Effective Hively

Ole Miss has a lot of arms and is looking for a few to step up. R.J. Hively already has.


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The senior right-hander from Huntington Beach, Calif., has solidified himself as at least a strong candidate to be a weekend starter in the spring.

"My numbers have been good this fall but the most exciting thing for me is that my fastball command and changeup have really risen," said Hively, who pitched in 13 games last season, his first at Ole Miss, with one start after early-season arm soreness limited his innings. "That was my goal coming into this fall. The confidence level that I have compared to last year with my fastball is unbelievable. Through that, it makes all my pitches that much better."

Hively said he and veteran junior Brett Huber have both set out this fall to have more of an impact next spring.

"One thing coming in, Huber and I really worked on fastball command, because that was one thing we didn't think was at the top of our game," Hively said. "If we can win with a fastball, that makes our breaking ball that much better. Coach (Mike) Bianco and Coach (Carl) Lafferty really worked on two-seams and changeups because we're big fastball/slider guys. But for us to be really effective and to be able to throw a changeup and mix it in, that's going to help us even more."

Hively pitched the first four innings in Thursday's Red-Blue World Series game, won 7-1 by his Red team, which claimed the series. The Red team had won 10-4 Wednesday. Hively allowed no runs and no hits with one walk and two strikeouts.

"Today was a really good day," said Hively after the game, played in 50-degree, overcast, misty conditions. "The weather wasn't ideal. But that's what makes baseball fun because you never know what's in store. Luckily I made a lot of good pitches in the zone and the defense did a good job making plays."

Bianco said Hively has had a good fall.

"He has really pitched terrific, and really since his second bullpen (of the fall). So before we began intrasquad games," Bianco said. "The second or third bullpen of the fall you could just tell he was different on the mound. He had better command, more confidence. He has always had a great breaking ball, but his fastball command has been excellent for him and even mixing in a good changeup.

"When he throws his fastball like that in and out with a lot of confidence, I think it makes it so much more difficult on the hitters," Bianco continued. "The breaking ball is tremendous, and we have always known that. But when you mix in the fastball with that command down in the zone with a lot of movement, it's hard to hit."


Alex Yarbrough in a second to third rundown of Will Jamison in Thursday's game
Jeff Roberson

Hively said his improvement hasn't happened without a plan.

"Actually Coach Lafferty and I really worked on my mechanics and staying back and not leaking out so much," he said. "Through that, it's easier to repeat my mechanics and, in that sense, repeat pitches."

Sophomore right-hander Mike Mayers was the starter for the Blue team Thursday. He went four innings as well, allowing one run on three hits, all singles, with two strikeouts and no walks.

Other pitchers for the Red team were sophomore right-hander Aaron Greenwood and freshman right-hander Josh Laxer. Other pitchers for the Blue team were junior right-hander Blair Wright, freshman right-hander Sam Smith, and freshman right-hander Chris Ellis.

Here is the scoring wrapup of Thursday's game courtesy of Bill Bunting of Ole Miss athletics media relations.

The Red team got on the board first with a single run in the first inning. Blake Newalu singled before stealing second. He then advanced to third on a single from Alex Yarbrough. A sac fly to right from Red team manager matt snyder brought Newalu home and put his squad on the board.

The Blue team answered in the fifth, using a double from Sikes Orvis and a single to right from Kody Sepulveda to even things at a run each.

It was all the Red team from there as Snyder's squad broke things open with a four run sixth inning before playing a run each in the seventh and eighth.

In the sixth, Zach Kirksey singled before moving to third on a single from Andrew Mistone. Kirksey then scored on a fielding error at third off a ball put in play by Auston Bousfield that allowed the freshman to reach and put Mistone at second. Austin Sullivan then doubled to right to drive in Mistone and Bousfield. Back-to-back wild pitches brought the fourth run home as Sullivan moved from second to third and then scored to put the Red team up 5-1.

The Red team got a single run in the seventh inning when Alex Yarbrough scored on a Taylor Hightower single. Yarbrough reached on a lead-off triple to open the inning before the Hightower hit.

The scoring ended in the eighth with the Red team scoring the final run as Sullivan crossed the plate from first on a double to center field from Casey Greene.

Next up for Ole Miss baseball: The TCU series in Fort Worth Feb. 17-19, 2012, to open the season.


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