OXFORD, Miss. – Senior center fielder Chad Hill had the first four-hit game of his career and Mississippi’s first of the season as the Rebels defeated Arkansas 12-5 on Saturday night at Oxford-University Stadium, evening the three-game Southeastern Conference series at 1-1.
The Rebels (30-24, 12-16 SEC) snapped a four-game losing streak against the Razorbacks (23-30, 7-20) and put themselves in a position to secure the eighth and final spot in next week’s SEC Tournament with a win in Sunday’s regular-season finale or a Kentucky loss at Vanderbilt.
Kentucky kept the pressure on the Rebels with a 7-3 win at Vanderbilt on Saturday afternoon to take a 2-0 lead in that series. No. 1 South Carolina ended Tennessee’s hopes of making the tournament with a 9-1 win Saturday afternoon.
Mississippi starter Joey Cramblitt (5-8) recorded his first complete game of the season to earn the win, allowing five runs (earned) on eight hits while tying a career high with eight strikeouts. Matt Riethmaier (2-5) suffered his first loss in three decisions after giving up seven runs (earned) on seven hits in just 2 1/3 innings.
The Rebels loaded the bases on Riethmaier with no outs in the bottom of the third, bringing Cliff Lee out of the UA bullpen. Kris Cox greeted Lee with an RBI single before Lee allowed a run to score on a wild pitch and gave up a sacrifice fly to Clint Farrar for a 7-5 UM lead it would not relinquish.
Cox padded the lead with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth. UM added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth when Justin Huisman tripled to drive in a run and scored on Hill’s fourth hit of the game. Carl Lafferty’s two-run single off UA reliever Mike Moriarity in the bottom of the seventh provided the final 12-5 margin.
Arkansas led 2-0 after the top of the first when Greg Blum scored Jeff Hoefler with a sacrifice fly and Brian Kirby followed with a double off the wall in right field to score Scott Crossett. Crossett led the Razorbacks with three hits to extend his career-best hitting streak to 11 games and tie Kirby for the longest streak by a Razorback this season.
The Rebels answered in the bottom of the first inning with a two-run home run by Burney Hutchinson, his 10th homer of the season.
In the bottom of the second inning, Farrar’s sacrifice fly and Jude Voltz’ RBI single gave the Rebels a 4-2 lead.
Arkansas regained the lead with three runs in the top of the third inning. Crossett singled in a run before Kyle Washburn doubled off the right-field wall to score two more for a 5-4 UA advantage.
The teams will conclude the series and the regular season on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. CT. While the Rebels can earn a spot in the SEC Tournament with a win or a Kentucky loss at Vanderbilt, Arkansas has failed to qualify for the conference tournament for the first time since joining the league prior to the 1992 season.