FINAL: Ole Miss 4, Tennessee 2
I have no video today, choosing to try and limit the exposure of the iPhone as we conducted interviews in a light but steady rain. I have seen an iPhone stop working in similar circumstances.
There were a number of postgame storylines, one being the fact that the Rebels won an SEC Sunday game for the first time since the Sunday at Georgia on April 14.
The Sunday game was brough into sharper focus after the move of RJ Hively to the bullpen beginning with the Arkansas series the following weekend.
It’s not that the Rebels have lost the Sunday games as much as they’ve just not been competitive, getting outscored 27-8. There have been problems with starting pitching but other problems too.
Today the Rebels especially sharp at all times. A better hitting team may have taken advantage of some early opportunities more than the Vols did.
But at the end of the day, Hively, who pitched two innings and earned the save in Game 1, overcame two first-inning errors, one of them his own, by scattering four hit, walking just one and striking out five. He gave up two runs, both unearned.
Aaron Greenwood was really strong behind him. Greenwood pitched 3.2 innings. The only walk he allowed was with two outs in the ninth when Mike Bianco quickly pulled him. Brett Huber retired the only batter he faced and earned his ninth save.
Greenwood gave up no hits, no runs and struck out four.
The Rebels struggled to hit Tennessee’s soft-throwing right-hander, Robbie Kidd, who came on early in relief of soft-throwing lefty Joseph Vanderplas.
The Rebels scratched out three runs against Vanderplas, two in the second to take a 3-1 lead.
The Vols got a run against Hively in the fifth but could never break through against Greenwood.
The Rebels managed just six hits. Two of them came from Alex Yarbrough. Though his average dipped below .400 early in the game, he finished 2-for-3 and is above .400 going into Tuesday’s final non-conference game at Arkansas State.
Bottom line for this weekend: The sweep was huge. Going into the weekend the Rebels were just 2-5 in their previous seven SEC games. They needed SEC wins.
There’s nothing written in NCAA by-laws that says a team with 14 SEC wins makes the field of 64. I’m thinking the Rebels are in, though, and are now playing for seeding and higher goals. There’s a chance to host if they win twice at Vanderbilt depending on how things around them play out.
However, for a team that missed postseason last year, getting back is priority 1. The Rebels have clinched a spot in the SEC tournament and look to be well on their way to getting back to the NCAAs too.
Vanderbilt appears to be coming together. The Commodores have played a really strong schedule, and they got really good pitching in taking 2 of 3 at LSU this weekend. It’s the third straight series win for the Dores.
The Rebels’ sweep this weekend and the pressure release from winning a Sunday game should allow them to play loose and free – and maybe successfully – in Nashville.
The Rebels go for the sweep today and the all-important 14th SEC win.
Starting pitchers: Ole Miss, RJ Hively 4-4, 2.84. UT, Joseph Vanderplas, 0-0, 14.73 (not a typo). 3.2 innings. He’s a left-hander, probably a guy that will require Ole Miss batters to get used to his timing.
2B Will Maddox .297
SS Zach Osborne .264
1B Davis Morgan .286
DH Drew Steckenrider .244
CF Chris Fritts .250
RF Steve Weaver .214
LF Chris Pierce .269
C Ethan Bennett .198 (2B, HR yesterday)
3B Zach Luther .237
LF Tanner Mathis .343
3B Andrew Mistone .237
2B Alex Yarbrough .401
1B Matt Snyder .346
C Will Allen .338
DH John Gatlin .333
CF Auston Bousfield .274
RF Preston Overbey .268
SS Austin Anderson .233