FAYETTEVILLE — No. 5 Arkansas managed to bounce back from a Friday loss to Ole Miss to take the next two games and the series.

With three SEC weekend series left in the regular season the Hogs hold a two-game lead over Auburn, Texas A&M and LSU. Arkansas will be at Auburn this weekend. Arkansas’ 14-7 record is second overall in the SEC to Tennessee’s 19-2.

The Hogs have a difficult schedule remaining. In addition to Auburn this weekend, then they host an improving Vanderbilt for three at Baum-Walker and then finish up at Alabama. Of course in the SEC all the teams have difficult schedules remaining that is just the way the conference is in all sports. Dave Van Horn knows the difficult ways of the SEC and was pleased with the two wins over Ole Miss after falling in the opener.

“Bottom line, man, we got a win,” Van Horn said. “That was our ultimate goal today, was to win the series. We had two big swings with two outs. Two two-run homers. Lined out a couple of times. We just flipped 10 hits around basically. Eight other hits. We couldn’t string them together, but our pitching staff did a great job and there’s the defense again.”

The defense was Arkansas’ best friend this weekend. They turned nine double plays in the series, three in each contest. Van Horn talked about the one error that Arkansas had and how it turned out not mattering.

“I think the ball that (Jalen) Battles didn’t catch was a sinking line drive and it was up high and got him,” Van Horn said. “But a pitch or two later they turned a double play, so it really didn’t matter. Other than that, I don’t know if we made an error all weekend. Just real proud of our guys.”

The best Van Horn move all weekend though may have been inserting freshman Kendall Diggs into the lineup Saturday as the designated hitter. Diggs hit a walk-off home run on Saturday to allow Arkansas to take a 6-3 win and even the series which they eventually won on Sunday. Diggs only had one hit in four at bats on Saturday, but Van Horn was even impressed with the way the freshman had hit the ball in previous at bats.

“Then Kendall Diggs, who had in my opinion, three really good at-bats leading up to that last one,” Van Horn said. “Just felt like he didn’t have any luck. He hit two or three balls hard right at people. I think the center fielder went back on one, think he lined out to short or somewhere. You just kind of felt like it was going to be his moment. When he kind of waved on that ball in the dirt to make it a 2-2 count, they thought ‘Oh, we’re going to go back to that pitch again and we’re going to get him and he didn’t bite on it. All of a sudden you’ve got a 3-2 count and they had to make a decision. He’s seen two breaking balls in a row and they’re going to try to slip a fastball by him. You saw what happened. It was just a really, really good swing.”

Diggs has played in 15 games with 10 starts. Most of action has been in the midweek games. He talked about how he found out he was starting on Saturday.

“Yeah, so we got here about 3 p.m. for our hitters meeting and that kind of thing,” Diggs said. “The lineup wasn’t posted yet. So after that we went down to see when we were stretching and all that. I saw my name and yeah, I mean, I got super stoked. I was ready to go. Obviously it’s a huge stage and I was ready. It felt good.”

Like Van Horn, Diggs felt he had some good swings in the three previous at bats before the home run.

“Yeah, you know, you wish they could fall but obviously, always growing up in baseball, they tell you, if you’re barreling balls and they’re not falling, that’s just the game of baseball,” Diggs said. “You can’t get upset about it. Just the next at-bat. Obviously, that’s what I was telling myself. Obviously, I was a little upset maybe for a couple minutes, but you’ve got to move on. and obviously it was a close game, and it was gonna have another big at-bat later.”

Diggs then described the at bat that ended Saturday’s game with a celebration at home plate following his blast over the fence in right field.

“First pitch, he went curveball, which I didn’t see in my previous at-bat. I don’t think so at least,” Diggs said. “It was pretty good pitch. It was definitely a strike. Ball after that. Another curveball, obviously, the check swing. So obviously got two strikes, stepped out, took a deep breath. Obviously, there’s a lot going on, it’s a big stage, but just trying to tell myself positive things. Obviously, telling yourself negative things like, ‘Don’t strike out,’ that kind of thing is never going to end well. So there’s no reason not to tell yourself, you know, ‘I can do this.’ And I told myself I wasn’t gonna strike out there, I wasn’t gonna get out. I was gonna do everything I could. Obviously, it was a possibility. But just do my best in that situation.”

Other than the loss on Friday, the one thing that was concerning to Van Horn was once again Jaxon Wiggins didn’t give them many innings. He worked three innings on Sunday throwing 59 pitches and surrendering all three Ole Miss runs. This was second outing in a row that Wiggins wasn’t his best.

“Yeah, I don’t know,” Van Horn said. “I’ll talk to Coach (Matt Hobbs) about it. It’s one of those things that if you haven’t had to use too many of the relievers the first couple of games, and Jaxon has great stuff, it’s a plus. If he doesn’t have real good stuff, then we have guys left to go, so we’re probably going to keep starting him and hopefully he’ll work through this, because we need him. So that’ll be the plan next week at Auburn, I’m pretty sure, unless something happens during the week. But that’s what I would guess.”

Arkansas will host Missouri State at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday night in the final midweek game of the season.