Dominant Pitching

STARKVILLE - Ole Miss got off to a quick start early, but it was R.J. Hively late who carried the Rebels to a 6-2 victory at Mississippi State Saturday afternoon.

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Matt Snyder from Jeff Roberson on Vimeo.

Coming in for starter Mike Mayers in a tough situation with a two-run homer by MSU's Mitch Slauter just in the books to tie the game 2-2, there were no outs in the bottom of the sixth inning at the time. But the senior right-hander got a ground out, a strike out and a line out to end the sixth and send Ole Miss to the seventh with a chance to break the tie – which the Rebels did with two runs of their own.

"Felt great," said Hively of his four innings on the mound to move to 4-3 on the season. "You have to have confidence. You can't be afraid of those situations, especially coming out of the pen. That's where you have to flourish, being able to step up and do something for your team. I was glad I had that opportunity today."

After the Rebels got him those two runs to work with in the seventh, Hively said he still hit a bump or two before finishing.

"There was a time in the eighth inning, I think it was, where I kinda lost command," said Hively, who moved from weekend starter to reliever a week ago against Arkansas. "But it was just a simple adjustment. I was starting to pull off a little. Coach (Bianco) came out and talked to me, settled me down a little. He just reminded me to go toward the plate, because when I fall off, the stuff kinda flattens out and I can't find the strike zone."

Mike Bianco said Hively was key in doing things to help his team to victory.

"R.J. was terrific out there, just a warrior at the end, the last four innings," he said. "When you make the move, that's what you hope for. Certainly he did it last Saturday in that 1-0 game against Arkansas. And he did it again today."

The Rebels had actually led 2-0 early on a Matt Snyder home run in the first inning. But things remained that way until the sixth when MSU tied it.

Mayers was solid through five innings but ran into trouble in the sixth. Adam Frazier walked, and that's when Slauter stepped in and blasted one just past the top of the wall in left.

R.J. Hively
Bruce Newman

Hively said being a starter and a reliever is all about getting things done. In his current situation, he said he watches the ones before him to prepare for his time on the mound – whether it is as a reliever or a starter.

"Just watch the game, honestly," he said of what he does to get ready in whatever situation he is asked to pitch. "Watch Bobby Wahl. Watch Mike Mayers. (Bianco) called my name, and you still don't know if you're going to go in. Mike could cruise through that inning, and then we could put up a 10 spot, and I might start the next day."

Bianco didn't name a starter for Sunday after Saturday's game. Neither did MSU head coach John Cohen.

As for Saturday, after his team improved to 28-15 overall and 10-10 in Southeastern Conference play, Bianco said job well done.

"Just a really good game," he said. "I thought both starters (UM and MSU) were terrific today. It was one of those games where we don't get much. We took the lead, and they tied it back up. We were able to get the lead back (in the seventh) and extend it at the end."

Ole Miss scored two runs in the top of the ninth to all but ice it with a four-run advantage.

MSU starter Kendall Gravemen went 6.1 innings and took the loss to fall to 3-3. He allowed four runs, three earned.

State had three errors and a couple of other miscues that Cohen said were keys in the loss.

"There's about five plays that we did not make," he said, "and you're not going to win any day in our league when you make the four or five blunders that we made."

The Bulldogs fell to 26-17 and 9-11.

Slauter for MSU said it's all about Sunday now.

"We're going to have to come out and play hard in game three," he said. "That's when state championships are won on Sundays."

Bianco said the Rebels played well Saturday but want to play even better Sunday to try to claim the important SEC series.

"We've got to play well. It's all about playing well," he said. "Tomorrow the goal is to play better."

Game time is set for 1:30 p.m.

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