Mayers, Massie Key Win In SEC Tourney Opener

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WHAT HAPPENED VS. KENTUCKY: On four days' rest, junior right-hander Mike Mayers pitched a gem, giving up one run (unearned) on six hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in 6.1 innings of work, as No. 6 seed Ole Miss won its SEC Tournament opener 4-1 against No. 11 seed Kentucky.

"On short rest, the talking point after the game is how terrific Mike Mayers was," head coach Mike Bianco said. "I don't know if we have another guy who can do what Mike just did. It probably worked out better than we imagine; he was terrific today."

Kentucky threatened in the top of seventh, loading the bases, but junior left-hander Jeremy Massie got out of the inning with an infield fly popup and a groundout. In all, Massie allowed one hit with one walk in 1.2 scoreless innings.

"Jeremy Massie came in with a tough position with the tying run at the plate," Bianco said. "They get a swinging bunt, but he was super composed and gets the pop up and ground ball to get out of (the 7th inning)."

Offensively, the Ole Miss offense pounded out 11 hits, including four doubles, as eight of the nine starters recorded hits during the game. The top four in the order were 4-of-14 with two doubles and two RBI. The Rebels scored a run in the first and third, then two in the sixth.

"It was nice to watch guys continue to swing after coming off the last two games at LSU where we swung it pretty well," Bianco said.

Ole Miss advances to play No. 3 seed Arkansas tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. CT. The game will be televised on CSS and will be streamed online on ESPN3.

MAYERS ON SHORT REST: Mike Mayers made his second-straight start on four days' rest after throwing 105 pitches in a 7-1 loss to LSU this past Thursday and 94 pitches in a 3-0 win against Mississippi State the previous Saturday.

"I felt fine," Mayers said. "I think people make a bigger deal on short rest. You grew up, and nobody ever cared about rest. In the big leagues, you throw 200-plus innings. I stayed on the same routine I have been on the last two weeks. 

"It was one of those days. My fastball command was there. I really pride myself on fastball command and pitch off of that. When my fast ball command is there, coach Mike Bianco does the rest, and Stu(art) Turner does a great job behind the plate."

PITCHING PLAN GOING FORWARD: Mike Bianco did not announce a starter for Wednesday's game against Arkansas. He Bianco said on Monday junior right-hander Bobby Wahl won't start Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, but may work out of the bullpen.

"We'll have to see," Bianco said of the pitching plan. "We'll go back. (Sam) Smith threw a little short work today. We'll talk to Coach Lafferty and see how that went prior to the game and look at that. There are some things running through our head, and how we are going to use Bobby this week.

"It has more to do with health and setting up for next week, and remaining sure you can win the next game."

ANOTHER FAMILIAR FOE IN ARKANSAS: Ole Miss and Arkansas met in a three-game series in March in Fayetteville with the Rebels winning two of three to open Southeastern Conference play. Ole Miss won the series opener 7-1, then Arkansas evened the series with a 10-1 win in game two. In the series finale, Ole Miss won 6-4 in 13 innings.

"I thought we got them at a good time," Bianco said of the earlier series against Arkansas. "(Ryne) Stanek wasn't pitching as well. Dominic (Ficociello), he was playing in the series, but certainly hurt. It was good timing on our part. 

"You don't finish third in this league unless you're very, very good. Of course, they're outstanding on the mound. They have one of the best pitching staffs in the country, so it will be a good challenge for our offense."

Ole Miss also played Arkansas in last year's SEC Tournament, where it won 2-0 and eliminated the Razorbacks.

ASTIN TO START FOR ARKANSAS: Junior right-hander Barrett Astin will get the start for Arkansas. In his last outing, a start against Auburn this past Thursday, he took the loss, as he allowed three runs on nine hits with a walk and seven strikeouts in 6.1 innings.

"He threw Thursday," Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. "He's probably, obviously, our freshest starter. Give him about five days rest."

He pitched 2.2 innings of relief against Ole Miss earlier this year, giving up one run on four hits with a strikeout. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder enters Wednesday's contest with a 4-4 record to go along with a 2.02 ERA, .254 B/AVG, 1.22 WHIP and 63-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

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