By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – Ole Miss right-hander Chris Ellis pitched out of trouble in the sixth inning, then Aaron Greenwood slammed the door.
Greenwood retired all nine batters he faced, four with strikeouts, and the No. 11-ranked Rebels edged Arkansas 3-2 in their SEC series opener before 9,224 fans at Swayze Field on Friday night.
The Rebels (34-13, 14-8 SEC) led 3-0 against Razorbacks right-hander Trey Killian after four innings but were never able to extend the lead and get him out of the game.
Killian went the distance with a theme that’s been familiar for him this season – lack of run support.
It was the fourth complete game of the season for Killian, who has won only twice in 10 decisions.
Game 2 is at 2:15 p.m. today.
Ellis left some pitches up the strike zone, and the Razorbacks (29-19, 10-12) squeezed him for two runs in the fifth on a two-out triple by Tyler Spoon.
Ellis appeared rattled when he followed with a hit-batter and a walk to load the bases, but he kept the Razorbacks from tying or taking the lead when he got a ground ball from four-hole hitter Brian Anderson.
The Hogs got the first two on base in the sixth with an error and a walk. They bunted the runners ahead, but Ellis got Michael Bernal swinging on an off-speed pitch then retired Bobby Wernes with a fly ball.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said he was proud of the way Ellis battled but would like to have seen more efficiency.
“One of the goals was the keep the lead-off guy off base, and that didn’t happen much. He pitched out of jams, but those pitches can take a toll on you,” Bianco said.
Ellis (7-0) scattered six hits and walked three.
There was far more efficiency from Greenwood even though he had some help from the Hogs who swung at some balls out of the zone.
“We swung at ball four to lead off the eighth and a few other pitches. He had good stuff, but we went out of the zone way too much offensively,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said.
Greenwood picked up his second save of the season. He never allowed a baserunner and showed the form that allowed him to string together almost 20 scoreless innings before an abdominal injury forced him out for three weeks. His return last week at Kentucky was less dominant.
After halting the Hogs in the seventh and eighth Greenwood wasn’t sure he’d finish the game but jumped at the chance.
“I was just thinking two good innings. Coach B came up to me after the eighth and said, ‘Do you feel good enough to finish?’ I said, ‘For sure, yes sir.’”