Courtesy: Zach Lawson, Athletic Media Relations
OXFORD, Miss. – The No. 10 University of Arkansas baseball team exploded for 10 runs over the final three innings in an 11-4 win over No. 11 Ole Miss Friday night at Oxford-University Stadium.Brett Eibner hit his 17th home run of the season, a go-ahead blast in the seventh to spark the club’s offensive barrage. Tim Carver added a two-run shot in the eighth and Travis Sample came off the bench to hit a grand slam to seal the victory in the ninth.
Drew Smyly gave up two runs in six innings on his way to his eighth win of the season. Zack Cox tallied his 30th multi-hit game of the season with a 3-for-3 effort at the plate. James McCann and Carver also had three hits in the Hogs’ victory. With the win, the Razorbacks move back into sole possession of first place in the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference.
Arkansas (36-10, 15-7 SEC) pegged Ole Miss starter Drew Pomeranz for a run in the top of the second to take the early advantage. With one down, Monk Kreder, the Hogs’ designated hitter, doubled off the fence in left field. McCann followed by ripping an RBI single into center field to plate Kreder. McCann has now hit safely in 12 of his last 14 ballgames.
The home team responded to even the score in its half of the second. Smyly retired the first two hitters of the inning but gave up a solo home run to Taylor Hashman. The Rebels’ next hitter, Taylor Hightower, extended the frame with a single to center, but Smyly struck out Miles Hamblin to get out of the inning without allowing any further damage. The Razorback hurler finished the night with six strikeouts.
The Razorbacks threatened to regain the lead with a two-out push in the third. Cox picked up his second hit of the game, a single to center, and Eibner was plunked by Pomeranz to give Arkansas runners on first and second. However, the Ole Miss ace ended the threat with a strikeout and the score stayed tied, 1-1.
Ole Miss (33-14, 14-8 SEC) took the lead in the fourth on an RBI groundout by Alex Yarbrough. Zach Miller led off the frame with a double down the line in left field. After a stolen base, he stood on third and came in to score on the groundball off the bat of Yarbrough. Cox made a nice play on the ball, backhanding the chopper behind the third-base bag and making the long throw across the diamond to record the out. Smyly worked around another double to retire the side, but the Rebels took a 2-1 lead into the fifth.
Both teams put a runner on in the fifth but neither could cash in. In the Razorbacks’ half, Cox posted his third hit, a single through the right side, with two outs but was left stranded. In the bottom of the inning, Matt Smith doubled to left center, again, with two outs but Smyly struck out Matt Snyder to end the frame.
In the sixth, his final inning of work, Smyly retired Ole Miss on 10 pitches to get the Hogs back to the plate. Collin Kuhn got things started with a chopper over the third baseman’s head and motored into second with a stand-up double. After a flyout by Bo Bigham advanced Kuhn to third, Cox drew an intentional walk, his fifth of the season. With runners on the corners, Eibner belted a 1-1 offering from Pomeranz over the fence in center field to give Arkansas a 4-2 advantage. The home run is his eighth in the past 12 games and 37th of his career.
The Razorbacks tacked on two runs in the top of the eighth. Kreder singled to center to lead off the inning; Kyle Atkins came in to pinch run. McCann laid down a sacrifice to move the runner to second and Carver took care of the scoring with his fourth home run of the season, a two-run liner into the Ole Miss bullpen beyond the fence in left field.
Smith cut Arkansas’ lead in half with a two-run shot off reliever Mike Bolsinger in the home half of the eighth. After a leadoff single by Kevin Mort, Smith hit his 11th home run of the season to bring the Rebels to within two. Later in the inning, Jordan Pratt came in out of the bullpen after Bolsinger was hit in the leg by a line-drive off the bat off Snyder. Pratt closed the game to earn his first save. He struck out four Rebels in 1.2 innings of work.
The Hogs sealed the deal with a five-run ninth inning. With one out and the bases full of Razorbacks, Sample stepped to the plate for his first at-bat of the game and snuck the ball over the fence in right field for the grand slam. Kuhn tacked on Arkansas’ final run with an RBI single to plate Carver.
Game two of the weekend series between Arkansas and Ole Miss is slated for a 7 p.m. start Saturday at Oxford-University Stadium. The ballgame will be televised by ESPNU with Clay Matvick and Kyle Peterson in the booth for the call. The Razorbacks will hand the ball to RHP DJ Baxendale (0-0, 3.79 ERA) and the Rebels will counter with RHP Aaron Barrett (6-2, 3.72 ERA).