Ole Miss Crumbles in Crunch Time as Arkansas Baseball Shows Nation It Is Clearly No. 1

Arkansas baseball

 

On one hand, you have to hand it to Ole Miss. 

The Rebels found themselves on the wrong end of an 11-0 deficit to start the rubber match between No. 2 Arkansas vs. No. 3 Ole Miss.

To Ole Miss’ credit, it battled back to tie the game at 14 in the 8th inning of the biggest game of the season so far for both programs. There was some worry that Arkansas would suffer its worst high-profile loss in decades, but that didn’t pan out.

Arkansas baseball rose to the occasion while Ole Miss crumbled in the final two innings. 

As part of a three-run eighth inning, Arkansas’ Braydon Webb got to second on an Ole Miss throwing error on a failed pickoff attempt. In that same inning, the Hogs’ Brady Slavens stepped up to deliver a clutch two-run double to put Arkansas ahead by two scores.

Christian Franklin followed that with an RBI single.

 

Ole Miss would commit another fielding error in the 9th inning, helping lead to another Arkansas score, while the Hogs’ Kevin Kopps sealed the huge 18-14 win.

Afterward, Dave Van Horn joked he was happy his team punched in a field goal at the end of  win.

Now that the smoke has cleared on a nearly 15 hours of baseball this weekend, Arkansas baseball has laid claim to being the No. 1 team in the nation. 

On Saturday, the Razorbacks won Game 1 by the score of 7-3 while Ole Miss took the nightcap 13-6.

But this series clincher not only decided who’s the best in the SEC West but also whom voters will next dub No. 1 in the nation.

Vanderbilt, the current No. 1 team in most major polls besides Baseball America (where Arkansas is king), decisively lost its weekend series to Georgia.

So that means Arkansas should be “an undisputed No. 1 at this point. 6-1 vs. the No. 3, 4 and 5 teams, all away from home,” Danny West Tweeted after the game.

Where Arkansas Baseball Stands in the SEC 

 

Kevin Kopps Did Serious Work in Arkansas vs. Ole Miss 

In Game 1, starter Patrick Wicklander lasted four innings, striking out seven while allowing three runs on six hits and four walks.

Arkansas trailed by three when he departed the game, and the Hog bullpen kept it that way.

Zebulon Vermillion, Ryan Costeiu and Kevin Kopps combined for five scoreless innings in relief of Wicklander. The trio struck out nine in total.

But Kopps was especially nasty, throwing five strikeouts as you can see in this impressive video:

 

That’s now 20 straight consecutive scoreless innings for the right-handed senior.

“I just know that every time we put him in the game, we have a lot of confidence in him and what he can do,” Van Horn said.

“That’s pretty amazing because this is a tough league and most of those innings are against SEC-type batting lineups.” 

As Andrew Hutchinson of HawgBeat.com noted, Kopps’ performance “lowered his season ERA to 0.72 – nearly 7.5 runs lower than during the shortened 2020 season – and 29 of his 41 pitches were strikes.”

“Of those, 14 of them were swings and misses by the Rebels. Incredibly, that increases his swing-and-miss rate in SEC play to a whopping 31.3 percent, which Van Horn said is thanks to more than just his cutter,” Hutchinson wrote.

“His cutter’s really good, and he’s throwing his changeup,” Van Horn said. “He’s spotting his fastball a lot better this year. He’s been mixing it up.”

“He just keeps getting ahead of hitters. You get ahead of hitters, you can go to work. That’s what he’s been doing.”

Kopps and the other relief pitcher’s dominance helped spur an Arkansas baseball rally starting in the sixth. Arkansas scored seven unanswered runs across three innings, tacking on three in the sixth and two more in both the seventh and eighth.

Matt Goodheart (three hits), Cayden Wallace (two RBI) and Christian Franklin (two RBI) powered the come-from-behind effort.

The Hogs took the lead on a run-scoring, bases-loaded walk in the seventh before Wallace put the game away for good with his two-RBI double in the eighth.

 

What happened in Arkansas vs Ole Miss Game 2

Ole Miss jumped out to a 5-0 lead after three innings and never lost the advantage. The Razorbacks narrowed their deficit to two runs on two occasions but would not get any closer than that.

The Hog offense tallied 12 hits in the 13-6 loss, including two base knocks by both Robert Moore and Jalen Battles.

Franklin, meanwhile, hammered his eighth homer of the year in the setback.

Starter Peyton Pallette struck out five in four innings, but the Rebels tagged the Razorback righty for seven runs before getting to reliever Kole Ramage for six more.

Zack Morris and Elijah Trest each tossed a scoreless inning out of the bullpen. 

(via Razorback Communications)

Dave Van Horn Talks Arkansas vs Ole Miss 

 

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