Ole Miss Knocks Off No. 24 Arkansas
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Ole Miss pitchers T.J. Beam, Eric Fowler and Stephen Head combined to hold the Razorbacks to a pair of runs on seven hits as the Rebels posted a 5-2 victory over No. 24 Arkansas in the Friday night series opener at Baum Stadium.
Arkansas fell to 31-13 overall and 11-11 in the Southeastern Conference. The loss was the fifth straight for Arkansas in SEC play, the longest losing streak since 2001. Ole Miss improved to 29-19 overall and 13-9 in the league.
Jarrett Gardner (4-3) took the loss for Arkansas after giving up five runs, four earned, on 10 hits with four strikeouts and two walks. Gardner surrendered his first walk of the season in the second inning, ending his string of consecutive innings without allowing a base on balls at 56.2 innings.
Fowler (3-2) earned the victory for Ole Miss after going three and two-thirds innings in relief of Beam who lasted four and two-thirds innings. Fowler allowed only one hit and fanned three. Head pitched the final two-thirds of the ninth inning to earn his 10th save of the year. Beam allowed two runs, earned, on six hits with four strikeouts in the start.
Andrew Wishy put the Razorbacks on the board in the bottom of the first inning with an RBI double to right-center that scored Kirk McConnell who was hit by a pitch to open inning.
Ole Miss took the lead as a pair of runs crossed the plate in the third inning. Matt Tolbert singled and scored on a double by Jonathan Swearingen to tie the game at 1-1. Seth Smith then singled to plate Swearingen and give the Rebels a one run advantage.
McConnell sparked the Razorbacks’ offense with a triple down the left field line in the bottom of the third. It was the second triple of the season and 10th of his career for McConnell. The Razorbacks, however, would leave McConnell stranded at third. Scott Bridges and Haas Pratt each struck out. Wishy walked to put two on, but Ryan Fox flied out to center to end the inning.
Arkansas again mounted a scoring threat in the fourth inning. Clay Goodwin walked with one out and moved to second on a single to left by Brady Toops. Scott Hode loaded the bases with a single to right to bring McConnell to the plate. Again the Rebels were able to escape as McConnell grounded into a 1-2-3 double-play to end the inning.
The Rebels added to their lead in the fifth inning. Justin Donovan singled and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tolbert. Swearingen then tripled to right to plate Donovan. Chad Sterbens made it a 4-1 game with a single through the right side that scored Swearingen.
Arkansas narrowed the gap in the bottom of the fifth inning. Bridges doubled, stole second and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Fox. After Wishy was hit by a pitch, Nick Pitts walked to put two on with two outs for Goodwin. Pitts’ walk chased Beam after four and two-thirds innings of work. Fowler came in for Beam and struck Goodwin out on three pitches to end the inning with the Razorbacks trailing 4-2.
Arkansas worked out of an Ole Miss scoring threat in the sixth. Brain Pettway doubled and moved to third on a ground out. With Barry Gunther at the plate, Pettway broke for home on a pitch out. Gardner pitched out and Toops chased Pettway down for the second out of the inning. Gunther then popped out to third to end the inning.
Ole Miss made it a 5-2 game in the eighth when Stephen Head scored on a ground ball double-play by Pettway. Fox prevented another run from scoring in the eighth when he made a diving grab on a fly ball to shallow center by Matt Tolbert for the third out of the inning.
Arkansas and Ole Miss continue the series with a 2 p.m. game Saturday at Baum Stadium.
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