Long-Ball Win

Ole Miss baseball loves the long ball. The Rebels beat Tennessee 7-4 with it Saturday. But there were also some 20-plus outs of the lineout, popup, or fly out version. Eventually keeping on swinging paid off - twice.

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Trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Sikes Orvis sent a two-run shot out of the ballpark to tie it. In the bottom of the eleventh inning, it was senior Matt Snyder on Senior Day whose blast with a couple already aboard put this one into the "W" column for the Rebels.

"That was awesome. That was special," Snyder said. "My mom and dad are here (from Virginia). Now tomorrow we have a chance to sweep, and that would be huge for us. I can't tell you how awesome it felt to hit that ball."

Ole Miss, now 33-18 on the season and all even at 13-13 in Southeastern Conference play, takes on UT again Sunday at 1:30 p.m. R.J. Hively, who got the save in relief of starter Bobby Wahl on Friday night in a 4-2 UM win, will get the starting nod in game three.

Hively, also a senior, pitched the final two innings of the series opener with four strikeouts in six batters faced. He said Friday night he could go again this weekend. He confirmed that to the coaches on Saturday.

The Rebels now have won their fourth SEC series this season. They haven't swept. They have that chance on Sunday. Tennessee fell to 24-26 overall and 8-18 in SEC play.

Tennessee along with Alabama are eliminated from the SEC Tournament in two weeks in Hoover, Ala. All 10 other SEC teams will be there in the expanded field. The tournament begins Tuesday, May 22.

The Rebels struggled all Saturday to get anything going offensively. Tennessee methodically built its lead with runs in the first, third, and fourth innings. Ole Miss got on the board, finally, in the seventh.

Will Jamison singled to score Auston Bousfield who had reached on a walk. Tanner Mathis grounded out to score Austin Anderson who had gotten aboard with a base hit.

But the Rebels trailed by a run, and time was running short. Tennessee made it more difficult with a solo home run in the top of the ninth by Ethan Bennett off Rebel reliever Tanner Bailey, who had come in for starter Mike Mayers in the fifth.

Rebels comeback to victory
Bruce Newman

In the Rebel ninth after an Anderson single, Sikes Orvis entered to pinch hit for Jamison and promptly tied the game with a home run, the first of his collegiate career.

Still the rookie, Orvis admitted there's a first opportunity, even for postgame interviews.

"This is my first time, so y'all have gotta walk me through this," he said.

Orvis said more but this statement summed his important round-tripper up.

"You can't describe it," he simply said.

Ole Miss could have won the game in "regulation time" with the bases loaded and one out that same inning. But pinch hitter Austin Knight and DH Zach Kirksey both struck out to give the fans in attendance some free baseball.

Brett Huber came in for Ole Miss the final two frames of extra innings and allowed no runs on one hit with a strikeout and a walk. That's when things were set up for Snyder to be the hero the Rebels had been longing for lately.

Mathis walked, and Mistone sac bunted him to second. Alex Yarbrough was intentionally walked, and Snyder came up with visions of grandeur on his mind.

Snyder also wanted to give his younger teammate, Orvis, props for a job well done.

"I was so proud of Sikes," Snyder said. "He's worked so hard. Whenever he gets an opportunity, he gets up there and does everything he can to get a base hit. He reminds me of when I was a freshman. He's worked so hard. When he went up there, I knew he was going to do something special. Nobody deserves it more. I'm so proud of him."

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco was, too.

"Sikes, we feel, is the future Matt Snyder, the guy who is going to be in the middle of the lineup," Bianco said. "He's going to hit and drive guys in."

Huber got the win (2-2). UT reliever Drew Steckenrider (4-6) got the loss.

Tennessee has used only three pitchers in two games. The Rebels have used only five and start one of those – Hively – Sunday.

"Great game; proud of our guys," Bianco said.

The first SEC sweep of the season awaits, if they play well again on Sunday.

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