FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Those hoping to see Ole Miss baseball take on the No. 10 ranked Razorbacks this weekend were probably a bit surprised to find the series was over by Friday evening.
With 12 to 15 inches of rain predicted for Saturday in Fayetteville, the Rebels and Hogs beat the storms by playing a double-header on Friday, following the first game of the series they played on Thursday.
This marked the first time in the Mike Bianco era at Ole Miss the Rebels didn’t play on Saturday or Sunday of an SEC series weekend, but we doubt Coach B. is complaining, as his Rebs took the series from Arkansas, 2-1.
Thursday night: Ole Miss 9, Arkansas 1
(Click here for box score.)
Behind an eight-inning, one-hit gem of a pitching performance by James McArthur, the Rebels drew first blood Thursday night and never looked back.
The tall sophomore from Texas struck out six Arkansas batters and allowed only two walks. McArthur, who was awarded the coveted red hard-hat for his performance and contribution to the win, said afterwards that he felt it was his best game of the season.
According to the stadium scoreboard, McArthur’s fastball was clocked at 91 miles per hour.
“But it looks a little bit harder to the hitters,” Razorbacks head coach Dave Van Horn said after the loss.
“It’s a little hard to pick up. He just kind of kept us off-balance and worked ahead the whole night.”
Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn on Ole Miss pitcher James McArthur
Ole Miss designated hitter Tim Rowe homered on a change-up in the second inning after an infield single by sophomore first baseman Nick Fortes. It was Rowe’s fourth home run of the season.
After the game, Rowe discussed what the Rebels need to do moving forward: “We just gotta have faith in our bats and our pitching.”
The game Thursday night stayed close, with Arkansas notching a solo home run to lead off the fifth inning, but in the eighth the Rebels tacked on three runs when captain Colby Bortles homered to left. He scored Will Golsan who was on base with a single. Also in the eighth inning, Rowe recorded his third RBI of the game, plating centerfielder Ryan Olenek who doubled after the Bortles homer.
Ole Miss went on to add five runs in the ninth inning, effectively putting the game out of reach for the Hogs. Second baseman and captain Tate Blackman continued his hot streak at the plate with his seventh four-bagger of the year. Two batters later, third baseman Bortles slugged his second bomb–and third and fourth RBI of the game.
Freshman Will Ethridge continued to amaze from the mound, allowing no runs on one hit in the ninth inning, non-save opportunity to close out the Hogs with the 9-2 Rebels’ win.
Friday – Game 1: Ole Miss 4, Arkansas 1
(Click here for box score.)
In their first double-header of the season, Ole Miss returned to the field a mere 15 hours after their Thursday night game ended. The Arkansas Media Relations staff was comical about the expected rain to northwest Arkansas noting, “The rain . . . its a comin.’”
The Rebels got off to a hot start, scoring four in the first inning and never relinquishing the lead. Runs were scored by Tate Blackman, who led off the game with single; Colby Bortles, who also singled; Will Golsan, who was hit by an errant pitch; and Nick Fortes, who doubled.
RBIs were recorded by Bortles, Fortes (2), and freshman catcher Cooper Johnson who singled home Fortes.
This season, four runs has been the Rebels “magic number” needed to secure a victory, and that trend continued this game.
Ole Miss scattered five more hits in the game, but scored no more runs. That wouldn’t matter as Arkansas never really threatened the Rebel lead. The lone Hog run came from a home run in the fifth inning.
Starter Ryan Rolison, the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week, went six strong innings before turning the game over to fellow freshman Will Ethridge who threw a scoreless 1 ⅓ innings. Closer Dallas Woolfolk went 1 ⅔ innings, allowing only one hit to close the game. Rolison earned the win and improved to 6-2, overall, and 3-2 in the SEC. His conference earned run average dropped to a sizzling 2.08 in league play.
By taking the first game of the doubleheader Friday, the Rebels clinched the series, their fourth conference series of the year.
Friday – Game 2: Ole Miss 4, Arkansas 7
(Click here for box score.)
In the third game, Ole Miss again scored first as Tate Blackman notched a lead-off home run. The Rebels have scored in the first inning in six of their last eight games.
The home run parade continued in the second with Thomas Dillard sending the ball over the fence down the left field line. Freshman catcher Cooper Johnson scored on a wild pitch after being walked and advancing to third on a Grae Kissinger double.
After they scored one run in the first inning and two in the second to take a 3-0 lead, the Rebels allowed the Razorbacks to score two in the third inning to cut the Ole Miss lead to 3-2. Arkansas then scored two in the fifth inning to take a 4-3 lead over the Rebels.
Ole Miss fought back and plated one run in the seventh to tie the game, as Tate Blackman, on base via a lead-off double, scored off an RBI single by Bortles.
In the eighth inning, however, Ole Miss allowed the Hogs to add three runs–a lead the home team would not relinquish.
Starter David Parkinson pitched 4 ⅔ innings for the Rebels, allowing four runs on four hits and three walks. Middle reliever Brady Feigl looked solid, allowing only one hit in 2 ⅓ innings worked.
Following the series win, Ole Miss improves to 11-10 in SEC play, 27-17 overall. Arkansas drops to 13-8 in league play, 34-12 overall.
Next up for Ole Miss
The Rebels return to the friendly confines of Swayze Field for a mid-week, two-game series against Louisiana-Monroe, beginning Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. (CT), followed by a “ditch-work-early” special at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday.
Ole Miss then heads south to Gainesville to face the Top 10 Florida Gators in a Friday-Saturday-Sunday series with start times of 5:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 1:00 p.m. (all CT), respectively.