By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – R.J. Hively gave Ole Miss the starting pitching it had been missing, Aaron Greenwood backed him up with a strong effort from the bullpen, and the Rebels completed an SEC sweep of Tennessee with a 4-2 win on Sunday afternoon.
An announced Mother’s Day crowd of 6,719 braved an intermittent rain and watched the Rebels rally from an early deficit for the third-straight day.
The series victory is the Rebels’ fourth of the season. They missed opportunities to win series against Mississippi State and LSU with flat Sunday performances. Before that they lost 11-3 with a chance to sweep Arkansas and had been outscored 27-8 in their previous three Game 3s.
“It’s nice not to have to hear that question anymore,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “It had nothing to do with Sunday. It had to do with not playing well. It had to do with guys who had pitched well on other days for whatever reason not pitching well on that particular day.”
None of the previous three Sunday starters – Sam Smith, Tanner Bailey or Dylan Chavez – had pitched more than three innings.
Hively, who pitched two innings and earned a save in the Rebels’ 4-2 win Friday, went five innings and allowed four hits, no earned runs, a walk and struck out five.
Still, the Rebels (34-18, 14-13 SEC) trailed 1-0 after the first. Tennessee (24-27, 8-19) got two hits then while Ole Miss committed two errors.
The Rebels tied with game in the bottom of the inning on a sacrifice fly by Will Allen, who would add another sac fly in the seventh for the their final run.
Ole Miss gave Hively some breathing room with two runs in the second. Auston Bousfield tripled and Will Jamison and Andrew Mistone had RBI hits.
“The big thing on a day like this is getting the leadoff guy, so you stop the momentum of the inning. When you can do that, with the defense we play, and our offense, it makes games real easy,” Hively said.
Huber closes it out
Greenwood was strong for 32/3 innings, allowing no hits and no runs. He walked only one batter, that with two outs in the ninth. Bianco quickly turned to Brett Huber who retired the only man he faced with a fly ball for his ninth save.
“It was just a messy game. I don’t think we played very well, especially defensively, nor did they,” Bianco said. “But we gutted it out. R.J. gave us a boost early and hung up some zeroes. It was a tough day offensively, but we did enough to win the game.”
Ole Miss visits Arkansas State on Tuesday, then closes the SEC regular season at Vanderbilt, starting Thursday.