Two seed Arkansas and seven seed Ole Miss changed leads three times but Jack Kenley came up big at the plate and Matt Cronin recorded another save as the Razorbacks moved to the third round of the SEC Baseball Tournament with a 5-3 win over the Rebels.
Patrick Wicklander got the start for Arkansas. He hit a batter in the top of the first but he got out of the inning with no damage picking up his first two strikeouts of the game in the frame. The Hogs took an early lead in the bottom of the first. After Casey Martin walked Dominic Fletcher hit a weak single to right. The speedy Martin came all the way around to score.
Wicklander continued to work out of trouble in the second and third innings. He beaned another batter in the second and immediately unloaded a wild pitch. But the Rebels’ base runner got no farther than second as Wicklander ended the threat with his third strike out of the game. He also survived a lead off double in the third.
Arkansas added to its lead in the bottom of the third. Jacob Nesbit opened with a lead off double. He would eventually reach third where he scored on a one-out sacrifice for a 2-0 Arkansas margin.
But that lead would vanish in the 5th. Wicklander gave up a lead off base hit to Anthony Servideo followed by another wild pitch. This time it hurt him. Servideo stole 3rd. Head coach Dave Van Horn then pulled Wicklander and Kevin Kopps gave up an RBI single to Thomas Dillard. Ole Miss tied it up on a sacrifice fly.
The Rebels took the lead in the 6th. A wild pitch on a strikeout put Cole Zabowski on first. A ball off of Kopps’ leg led to an infield single. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third followed by another infield sacrifice and it was 3-2.
In the bottom of the inning Arkansas struck back. With runners at second and third and one out Heston Kjerstad struck out. But Jack Kenley ended a string of frustrating at bats with two runners in scoring position for the Hogs dating all the way back to game three against LSU. His two-RBI single gave Arkansas the lead back.
Jacob Kostyshock came on in the 8th for Arkansas. A throwing error by Martin put Ole Miss’ leadoff batter on base. Kostyshock then beaned Cooper Johnson and the Rebels had two on with no outs. But Kostyshock retired next two batters, one on a strikeout and another on a flyball to center that sent the runner at second to third. At that point Van Horn brought Matt Cronin out of the bullpen who promptly ended the threat with a strikeout.
Matt Goodheart opened the bottom of the eighth with a base hit. Fletcher drew a walk and Kjerstad struck out. A wild pitch advanced both base runners and Kenley reached first on a fielder’s choice that scored Curtis Washington Jr. who was running for Goodheart. Heading to the 9th the Hogs had a two-run lead.
Cronin closed the Rebels out with a 1-2-3 9th.