OXFORD, Miss. – Multiple times Sunday afternoon, the 21st-ranked Razorback baseball team found itself down by three runs or more and multiple times the Hogs were able to cut the deficit to one. Unfortunately, the Razorback pitching staff couldn’t quiet the 14th-ranked Ole Miss Rebels as it gave up two runs in the fifth and two runs in the seventh, which helped Ole Miss pull away for the 8-7 victory and the series sweep at Swayze Field.
A two-run home run by senior Michael Bernal in the ninth inning pulled the Hogs to within one, but it was the third near-comeback in the game that fell just a run short. The home run was Bernal’s seventh of the year, which re-takes the team lead.
Arkansas (20-12, 4-8) was down 4-0 after the second inning but closed to within one after a three-run fifth thanks to a few wild pitches by the Ole Miss (25-7, 6-6) pitching staff and a couple of timely-hit balls by Luke Bonfield and Cullen Gassaway.
Ole Miss responded with two runs in the bottom half of the fifth inning to get some breathing room, but again, the Hogs came back to pull within one with a two-run seventh. Bernal doubled home a run for his only hit of the day, which was preceded by another Ole Miss wild pitch that led to a run.
Six different Razorback hitters found their way into the hit column in Sunday’s series finale. Bonfield came away with a 3-for-4 game, tying his career high, while Bernal and Gassaway each finished with a pair of hits. Bernal’s home run in the ninth gave him three RBIs for the day, his fourth game this season with three or more RBIs.
Also, Clark Eagan, Carson Shaddy, and Tucker Pennell each finished with one hit a piece as the Hogs put up 10 hits in the game. It was the 15th game this year that Arkansas has notched 10 hits in a game. The team is 11-4 on the season when reaching that mark.
Arkansas only got one inning from Sunday starter Barrett Loseke. Loseke struck out the side in the first inning, but walked the first two batters in the second and then gave up a two RBI double to Will Golsan.
Loseke was relieved by Dominic Taccolini in the second, but Taccolini gave up a two-run home run to J.B. Woodman three batters in to give Ole Miss a 4-0 lead. Loseke ended up taking the loss in the game to bring his record to 1-2.
Taccolini did settle down and retire the next seven batters he faced, but ran into trouble in the fifth, giving up two runs on three hits, one of those runs coming home on a hit by pitch. Taccolini was pulled after 3 2/3 innings, facing 17 batters and striking out four.
Arkansas gets back on the field Tuesday when it hosts Louisiana Monroe Tuesday at Dickey-Stephens Park in Little Rock, Arkansas. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. CDT. General admission tickets are still on sale through the Arkansas Travelers ticket office.
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“A couple of times we had runners on early in the game, but hit into three double plays. When [Ole Miss starting pitcher Wyatt Short] missed, he missed down and away. He didn’t miss up in the zone like we did. We hit ground balls instead of doubles and home runs, so you have to give him credit for that.” – Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn on missing opportunities early to score on Ole Miss starter Wyatt Short
“You have to give credit to their [Ole Miss] starting pitchers. They’re starting for a reason because they’re pretty good. We just couldn’t get the timely hit. We had our opportunities today, but we climbed back in the game. We made a couple mistakes pitching today and when you make a mistake, it needs to be off the plate, it can’t be out over the middle.” – Dave Van Horn on not being able to get the bats going early in the series
“It’s all about being able to get the big out and get through some innings early. It’s the same thing we’ve been talking about for three-to-four weeks now and we have to get better production from our veteran pitchers. We have five returners that all had pretty good years last year and they’re struggling all at the same time. It all adds up to some bad innings that add up to some losses.” – Dave Van Horn on being able to keep the team’s confidence up going forward