Break out the brooms Ole Miss finishes sweep of Tennessee

Published 11:27 am Monday, May 14, 2012

R.J. Hively’s successful double dip gave Ole Miss a much-needed sweep of Tennessee.

Hively allowed two unearned runs in five solid innings Sunday, and the Rebels won their third straight game against Tennessee, 4-2.

Hively (5-4) struck out five, allowed four hits and walked one batter. He also threw two scoreless innings to get a save in Friday’s series opener.

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“R.J. gave us a boost early. He put up some zeroes,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “We only gave up two runs, both of which were unearned. It was a tough day offensively, We struggled all day but we did enough to win the game.”

With the sweep and Sunday’s other results, Ole Miss (34-18, 14-13) moved into sole possession of fifth place in the Southeastern Conference. The Rebels are second in the Western Division behind LSU, which is three games ahead with three to play.

Ole Miss has clinched a spot in the SEC Tournament. It will finish the regular season with a midweek game at Arkansas State on Tuesday, then a three-game series at Vanderbilt beginning Thursday.

Tennessee (24-27, 8-19) was eliminated from contention for the SEC Tournament over the weekend.

“I’ll be honest, I think after yesterday, knowing that we were mathematically eliminated, I saw the toll it took on our guys,” Tennessee coach Dave Serrano said. “I told them before the game that we are going to finish this thing the right way. Everything that we do good is building towards the future of this program and I’m in it for the long haul, not just the short term.”

Both of Tennessee’s runs were unearned. Two errors by Ole Miss set up Chris Fritts’ RBI double in the first inning, and Zach Luther walked and eventually scored on a throwing error in the fifth.

Tennessee had a chance for more in the fifth inning, but Will Maddox was caught in a rundown between home and third and tagged for the final out.

Will Allen drove in two runs on sacrifice flies for Ole Miss, one in the first inning and the other in the seventh. The Rebels also scored twice in the bottom of the second inning on RBI singles by Preston Overbey and Andrew Mistone.

That was enough for the Rebels’ pitchers. Aaron Greenwood followed Hively with 32⁄3 innings of scoreless relief, and Brett Huber got the last out in the ninth for his ninth save of the season.

The three Ole Miss pitchers combined for nine strikeouts and two walks. Tennessee totaled just four hits in the game, none of them after the fifth inning. The only batter who reached base against Ole Miss’ bullpen was Steve Weaver, who drew a two-out walk in the ninth inning.

Huber’s save was the 25th of his career. He’s second on Ole Miss’ all-time list, and one behind Stephen Head for first place.

Vanderbilt 5, LSU 4

Tony Kemp drove in the go-ahead run with a single in the top of the 10th inning, and Vanderbilt (26-25, 13-14 SEC) beat LSU to take the weekend series in Baton Rouge.

Vanderbilt moved above .500 for the first time this season and has won five consecutive series against LSU.

Vanderbilt’s Mike Yastrzemski had two hits, including a solo home run in the ninth inning that tied the game at 4. Jack Lupo went 3-for-5 with an RBI and three stolen bases.

Austin Nola went 2-for-2 with two RBIs for LSU (39-13, 17-10).

“This loss stings a lot; it’s our toughest loss of the season,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri.