No. 1 Arkansas blew a big lead on Sunday, but then managed to rally late to defeat No. 3 Ole Miss 18-14 to take the series 2-1.
Kevin Kopps worked three innings to pick up his fifth win in as many decisions. Arkansas (26-5, 9-3) is now in first place in the SEC West. Braden Forsyth (0-1) took the loss.
Arkansas has started slowly in several SEC games, but not on Sunday. They took a 5-0 lead in the top of the second on a pair of home runs. Christian Franklin started the inning off with a walk. Then Casey Opitz singled into left field. Cullen Smith then hit a shot over the fence in center field for a 3-0 advantage. Jalen Battles then lined a single into left field. Braydon Webb then hit a home run over the fence in left field still with no outs.
In the top of the third, Opitz walked with one out. Smith then sent a shot to center field that allowed Opitz to go to third. Battles then singled to left field to score Opitz and Smith advances to second. Webb walked to load the bases. Robert Moore then hit a sacrifice fly that was deep enough to score Opitz and Smith went to third. Matt Goodheart then singled to right field to plate Battles. Cayden Wallace then sent a ball over the fence in left field that also allowed Goodheart and Webb to score. The six runs in the top of the third allowed Arkansas to hold an 11-0 lead.
Ole Miss fought back in the bottom of the third chasing Lael Lockhart. Justin Bench greeted Ryan Costeiu with a three-run shot over the fence in left field to pull within 11-5.
The Rebels got within 11-6 with anohter run added in the bottom of the fifth.
The Hogs then put three runs on the scoreboard in the top of the sixth. Franklin walked to start the inning. He then stole second. Smith walked with one out. Battles then singled to center to plate Franklin and Smith to second base. Webb walked to load the bases. Moore walked with one out and bases loaded forcing Smith home. Goodheart was hit by a pitch allowing Battles to score and push Arkansas up 14-6.
In the botttom of the sixth, Peyton Chatagnier hit a double with the bases loaded to get three runs across the plate. The next batter, Kevin Graham, then hit a Jaxon Wiggins pitch out of the park to make it a 14-11 game.
After the Razorbacks failed to score in the top of the seventh, Ole Miss had its first two batters single against Wiggins. That caused Dave Van Horn to go to the pen and bring in Kopps. Ole Miss tied the game at 14 in bottom of the seventh.
In the top of the eighth, Webb walked and then with one out Goodheart also walked. That set the stage for Brady Slavens and Franklin to be clutch players. Neither had a hit in the game, but Slavens ripped a double off the fence to score Webb and Goodheart. Franklin then singled to plate Slavens for a 17-14 lead. In the top of the ninth, Arkansas added another run when Jacob Nesbit singled when pinch hitting for Smith. He then went to second when Battles walked. Nesbit scored when Webb put down a sacrifice bunt only for the Ole Miss pitcher to throw it away allowing Nesbit to score.
Lockhart worked 2.1 innings allowing four hits, four runs (all earned), a walk, one strikeout, hit a batter, faced 13 hitters, threw 44 pitches with 27 going for strikes. Costeiu went 0.2 inning, allowed a hit, one run (earned), walked one, faced four hitters with 19 pitches and eight were strikes. Caden Monke replaced Costeiu in the bottom of the fourth. Monke worked 2.1 innings allowing one hit, three runs (all earned), two walks, one strikeout, faced nine batters, threw 45 pitches with 26 being strikes. Wiggins worked 0.2 inning, allowed four hits, five runs (all earned), one walk, two strikeouts, faced seven hitters, threw 26 pitches and 17 of them were strikes. Kopps worked 3.0 innings, allowed four hits, one run (earned), a walk, five strikeouts, 14 batters faced, threw 47 pitches and 32 were strikes.
Arkansas will be at Baum-Walker Stadium on Tuesday night to host UAPB beginning at 6:30 p.m.