Fast Start

A strong start on the mound and at the plate was enough for Ole Miss as the 20th-ranked Rebels claimed the series against UNC-Wilmington with a 6-4 win Saturday. The series concludes with a game at 12 noon Sunday.

Follow SpiritJeff on Twitter

Starter R.J. Hively struck out the side in the top of the first inning and the first two batters he faced in the second.

Hively, who struggled a bit in his first outing of the season at TCU, said he was ready for this one, with a little encouragement from his head coach.

"Coach (Mike Bianco) brought me to the side and said some stuff to me, and I really took it to heart," said the senior right-hander. "I just went out there and was more aggressive."

Bianco said Hively, who went 5.2 innings, allowing four runs on six hits with one walk and nine strikeouts, was a different pitcher than the first weekend.

"R.J. was terrific early, very dominant with his slider," he said. "We talked earlier in the week about being aggressive and attacking and going out there to win the game. Not just him but Bobby (Wahl) also. If you're going to be a weekend guy, you're going to have to be aggressive, and certainly he was that today."

When the Rebels (4-1) got to the plate in the bottom of the first, they jumped on Seahawk starter Tyler DeLoach with a little help from DeLoach himself, who eventually took the loss (0-1). The left-hander walked leadoff hitter Tanner Mathis, then Auston Bousfield beat out a throw on a base hit. After Alex Yarbrough walked to load the bases, Matt Snyder doubled to drive in all three baserunners.

After Hively got his first non-strikeout, a groundout to second to end the second inning, the Rebels came up in the bottom of the frame and added to their lead. After one out, Senquez Golson was hit by a pitch and Mathis walked again. Following a double steal, Yarbrough dropped a single into shallow right field to get both runners home.

That made it 5-0, and this one appeared to be out of hand for the Seahawks (2-4). After Snyder singled, UNC-W pulled DeLoach in favor of right-hander Tom Timoney. Things improved for the visitors at the moment.

Andrew Mistone flew out to right to end the second, and with Ole Miss up five runs, the Seahawks later began to chip away.

After picking up a run in the fifth, UNC-W pulled to within a run of the Rebs with three more in the sixth, chasing Hively. Casey Mulholland came in to hold things right there.

Ole Miss added a bit of insurance in the bottom of the sixth. Bousfield doubled to get Golson home who had also doubled.

Dylan Chavez and Brett Huber didn't allow anything further for UNC-W the final two and two-thirds innings. But the Rebels weren't able to get anything more off reliever Kelly Secrest the final two innings.

Hively, 1-0 with the win, said he had to get his mind right to be a weekend starter.

"More than anything physical it was more of a mindset of going out there," he said. "The biggest thing was I threw strikes today. You look back and you've got seven guys behind you who can really pay defense.

Mike Bianco
Bruce Newman

"The first thing I wrote in my pregame journal is to use my defense. I went out and I used Will (Allen). I was ahead in the counts early and made quality pitches."

Bianco said the Rebels should have built on their early lead but didn't.

"We score five and at that point you thought we were going to have a comfortable day. You have to credit UNC-Wilmington. They just kept battling," Bianco said. "We stopped putting pressure on them offensively, and they started putting pressure on us."

Bianco wasn't happy with the way the Rebels handled things at times defensively.

"We've got to be cleaner in the field," he said after his team committed only one error but had some other miscues. "We continue to make dumb errors and give other teams opportunities. The amazing thing is they're dumb errors. They're not fielding errors. They're not balls where you go ‘Gosh we gotta get better defensively.' We've got to have a little more focus."

Pleased with Relief

Bianco felt his relief pitching on this day was solid.

"Proud of the way Casey came in and pumped the ball into the strike zone. Of course, Chavez and Huber we were really hoping not to use (Saturday) but knew they were ready and available. So when you have five (runs in the first two innings) you don't feel it's going to be a day for Huber. But he was ready to go. Both those guys pitched back to back days, and they both looked strong."

Mulholland went two/thirds of an inning, with two hits but no damage, facing four batters. Chavez was solid again, facing five batters with a strikeout in 1.2 innings. Huber struck out three and gave up just a hit in the ninth.

Listening To Coach

Snyder went 3-for-4 and said he felt good at the plate, as you would expect.

"Coach Bianco said before the game we needed to come out here and kinda smack ‘em in the mouth and get that big hit to get the game going," he said. "He actually said to have a bases-clearing double. So I got up with the bases loaded and made sure to do what he told me to do."

The table was set for Snyder to launch one.

"The at-bats before me by Mathis and Bousfield (3-for-4 in the game) and Yarbrough were awesome. Anytime you can get the bases loaded in the first inning and clear them in, that's a big momentum keeper for the team. After that we needed to clean it up and get more hits. As the season goes along we'll learn from this."

Bianco said Snyder's offense is key for this team.

"He's one that we've just got to get going. He's obviously one of the best hitters that's ever played here. His swings are good, and it was nice to see him swing it today."

Improving Golson

Golson was 2-for-2 with two runs scored and seems to be getting more comfortable every game.

"He just continues to improve," Bianco said. "If you watch him in BP every single day, he just keeps getting better and better. He's going to get a lot of hits."

Defensively, Bianco sees improvement from Golson day by day.

"It's tough to just see that in games. It's something you see more in practice. Don't misunderstand anything. He's not a bad defensive player. He's going to get better at that as well. Just like everything else, each day he just keeps getting better."

OM Spirit Top Stories