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No. 22 Rebels start second half of SEC play with series win

Photo by Tyler Jackson
Tyler Jackson | The Daily Mississippian

SUNDAY: No. 15 ARKANSAS 11, No. 22 OLE MISS 3

With their backs against the wall, No. 15 Arkansas (28-12, 9-9 SEC) came out swinging on their way to an 11-3 win over No. 22 Ole Miss (27-13, 9-9 SEC) in Sunday’s series finale to salvage a game before heading home.

The Razorbacks put up four runs in the first inning and three more in the second to end freshman right-hander Sam Smith’s first career Southeastern Conference start in a hurry.

“I thought it was a great day by them,” head coach Mike Bianco said. “I thought they swung it terrific. When you give up seven runs in the first two innings, it’s tough. We swung it all right, but early on we couldn’t get the big base hit to score some runs and have that big inning to get back into the game.”

Smith lasted just one inning, giving up five runs on six hits. His replacement was freshman right-hander Chris Ellis, who went 2.1 innings. Ellis gave up three runs on four hits and a walk to go along with three strikeouts. 

Ole Miss got on the board in the third with a walk and back-to-back singles by junior second baseman Alex Yarbrough and senior first baseman Matt Snyder, who drove in the run.

Yarbrough was 3-for-4 on the day to extend his hit streak to 19 games, which is sixth all-time in Rebel baseball history. 

Arkansas extended the lead with a run in the fourth and sixth innings and two runs in the seventh. The Rebels got a run in the seventh on a double play ball off the bat of Snyder with the bases loaded and another in the ninth on an RBI single by freshman first baseman Sikes Orvis.

After Ellis left the game, freshman right-hander Hawtin Buchanan pitched 2.2 innings giving up a run. Junior right-hander Blair Wright gave up two runs in 0.2 innings of work, and freshman right-hander Josh Laxer closed things out pitching 2.1 innings giving up just two hits. 

Junior right-handed closer Brett Huber did not pitch all weekend, and Bianco said he has a tender elbow. There is no timetable for his return. 

SATURDAY: No. 22 OLE MISS 1, No. 15 ARKANSAS 0 

In the second game of the day, head coach Mike Bianco’s decision to put senior right-hander R.J. Hively in the bullpen worked to perfection as No. 22 Ole Miss (27-12, 9-8 SEC) outdueled No. 15 Arkansas (27-12, 8-9 SEC) 1-0 in a nail-biter to clinch the series win.

“In general, just a great day,” Bianco said about getting two wins. “It was a good job by us to finish out the first game and come out the second game.”

Sophomore right-handers Mike Mayers for the Rebels and Ryne Stanek for the Razorbacks dueled back and forth for much of the day, but it was Ole Miss who was able to break through.

“Stanek is so good, but I thought Mayers matched him pitch for pitch,” Bianco said.

In the sixth, junior third baseman Andrew Mistone led off the inning with a single. He advanced from first to second, then second to third on two consecutive sacrifice bunts where he was driven in on a single by junior second baseman Alex Yarbrough to break the scoreless streak.

“In that kind of game against a guy like Stanek, a guy that’s going to pitch in the big leagues, can you get a guy in scoring position with your best hitters at the plate,” Bianco said.

Arkansas came back in the seventh and had two on with just one out when Bianco opted to bring in Hively, who has started every weekend this season. Mayers pitched 6.1 innings giving up just two hits and two walks, while striking out four.

On Hively’s first pitch, he got a huge double play to end the threat. Hively went on to pitch the last two innings without giving up a hit and recording three strikeouts, all of which came in the ninth.

“I love it,” Hively said. “There’s nothing better than coming in with the game on the line, and it’s yourself versus the other man. Mike Mayers pitched a great game, and I just didn’t want to ruin it for him.”

FRIDAY/SATURDAY: No. 22 OLE MISS 8, No. 15 ARKANSAS 2

It took two days, but No. 22 Ole Miss (26-12, 8-8 SEC) got an 8-2 win over No. 15 Arkansas (27-11, 8-8 SEC) in the first game of the weekend after rain forced a break in the action during the fourth inning.

“I feel like we’re just playing our game now,” sophomore right-hander Aaron Greenwood said. “Everything’s coming together. It feels great.”

The Rebels jumped out in front early with two runs in the first on a two-run home run off the bat of senior first baseman Matt Snyder to straight away center field. 

Arkansas got a run back with a solo home run from senior right fielder Sam Bates, but Ole Miss got three more in the second on an RBI single from junior left fielder Tanner Mathis and a two-run double from junior second baseman Alex Yarbrough. 

Senior designated hitter Zach Kirksey got an RBI of his own in the third inning to make it 6-1 in favor of Ole Miss.

Then, the rain came. The game was postponed in the middle of the fourth inning until Saturday afternoon.

When play resumed, Ole Miss added a run in the fifth on Snyder’s second home run of the game and in the sixth on an RBI double by Yarbrough. Snyder finished the game 2-for-4 with a pair of home runs and three RBI, while Yarbrough was 4-for-5 with three RBI.

Arkansas added a run on a solo shot from sophomore designated hitter Jimmy Bosco off sophomore right-hander Aaron Greenwood, who began pitching when play resumed Saturday. Greenwood went 2.2 innings giving up just one run on three hits while recording four strikeouts. 

“They tell me before I went in to just pound the zone and let the defense work,” Greenwood said. “They made some great plays behind me.”

Freshman right-hander Hawtin Buchanan, junior left-hander Dylan Chavez and junior right-hander Tanner Bailey combined for 2.2 innings of no-hit baseball to end the game.