Moving On

HOOVER, Ala. – The goal is moving on which they did. Beyond that, there was some admitted relief for Ole Miss as the Rebels beat Arkansas 2-0 to advance to Thursday and eliminate the Razorbacks from the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

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"When (Brett) Huber got that last out today, it felt good," said Alex Yarbrough, himself in a bit of a struggling situation recently. "We felt a little bit of relief, and we knew Mike Mayers was going to go out and throw well just like he always does. We knew he was going to throw strikes, and we just had to play defense behind him."

The Rebels improved to 35-23 on the season, while Arkansas went home 39-19 to await their NCAA Tournament selection. Ole Miss plays Thursday at 9:30 a.m. against LSU, which lost 3-2 to Mississippi State Wednesday.

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco also admitted his team felt some relief after snapping a five-game losing streak. Ten days ago the Rebels were 34-18.

"I'd love to say no, but the truth is yes," Bianco said of a sense of relief throughout the Rebel clubhouse with the win. "Walking off the field that Sunday against Tennessee (following a sweep), you're feeling pretty good about yourself. All of a sudden you have a tough game at Arkansas State. You don't play terrible at Vanderbilt but you don't play great, and they play terrific. Then a tough game for us yesterday (a loss to Kentucky).

"When you're in the SEC, we've always said that it's a very unforgiving league," Bianco continued. "You have to play well to win or you lose in this league. That's every weekend. So it was a relief to play well again and have some success. It was one of those grind it out games. We just hung in there, and in all three phases of the game I thought we played pretty well."

Ole Miss loaded the bases on three occasions, got only one run home in those three situations, and left 10 runners stranded on the day. The first run came on a leadoff Zach Kirskey triple in the fourth followed by a Sikes Orvis ground out that got him home.

Brett Huber
Bruce Newman

Ole Miss added its second run in the seventh. Tanner Mathis, Yarbrough, and Matt Snyder loaded the bases with singles. Kirksey flew out to center field to make it 2-0. But a double play next ended the threat.

Hanging In There

Yarbrough went 3-for-4 in the contest. It was his best production in several games.

"I feel really good," he said. "The lineout to the second baseman (in his second at-bat which came in the third inning) may be the best ball I hit all day. I got to be on base again today, and that felt good."

Yarbrough, batting above .400 most of the season, said it hasn't been anything in particular lately. His average has dropped to a still stellar .387 after some rough patches. But he felt it was a matter of time before things turned again in his favor.

"My swing hasn't felt bad," he said. "My approach hasn't been bad. The hits just haven't been there. I haven't struck out but like once, and I've felt good the whole time. But I had some balls fall today, and that felt really good."

Enough Already Say Hogs

Mayers (5-3) has made an impression on Arkansas. The Razorbacks are two of his five wins this season. He started a 1-0 win on Grove Bowl Saturday in Oxford, and followed that up with another shutout here.

"Mayers is outstanding. We didn't score on him in the regular season either," said Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn.

Razorback second baseman Bo Bigham has seen enough of Mayers.

"He's mixes his pitches really well. You can't sit on anything," Bigham said. "He throws all his pitches for strikes. He just keeps the hitters guessing and he's been tough on us."

Mayers said both days he's pitched against the Hogs he's been at his best.

"They have a good lineup," he said. "It's just one of those things where I've felt good both times I've gone out there and made sure I filled up the zone and made good pitches."

Bianco said Mayers has been consistent and a real factor in the Rebels' success this season.

"He's pitched mostly in the two spot, although he was on Sunday earlier in the year,' Bianco said. "It's hard for me to think of days that he's just had a bad day. Mike gives you a shot to win. In games like this, he has days when he just absolutely shuts them down. Sometimes I look down at his record and I'm shocked he's got only five wins. He's deserved a lot better than what he's got."

Mayers said he didn't necessarily feel any more pressure given that it was an elimination game from the tournament.

Whatever It Takes
Bruce Newman

"It's just one of those things," he said. "You grew up wanting the ball in bigtime situations. It just happens to be I haven't been that guy since I've been here. But it's no different than when you're in high school You always pitch the big game, and that's really in any sport, you're always the guy in the big moment. That doesn't change when you get here. It's just another game, and that's how you treat it."

Mayers worked 7.0 innings, striking out eight and walking one while scattering five hits across his time on the mound. The right-hander has now pitched 13.1 scoreless innings against Arkansas in the two games combined.

Closing Time

Brett Huber picked up his 10th save of the season and 26th of his career to tie the school's all-time save record, matching the total put up by three-time All-American Stephen Head from 2003-05. Huber worked the final 2.0 innings of the game with a hit and three strikeouts.

Bianco said Huber has been at the top of his game lately for the Rebels in the closer role.

"Today he hit 94 or 95 with his fast ball," he said. "Good command, great fastball, great slider. He's been as good the last few weeks as any time in his career. Obviously tying the record is very good. He's been special the last couple of weeks."

Huber said tying Head's record is special, and getting the save to help preserve another victory special as well.

"It's an honor," Huber said. "He's a three-time All-American. It's exciting to have my name up there with someone like that."

Who Starts Thursday?

Bianco said it isn't a certainty R.J. Hively will start Thursday.

"R.J. has some tenderness and we'll check on that," he said. "He wasn't available to pitch today. We've leaned on him a lot the last couple of weeks of the season. So well see. If he can't go, there are several options. It may be something we don't know until tomorrow morning. It's just normal soreness and he's felt better every day And he's thrown."

Bianco was asked if his team needed a win here to advance to the NCAA Tournament.

"I think every time you win it's important. You get closer," he said. "Only those 10 guys know that pick it. I'll say this, if you look at our resume' it's pretty darn good. Probably the most unfavorable thing is probably the last five games. But look at RPI and look at big wins, and I think it's pretty good. But every time you can win is another notch on that resume'."

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