OLE MISS

Ellis, Greenwood Pitch Rebels Past Arkansas

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In the preseason, Mike Bianco said Aaron Greenwood could be their best guy out of the bullpen, the guy who can come in at any point and finish the game, similar to Jake Morgan and Scott Bittle from past Ole Miss teams. 

Greenwood did just that, as he earned his second save of the season with three perfect innings of relief to close out to a 3-2 win in the series opener Friday night against Arkansas.

"If you remember back before the season started, when we talked about who the closer was, we said we didn't really have one right now, but Greenwood can be that guy who can come into this type of game and get you nine outs," Bianco said. "He can come in and not be just the ninth-inning guy. We laughed, Aaron and I, that we didn't know it was going to take until May 2 for that to happen."

Greenwood had posted a scoreless innings streak of 19-plus innings, capped by a career-long 4.2 scoreless innings in an 8-5 win over Auburn before he suffered an abdominal injury. In his first outing back, this past Sunday, he allowed two runs -- one earned -- on three hits in 2.1 innings of relief in a 9-6 win over Kentucky.

After Friday's dominant performance, he said he's feeling back to his old self.

"I'm really close (to 100 percent)," Greenwood said. "Last weekend was a little shaky. I performed well thankfully. This weekend, it felt great to be back out there. I keep getting better every single day."

Ole Miss took a 3-0 lead with a run in the third and two in the fourth before Arkansas had its first of two rallies, in the fifth. The Razorbacks cut the lead to 3-2 with a two-out, 2-RBI triple from Tyler Spoon. After a hit by pitch and walk to load the bases for Arkansas, Chris Ellis got out of it with a groundout to third.

Arkansas threatened again with an error and walk to lead off the sixth. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third, Ellis got a strikeout and shallow fly out to right to strand two more runners.

Ellis, who recorded his fourth straight quality start, allowed two runs -- both earned -- on six hits with three walks and two strikeouts, as he stranded seven Arkansas runners on base. It was fifth straight start to allow two earned runs or fewer.

"My command was not exactly there, but I worked out of it and made pitches when I needed to," Ellis said. "We got hits when we needed to, and certainly Greenwood came in and dominated in the last three innings."

From there, it was all Greenwood. He worked a perfect seventh, eight and ninth, retiring all nine Arkansas batters in order, including four strikeouts. Josh Laxer and Wyatt Short warmed up in the bullpen, but Bianco stayed with Greenwood for the ninth, and he delivered.

"We had those guys ready," Bianco said. "We got them warmed up. When (Greenwood) went in for the seventh, we weren't sure if he could get to the ninth. When he threw at Kentucky, he hadn't pitched, and he got really tired. We weren't sure. We had those guys up and ready to go, but with the way he pitched in seventh and eighth and it looked the ball had a lot of zip on it and it looked like he had all four pitches, he had to do it."

"After the eighth, Coach B came up to me and said, 'You feel good enough to finish?' I said, 'For sure. Yes sir,'" Greenwood said. "(Out there the ninth), it's great because you're out there in front of all these fans -- 9,000 tonight -- and your adrenaline starts pumping. You can tell I was a little wild for a little bit, but I calmed myself back down and made some pitches."


 

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