No. 14 Ole Miss completes sweep over No. 21 Arkansas with 8-7 victory in game three
OXFORD – After a two-run homer by the Razorbacks’ Michael Bernal cut the Arkansas deficit to one run in the top of the ninth inning, Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco called Will Stokes out of the Rebels’ bullpen.
And for good reason.
Stokes calmly struck out Rick Nomura and then got Tucker Pennell to ground out to Colby Bortles to seal the 8-7 victory for the 14th-ranked Rebels and complete the weekend sweep over the 21st-ranked Razorbacks (20-12, 4-8 Southeastern Conference) on Sunday afternoon at Swayze Field.
The Rebels (25-7, 6-6) have now won five straight games. It was Ole Miss’ third three-game sweep of the season and first sweep in SEC play since defeating Mississippi State last season. It was also the first time Ole Miss has swept Arkansas since 2009 as well as the first time in school history at Swayze Field.
In the midst of the sweep, Stokes recorded his fourth save on the season.
“We talked about it beforehand,” said Bianco on whether Stokes would come in to close the game. “And he said, ‘I think I’m able to go. I think I can give you one.’ And when we got to that point late in the game, we sat him down in the eighth and told him to start to throw and just see.
“We had Connor Green up as well and Stokes said ‘Yeah, I’m good. I can go.’ Once the tying run got to the plate, Stokes would take the ball.”
Ole Miss held an 8-5 lead heading into the top of the ninth with Chad Smith on the mound. But after Bernal’s two-run homer, Bianco turned to Stokes to take control on the mound.
There were a few scares early on where Ole Miss saw its lead trimmed to one run, but the Rebels broke through in the bottom of the seventh inning with Will Golsan’s single to center field that led to scores from Henri Lartigue and Bortles. Golsan was 2 for 4 at bat with a career-high four RBIs.
“Just tried to keep the swings short,” Golsan said. “Just tried to keep the ball flat and hit the ball hard somewhere.”
Rebels jump out to early lead
Ole Miss jumped out to a 4-0 lead over the Razorbacks in the bottom of the second. Henri Lartigue and Michael Fitzsimmons each drew walks and were driven in by Will Golsan’s double down the left field line. Moments later, J.B. Woodman hammered his fifth home run on the season—a shot to right field—with Errol Robinson on base.
Woodman has hit one home run every 22 at bats this season. Last season, he homered once every 30.3 at bats (seven in 212 ABs).
Wyatt Short makes his first career start
Ole Miss starting pitcher Wyatt Short held the Razorbacks scoreless through the first four innings. In the fifth inning, the Hogs notched three runs to the Rebels’ two, making it 6-3, Ole Miss, after five complete.
It was Short’s first start since his days at Southaven High School and he admitted he didn’t get any sleep the night prior.
“Honestly, I wasn’t feeling my best today,” said Short, who admitted he was excited about the start. “My arm wasn’t feeling the best.”
After Coach Bianco saw the Razorbacks cut the Ole Miss lead to 4-3, he soon turned to Andy Pagnozzi to take the mound with one out on the scoreboard. Pagnozzi (5-1) got Nomura to strike out looking and Pennell to strike out swinging to end the top of the fifth and preserve the Rebels’ lead, 4-3.
The Rebels returned the scoring favor in the bottom half of the fifth inning with Tate Blackman’s single to left center field, which scored Connor Cloyd. Arkansas’ junior RHP Dominic Taccolini then landed a hard fast ball on Fitzsimmons with the Ole Miss bases loaded that scored Woodman and gave the Rebels a 6-3 lead.
Pagnozzi picks up the win
The Razorbacks used six pitchers in the game, with Loseke (1-2) taking the loss.
For the Rebels, Andy Pagnozzi (5-1) picked up the win after 2.1 innings of work in relief. With a margin of one run in the ninth inning, Will Stokes picked up his fourth save.
Rebels’ solid at the plate
The Rebels totaled 12 hits in Sunday’s game and were solid at the plate throughout the series. Preparation and patience were the key for the Rebels’ successful batting as they hit .353 (12-34) in the third game.
“I think all of the hitting was good today,” Bianco said. “I thought we looked like we have for the last four or five games. We have really swung it well.”
Ole Miss hosts Southern Miss on Wednesday (6:30 p.m. CST, SECN+).
Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics