennessee cut the lead to one in the fifth when a third Rebel error allowed Zach Luther to score from third. Luther reached on a walk and moved to second on a single from Will Maddox. A double steal put both runners in scoring position before a throwing error with two outs allowed him to score and cut the lead to 3-2.

Ole Miss would get out of the inning, catching Maddox in a rundown as he attempted to steal home.

A single run in the seventh pushed the lead back out to two runs as Mistone scored on a second sac fly from Allen to make it 4-2. That score would hold until the end as the Rebel bullpen held Tennessee at bay the rest of the way.

Mississippi State drops tough 2-1 decision at Florida in rubber game

MSU Media Relations
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Fifth-ranked Florida managed only three hits Sunday afternoon against Mississippi State pitching.

However, one of those three hits was a game-winning home run by Mike Zunino. Zunino’s one-out blast in the bottom of the eighth inning carried the Gators past the 25th-ranked Bulldogs 2-1 in the final game of a weekend Southeastern Conference series at McKethan Stadium.

The victory gave Florida its third straight regular-season series win against MSU, not including last season’s Super Regional series win by UF. MSU dropped to 31-20 overall and 13-14 in league play, while Florida improved to 38-14 and 16-11. Six of the Bulldogs’ 14 league losses have been by a single run.

“We put ourselves in a position and when we get there we can’t convert it,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “We are always on the edge because everything is a close game. I am proud of how the kids are competing right now, but we just aren’t doing it offensively.”

Ross Mitchell was dominant in relief. Mitchell entered in relief of starter Evan Mitchell, who was lifted with two outs in the third inning. Ross Mitchell retired the first 10 batters he faced before issuing a lead-off walk in the seventh inning. Caleb Reed and Jacob Lindgren followed in relief and each got critical strikeouts to work MSU out of the tight spot in the seventh inning.

Lindgren (1-2) was not as fortunate an inning later. After getting the leadoff out, Zunino’s second hit of the weekend and 13th home run of the season gave the Gators the lead for good.

For a second straight day, MSU scored first with a single run in the third inning. Hunter Renfroe slapped his fourth home run of the year for a 1-0 lead. The Bulldogs had threatened earlier with four combined walks and a hit batsman during their first two at-bats.

Florida answered with a lone run in the home half of the third inning. Vickash Ramjit singled and took second on a throwing error. After a sacrifice bunt, a groundball out by Preston Tucker brought home the game-tying run.

The Bulldogs stranded three in the fourth inning and two more in the fifth inning. Things then got tough as the dynamic 1-2 relief punch of Steven Rodriguez and Austin Maddox (3-2) closed the door. That duo walked two and allowed no hits in the final 4.1 innings of work.

“In fairness, not many people are hitting Maddox or Rodriguez in our league right now,” Cohen said. “However, we have to be better offensively. We are disappointed but not disappointed in the effort.”

The Bulldogs stranded 13 base runners in Saturday’s 2-0 victory and stranded 13 additional runners Sunday. MSU finished the weekend with four total runs on 16 base hits. Renfroe had seven of those hits in the weekend series.

Florida managed six totals runs on 13 base hits during the weekend series.

“The kids have been through so much this year,” Cohen said. “It would mean a lot to them to have a big crowd show up to give them some support this week. They have competed and worked hard all year and deserve it. There is so much left in our season. There is so much we want to accomplish. And we can still reach those goals.”

MSU closes the regular season by playing four home games. The Bulldogs host Central Arkansas at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. For the weekend, ninth-ranked Kentucky comes calling. The Bulldogs and Wildcats play at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday.

USM baseball completes sweep of ECU with two wins Sunday

USM Media Relations
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Blake Brown delivered a go-ahead two-run double in the completion of the suspended game and Dillon Day notched a game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the 12th in the scheduled contest to lead the Golden Eagles to 5-3 and 5-4 baseball victories over East Carolina Sunday at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field.

The Golden Eagles (28-22 overall, 12-9 C-USA) swept the Pirates for the third time in six visits to Hattiesburg and have taken all three games in the last two series at Pete Taylor Park. It also marked the second league series sweep at home this season for Southern Miss.

In the regularly scheduled game, the Golden Eagles and Pirates battled into the 12th with a 4-4 contest as each team had their chances to win the contest in the extra frames.

ECU (32-19-1, 13-10-1) had a chance to take the go-ahead run twice in the contest with the game tied, but Day threw out runners at the plate in both the eighth and 11th innings to keep the score even.

It was then Day who delivered the game-winning in the 12th. After Brown singled through the left side with one out, he went to third on a wild pickoff throw by Pirate reliever Tanner Merritt. Day then lifted a 1-2 pitch into right-center to score Brown to end it.

“It’s Mother’s Day, but it’s also Dillon’s day as well,” said Southern Miss coach Scott Berry. “He throws those two guys out at the plate – both potential winning runs – then gets the walk-off hit. I was proud to see him do it, especially considering he hadn’t been swinging the bat the way I know he wants to. For him to come out here and play on that level was great to see.”

Freshman Cody Livingston threw the final two innings and allowed just two hits to get the victory and improve to 2-1 on the campaign, while Merritt (3-6) suffered the loss by giving up an unearned run in the final frame.

Brown and Day each had three hits in the contest as the Golden Eagles tallied four doubles in the contest including RBI two-base hits for Mason Robbins and Brown in the second and Ashley Graeter in the sixth.

ECU plated three runs in the second on four hits and John Wooten registered a home run in the fifth, a solo shot for his eighth of the year, to account for the Pirate scoring.

In the suspended game which resumed at 9 a.m., after it was delayed on Saturday at 11:48 a.m., and then called at 2:15 p.m., to be picked up on Sunday, restarted in the top of the 7th with the score tied at 2-2.

ECU immediately went ahead on a double by Wooten, but the Golden Eagles took the lead for good in the bottom of the frame on a two-run double from Brown. Kameron Brunty singled to lead of the frame and Travis Creel walked and each scored on Brown’s hit. The Golden Eagles then added a solo home run by Robbins, his third, in the eighth.

“I was very proud of the way we came back in that first game,” said Berry. “We gave up the go-ahead run, but scratched and came back. Some freshmen played some big roles in there, like Mason (Robbins) with the big home run and Cody Livingston on the mound. It’s been a roller coaster year, everyone knows that. We want to be playing our best ball right now at the end of the season. We know what we have to do, so there’s no more pressure as far as that goes. We just have to keep playing good baseball.”

Reliever Chase Horn got the final two outs of the seventh to earn the victory and improve to 1-3 on the year. Livingston got a pair of out outs before Golden Eagle closer Bradley Roney was summoned to get the final four outs and register his 10th save of the campaign.

Merritt suffered the loss in the first game as well, giving up a couple of runs in a 1/3 on an inning.

The Golden Eagles return to action for their final regular-season series at UAB, beginning Thursday at Young Memorial Field.

Read more in Monday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.