Ole Miss bows out of SEC Tournament in semifinals
HOOVER, Ala. - The Rebels stood toe-to-toe with the No. 1 team in the country on Saturday, but ultimately fell to top-ranked Arkansas by just one run in the fifth and final game of the week for Ole Miss in Hoover. The Rebels, after their third consecutive trip to Saturday’s semifinals round in the SEC Tournament, will now head home after the one-run defeat to the Razorbacks.
The Razorback arms were able to stifle the potent Rebel lineup for most of the afternoon, holding Ole Miss to just two runs on six hits before ultimately emerging victorious by a score of 3-2.
Even in the Rebels’ fifth game of the week with bullpen options limited due to workload, Ole Miss pitchers handled a powerful Arkansas lineup for the better part of the ballgame. Cody Adcock turned in a start to remember, going a career best 4.1 IP and allowing just a pair of runs on a first-inning homer.
Jackson Kimbrell, Wes Burton, and Austin Miller carried the rock the rest of the way, going four complete between the three and allowing just one run in the process. Ultimately, however, the Razorback bullpen was simply too much to overcome in the one-run defeat in Hoover.
Arkansas struck first with a Cayden Wallace double followed by a Cullen Smith home run to make it 2-0 early. The Razorbacks threatened again with a pair of two-out singles in the second, but Adcock struck out Wallace to keep the gap at two.
Adcock worked through another Arkansas scoring opportunity in the third when Christian Franklin tripled on a ball that fell between two diving Rebel outfielders. The freshman starter induced a pop-up and a groundout to end the inning.
Pitching and defense continued to rule the day in the fourth, highlighted by a spectacular play by Hayden Dunhurst. The SEC All-Defense catcher tracked down a foul pop-up and snagged it as he flipped forward into the Arkansas dugout, holding on for the out in a 1-2-3 frame. It appeared as though that play would spark the Rebel bats as Kevin Graham and Tim Elko reached on back-to-back singles to start the bottom half of the fourth, but Arkansas escaped the jam thanks to a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play.
Adcock carried the Rebels into the fifth, where he walked Matt Goodheart and retired Wallace before giving way to Jackson Kimbrell, who escaped the jam, preserving an impressive final line for Adcock in just his second career start. The freshman out of Texarkana, Arkansas, went a career-high 4.1 innings with just two runs allowed on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
Ole Miss finally broke through in the fifth when a Hayden Leatherwood single and a pair of walks loaded the bases for Jacob Gonzalez. The superstar freshman lined a double to right center to tie the game at two—though the Razorbacks escaped the jam without further damage.
Arkansas regained the lead in the top of the sixth on an RBI double by Jalen Battles that snuck just inside the left field line to make it a 3-2 game. It looked as though the Rebels would have an answer when TJ McCants singled to right center to send Leatherwood to third, but the Razorbacks caught the Rebel freshman trying to snag second on the throw for the inning-ending out.
Wes Burton relieved Kimbrell in the seventh and quickly turned in a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. Parker Noland responded for Arkansas out of the bullpen in the bottom half, issuing a walk to Gonzalez but inducing an inning-ending double play to keep the Razorbacks up one, 3-2. The back-and-forth continued as Burton turned in an identical eighth, using a double play to erase a walk and keep it a one-run ballgame.
Burton recorded two outs in the ninth, while Bianco turned to Miller to close the frame who used his wipeout curveball to accomplish the job, holding the game at just a one-run deficit heading into the bottom of the ninth.
The Rebels, however, went 1-2-3 in the game’s final frame to close out the ballgame and another long tournament run for Ole Miss. After three straight years of appearing on Saturday in Hoover, the Rebels will now return home to Swayze and await their postseason fate from the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee.
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