For the second straight game the Razorbacks gave up the lead in the bottom of the eighth as Ole Miss sent the Hogs home with a 3-2 win at the SEC Baseball Tournament.
Head coach Dave Van Horn made several lineup changes for the game, resting catcher Casey Opitz, left fielder Christian Franklin and third baseman Jacob Nesbit. Zack Plunkett was behind the plate. Jordan McFarland took over for Trevor Ezell at first. Ezell moved to second and Jack Kenley went from second to third.
Arkansas was set down in order in the top of the first by Ole Miss starter Gunnar Hoglund. Connor Noland gave up a one-out base hit in the bottom of the inning but a fly ball out was followed by Plunkett’s laser throw to second erasing the baserunner to end the inning.
It was again three up and three down for Arkansas in the second and third while Noland set down the Rebels down in order in both innings.
In the top of the fourth Arkansas finally got a base runner when Ezell took first on a leadoff walk. Matt Goodheart followed with a one-out home run to right center and the Hogs took a 2-0 lead. But Arkansas left two on in the inning and continued a long trend of failing to get the key hit, loading the bases in the fifth only to see Fletcher fly out to left field to end the threat.
Noland was cruising with two out in the fifth when Kevin Graham hit solo home run to right center cutting Arkansas’ lead in half.
The Razorbacks went down in order in the sixth and Kevin Kopps replaced Noland in the bottom of the inning. Noland gave up just two hits in five complete innings on the mound.
Kopps promptly walked the first two batters he faced and Van Horn called on Cody Scoggins try to keep the one-run lead. With one out Arkansas appeared to turn a three-six-one double play to end the inning but the call was overturned on review. Scroggins came right back, inducing a flyball to left and the Hogs went to the seventh with the lead intact.
Ole Miss went to its bullpen with one out in the top of the seventh. Arkansas wiffed on yet another scoring opportunity when Trevor Ezell came up with a two-out base hit and stole second. But Casey Martin struck out to end the threat.
Cole Ramage entered the game in the bottom of the seventh and he tossed a one-two-three inning. Goodheart opened the eighth with a single to right. Fletcher moved him to second on an infield sacrifice. Kjerstad was intentionally walked. Kenley flied out to left center and Nesbit, who entered the game in the sixth, popped out down the first base line as once again the Hogs left a runner in scoring position.
Zebulon Vermillion took over on the mound for Arkansas in the bottom of the eighth. He walked the lead off batter. The Rebels had a runner in scoring position after a bunt sacrifice. Vermillion then hit a batter and Van Horn brought in closer Matt Cronin. Cronin, who had closed out Ole Miss on Tuesday by erasing four straight batters, gave up a game-tying base hit on his first pitch. Ole Miss then took a 3-2 lead on a sacrifice fly to center.
Trevor Ezell reached first one a two-out walk in the ninth but Martin’s hopper to third ended it. Arkansas drops to 41-17 on the season having lost five of its last seven games.