By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – The booming bats that fueled Ole Miss in a 10-game win streak that pushed the No. 11-ranked Rebels to the top of the SEC West were mostly silent as they slid into a second-place tie on Sunday.
Arkansas right-hander Mike Bolsinger dominated the Rebels, limiting them to two hits in a 7-0 win before a Swayze Field crowd of 6,855 in the decisive game of the weekend matchup of division co-leaders.
Auburn completed a three-game sweep of Mississippi State, and with six SEC games remaining, the Tigers and Rebels are tied at 15-9. They meet the final weekend at Ole Miss.
The Rebels averaged just six hits in three games and scored seven total runs.
Ole Miss right-hander David Goforth kept the Rebels in the game early, but the No. 15 Razorbacks (37-11, 16-8 SEC) pulled away in the middle innings. Given Bolsinger’s success, their four-run lead after six innings looked insurmountable. They tacked on three in the seventh for good measure.
Bolsinger went eight innings with 10 strikeouts, two hits, three walks and a hit-batsman. Ole Miss (34-15, 15-9) got another baserunner on an error, but none of them reached third base.
“He was outstanding, but I thought our pitching was outstanding all weekend,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “We feel like we have to score five or six runs on a Saturday. We were disappointed that we didn’t have an inning.”
A day later, the Razorbacks had their share of innings, none of them huge, but they didn’t have to be with Bolsinger in a groove.
“His slider was unbelievable, and he threw it just hard enough that you couldn’t sit on it or the fastball,” Ole Miss center fielder Tim Ferguson said. “He made us swing at bad pitches.”
Four different Ole Miss players struck out more than once. Freshman second baseman Alex Yarbrough led the way with three.
Bolsinger began the day with a pedestrian 5.15 earned run average and a 4-2 record in 502/3 innings.
He located and changed speeds, limiting the Rebels to one hit through seven innings, that an opposite field single to left by Taylor Hightower.
Tanner Mathis led off the eighth with a base hit that bounced off Bolsinger and rolled to the third base side of the infield. Mathis’ success was irrelevant after Bolsinger got the next three batters with two fly balls and a strikeout.
The Rebels got better swings against Bolsinger in his relief appearance Friday. He pitched 12/3 innings, giving up two hits and two earned runs. He left after taking a hard-hit ball from Matt Snyder off the shin.
That danger was removed on Sunday. The Rebels played for the second-straight day without one of their biggest bats, Snyder, their designated hitter, who tweaked his injured shoulder Friday. Sunday he had a fever as well.
Goforth gave the Rebels a winning effort, but got no run support.
He was pitching in the seventh with four runs allowed but gave up a walk and single to the three- and four-hole hitters Zac Cox and Brett Eibner.
Matt Tracy came on in the seventh and gave up two hits, one through a drawn-in infield. Both of Goforth’s runs scored and one of Tracy’s, and the Rebels left the seventh trailing 7-0.
Goforth had some success experimenting with different arm angles designed to better conceal the pitch he planned to throw. He gave up a run-scoring infield single in the fourth and a single and home run in the fifth.
He went six innings, the longest outing of his career. It was his seventh start, but he had not pitched more than 51/3 innings in a month.
“I was proud of David. He gave us a chance and competed hard,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “We’ve got to do a better job figuring it out on offense, taking away the fastball or swinging at the breaking ball earlier in the count.”