Friday Night Efficiency

Bobby Wahl and R.J. Hively basically shut Tennessee down Friday night, along with an efficient Rebel defense. Ole Miss won 4-2 in the series opener.

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R.J. Hively from Jeff Roberson on Vimeo.

"It's nice to win on Friday," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. "It's been a while."

It's been three weeks, actually. That's when the Rebels beat Arkansas 8-2 to open Grove Bowl weekend. It was during that stretch when it appeared Ole Miss might be going on a patented winning run it's normally had during the Bianco era. The Rebels had six wins in a row in early March, but those were all non-conference games.

The Friday night win against Arkansas was the third of a four-game win streak at the time. The Rebels had defeated Georgia 8-3 in the final game of that series in Athens, and followed that up with a 6-3 win against Mississippi State in Pearl.

After the series-opening win over the Razorbacks, it was a 1-0 final score in the second game of that series for a fourth straight victory.

Since then, they'd gone 4-6 until Friday night's win against the Volunteers. It's a stretch of six remaining regular season games for the Rebels, a critical stretch as they head toward probable postseason play.

Bianco, his team now 32-18 overall and 12-13 in SEC play, saw a lot of good things in this one.

"I thought Bobby was terrific. Of course, R.J. (was) at the end," Bianco said. "I thought Coach (Cliff) Godwin had a good plan. Even though we only scored four runs. I thought we looked good offensively all night long. We got some good swings off."

UT starter Dalton Saberhagen pitched a complete game. The son of former two-time AL Cy Young award winner, three-time MLB All-Star, and World Series MVP Bret Saberhagen, the sophomore left-hander went eight innings and gave up just the four runs. He allowed 11 hits with two strikeouts and two walks, but the Rebels never really had the big inning against him - except for three runs in the second.

"We were able to answer when they scored to keep the momentum," Bianco said. "And (Wahl and Hively) put up some zeroes."

Tennessee, now 24-25 and 8-17, got a run in the top of the second, but that's when Ole Miss answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning. Preston Overbey singled to score Auston Bousfield who had doubled. Blake Newalu then doubled and Overbey moved to third. Tanner Mathis then singled up the middle to score both. p>

R.J. Hively
Bruce Newman

UT got a run in the sixth to cut the UM lead to 3-2 and had a shot at more. A rundown on a double steal as Drew Steckenrider tried to score from third ended the inning when he was tagged out by Will Allen.

The Rebels got the run back in the bottom of the sixth. Bousfield doubled again to lead off, and Will Jamison bunted him to third. Jamison beat the throw from Saberhagen to first and there were Rebels at the corners.

Newalu flied out to center field to score Bousfield. But Mathis and Mistone couldn't reach, and things stood 4-2 after six innings.

Wahl is 6-1 with the win. He went seven complete allowing two runs on five hits with six strikeouts and two walks.

Hively relieved Wahl to start the eighth and faced just six batters, striking out four. It was his third save of the season. He should be available again this weekend if needed.

"I would think," Bianco said. "He could even pitch (Saturday) if we need him."

Mathis, Allen, and Bousfield all had two hits for the Rebels. Overbey came out of the game early.

"(Thursday) in practice he did something to his foot," Bianco said. "We weren't sure if he would be able to play today. It's basically a sprained foot. We took x-rays and rehabbed. He felt better today. Watching him run the bases it looked like he was struggling. After two at-bats we thought it was a good time to get (Will) Jamison in there, a guy that can really run and defend."

Newalu, 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored, played shortstop and was effective. He had been battling shin splints the past couple of weeks and appears to be healthy now.

Mike Mayers (sophomore RHP, 4-2, 4.01 ERA) is scheduled to pitch for the Rebels Saturday in a 4 p.m. game, while UT sends Nick Williams (sophomore RHP, 3-4, 3.67) to the mound.

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