Protecting a 1-0 lead Friday and three outs away from becoming the all-times saves leader in University of Mississippi baseball history, senior Brett Huber was admittedly a bit nervous and anxious.
"It was probably the most interesting save of my entire career," said Huber, an Althoff High School graduate who survived a bizarre sequence of events to nail down his record-breaking 27th save in 14th-ranked Ole Miss' 1-0 victory over 12th-ranked Texas Christian.
TCU loaded the bases in the ninth with one out on two misplayed bunts, a sacrifice bunt that moved runners to second and third and an intentional walk.
Pinch-hitter Kevin Daniels grounded the ball to first and Ole Miss first baseman Sikes Orvis, who threw to second to hopefully start a double play.
When the runner slid hard into the shortstop, the umpires ruled interference and called out the runner and the batter to end the season-opening game.
"He threw it to second and the guy slid, it was definitely interference," Huber said. "That's the first time that's ever happened to me. It was weird; that was seriously the weirdest inning I've ever thrown."
Huber broke the saves record set by three-time Ole Miss All-American Stephen Head, now a member of the Rebels' coaching staff.
"I'm proud of Huber for hanging in there," Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco told reporters after the game. "You come out there to save the game, and you throw the ball in the strike zone like you're supposed to. He shows why he is the all-time saves leader."
Head was a 2005 second-round pick of the Cleveland Indians. Huber saved the game for Ole Miss ace Bobby Wahl, who struck out eight in 6 1/3 scoreless innings.
"I love it," Huber said of being the closer. "I just really like the pressure situations coming in, being able to get the last three outs They are the hardest outs, but I think that's the most fun time to come into the game."
Huber, 2-2 with a team-leading 10 saves last season, was pitching in his first game since undergoing arm surgery in June. He began throwing at the end of August and slowly worked his way back onto the mound.
"They went in there and got all the bone chips out and moved my nerve," Huber said. "I feel good; I feel really strong."
Huber was proud his parents, Terry and Mary Jo Huber from Belleville, were able to witness the event among a large home crowd of 7,520. Another special visitor was Huber's high school baseball coach at Althoff, Brett Isaacs.
The coaching staff presented the official lineup cards to Huber's parents.
"It felt good, but I had some nerves going last night," Huber said. "We were both ranked and it was a big crowd. Just being back out there for the first game was great."
Huber picked up his second save in as many chances Saturday in the Rebels' 5-2 win over TCU, tossing a scoreless ninth inning with two strikeouts for his 28th save.
Huber has high hopes for the Rebels this season, one of the top teams in the always-loaded Southeastern Conference.
"We want to get to Omaha this year," he said. "That's my main goal and our team's main goal, but it's cool to have your name in the record book for a little while.
"Last night we blanked out the No. 11 team in the country. We have a very special team, but our pitching staff is extremely deep this year and we have so many guys that can throw it."
Huber said his experience told him to remain calm as the seventh inning began to unravel.
"You've just got to keep pounding the strike zone, don't get all mad and get out of your element," he said. "You've got to keep with your mindset and keep with your routine."