OXFORD, Miss. – An early offensive outburst and solid pitching down the stretch from the bullpen proved to be the difference on Saturday as No. 20 Ole Miss (4-1) claimed the weekend series with a 6-4 win over UNC-Wilmington (2-4) at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.
With the lead cut to one at 5-4 in the sixth inning, Casey Mulholland got a groundout to keep the Rebels in front of the visiting Seahawks and send things to the home half of the inning. Auston Bousfield then sent a full count pitch to the wall in left center to score Senquez Golson and extend the Rebel lead back out to two.
Mulholland, Dylan Chavez and Brett Huber then closed out the final 3.0 innings of the game to give the Rebels the series with the 6-4 win over UNC-Wilmington. It was the third save of the season for Huber and second of the weekend, moving the junior right-hander into sole possession of third place on the career save list at Ole Miss with 19 and passing Scott Bittle.
Starter R.J. Hively (1-0) picked up his first win of the season as he worked 5.2 innings and allowed four runs, three earned, on six hits. Hively walked only one batter, while posting a career-high nine strikeouts in the outing.
“R.J. Hively was tremendous on the mound today,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “He was very dominant with his slider. He struck out five of the first six and then we scored five runs. We thought then that we would have a comfortable day, but you have to credit UNC-Wilmington because when we stopped putting pressure on offensively, they started putting pressure on us. We have to have a little more focus.
“Wilmington was able to get some big hits when they needed them and they put a big inning together in the sixth,” Bianco said. “I am proud of the way Casey Mulholland came in and handled the situation. (Dylan) Chavez and (Brett) Huber knew we were trying hard not to use them, but I thought it was good that they got to pitch back to back days. They both looked strong.”
Bousfield was one of three Rebels to post multiple hits on the afternoon, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Matt Snyder also posted a 3-for-4 performance with three RBI, while freshman Golson went 2-for-2 with two runs scored and was hit by a pitch to reach base safely three times on the afternoon.
Ole Miss struck first, pushing three runs across the plate in the first inning when Snyder came up with a bases loaded double to score Tanner Mathis, Bousfield an Alex Yarbrough. A walk, a single and a walk put all three batters on base to open the game before the Snyder hit.
Yarbrough added to the Rebel lead in the second inning with a two-RBI single to right field that scored Golson and Mathis. Golson was hit by a pitch to reach before a walk of Mathis put two men on. A double steal moved both runners into scoring position for the Yarbrough hit that gave the Rebels the 5-0 lead.
UNC-Wilmington responded in the fifth inning, when Matt Campbell scored from second on a single to right from Jake Koenig. Campbell reached on a single to left and took second on an errant throw that sailed wide of the second baseman on the relay back to the infield. Campbell then scored two batters later when Koenig came up with the single through the right side to make the score 5-1.
The Seahawks cut into the lead more in the sixth inning, plating three runs to trim the score to one run in favor of the Rebels. Following back-to-back strikeouts to open the inning, Wilmington got a single from Hunter Ridge and a triple from Thomas Pope to push the first run home. Pope then scored on a wild pitch before Campbell reached on a walk and Ole Miss went to the bullpen for Mulholland.
Mulholland gave up a double to center from Corey Dick that scored Campbell from third before the freshman right hander would get the Rebels out of the inning on a grounder to short from Koenig with the Rebels up 5-4.
Bousfield then came up with his RBI double in the sixth to push the lead back out to two runs and the Rebel pitching staff closed things out from there for the series win.
Ole Miss and UNC-Wilmington will close out the series at noon on Sunday at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.
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