Aaron Greenwood from Jeff Roberson on Vimeo.
Sunday’s finale was a 4-2 Rebel victory that once again saw impressive pitching for Ole Miss. Starter R.J. Hively, who closed the last two innings of Friday night’s 4-2 win, went five innings on Sunday.
The Rebels had been looking for a Sunday starter since moving Mike Mayers from Sunday to Saturday and Hively to the bullpen. The coaches had talked for four weeks that if Hively didn’t close or get used up in the first two games, he’d start on Sunday.
Through five innings he allowed two runs, neither earned, with four hits, five strikeouts and a walk. Hively paved the way for Aaron Greenwood to pitch as fine a 3.2 innings as he’s thrown all season. No runs, no hits even, with four strikeouts and a walk.
Greenwood almost finished the game, but after a two-out walk in the top of the ninth, Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco went to the mound to pull Greenwood and signal for Brett Huber.
The junior right-hander, with his ninth save of the season, got the final out when Volunteer Chris Pierce popped up to Alex Yarbrough at second base.
“It’s good to finish out the weekend,” said Bianco after his team moved to 34-18 on the season and 14-13 in the Southeastern Conference. “We didn’t play very well, especially defensively. Nor did they. It was just a messy game.”
And a messy day. Mists and rains came early and fairly often. But the game was never halted. They played through it, and some of the day’s most intense rains came right after the final out.
Will Allen and company stopped the Vols 3 times
Ole Miss had three errors and Tennessee had two. Bianco said Hively was the key to victory.
“The story obviously is R.J. He gave us a boost early,” Bianco said. “He put up some zeroes. We only give up two unearned runs.
“Tough day offensively for us,” he continued. “But we did enough to win the game.”
Ole Miss had six hits and UT had only four. The Volunteers are now 24-27 and 8-19.
Hively, now 5-4 with the win, said he felt good but didn’t know how long he could go.
“Honestly I had no idea,” he said. “It took me a while to get loose. But once I got loose, I felt fine. Fastball was good. Slider was there. Filled it up, and that was the big thing.”
Getting a Sunday win had been tough for Ole Miss lately. The last one came four weeks ago, actually on a Saturday, in Athens, Ga.
Bianco said as much as anything, the win means not being asked about the last-game problems that have plagued the Rebels lately.
“It’s nice not to hear that question anymore,” he said. “It had nothing to do with Sunday. It had to do with playing well.”
This Sunday, as they had all weekend, they played at least well enough to get a sweep of Tennessee.
The Volunteers, along with Alabama, are the two teams that won’t be a part of the SEC Tournament in two weeks.
Ole Miss has a midweek game at Arkansas State Tuesday night. The Rebels then play at Vanderbilt beginning Thursday night, the first of three games to close out the regular season.
For now, however, the Rebels will relish, at least for one day, their first SEC sweep of the campaign.
“It’s huge,” said Alex Yarbrough, 2-for-3 on the day with two walks. “We always talk about how big it is to take two out of three in an SEC series. Anytime you can sweep, it’s massive. The standings are so tightly packed.”
Ole Miss is currently in fifth place in the overall SEC standings.