FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – No. 10 Arkansas could not solve No. 21 Ole Miss or left-handed pitcher Brett Bukvich as the Rebels clinched the series with a 5-0 win in front of 9,508 fans at Baum Stadium on Saturday.
The Razorbacks still clinched the SEC West with last night’s come-from-behind win and will open SEC Tournament play at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 23, against No. 7-seed Alabama.
The Hogs falls to 38-18 on the season and 18-12 in Southeastern Conference play, while Ole Miss improves to 35-21 overall and 16-14 in SEC play. Arkansas also became the first school in NCAA history to average over 8,000 tickets sold per game in a season. UA finished with an average of 8,046, breaking LSU’smark of 7,802 set in 2004.
Brett Bukvich ran his record to 7-2 on the season with a commanding performance that featured a steady diet of curveballs and changeups that kept Hog hitters off balance through seven innings. He surrendered just five hits with five strikeouts and five walks.
Scott Bittle and Craig Rodriguez pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings respectively to close out the regular season.
Duke Welker took the loss, his third straight, to fall to 5-5 on the season. He allowed five runs – four earned – on seven hits with one walk and two strikeouts. Stephen Richards, Evan Cox, Dallas Keuchel and Travis Hill combined to work four-scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
Brain Walker paced what little offense the Razorbacks could muster with two doubles. Logan Forsythe also singled to finish with a .374 batting average in SEC play and hit in 26 of the 30 league games.
Mistakes by Welker led to two Ole Miss’ runs in the top of the first inning. Jordan Henry singled to left field and the Zack Cozart was hit by a curveball. After sacrificing the runners over, Welker got a strikeout for the second out and after a borderline strike three that didn’t go his way for the third out, unleashed a wild pitch to score the first run. He then balked in the second run.
Ole Miss extended the lead to 4-0 with two runs in the top of the fourth inning. Justin Fuller led off with a double down the right field line that was called fair, yet argued intensely by Hogs skipper Dave Van Horn. After Henry stole third base, he scored on a seeing-eye single through the left side of the infield. Another run scored with two outs in the inning on an error by first baseman Danny Hamblin.
The Rebels continued to tack on a run on two hits in the fifth inning to make it 5-0. Cody Overbeck plated the run with a half-swing sacrifice fly to center field.
The Razorbacks got their first hit of the game when Brian Walker doubled into the left-center field gap to lead off the bottom half of the fifth inning. But it went to waste as Bukvich got out of the inning with a ground ball, strikeout and fly ball to the warning track in right field.