By Tom Murphy/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
FAYETTEVILLE – The bottom of the Ole Miss order broke out the big bats on Friday, bashing a pair of home runs in a 7-1 rout of No. 15 Arkansas in an SEC opener at Baum Stadium.
The biggest blow came courtesy of No. 9 hitter Preston Overbey, who drilled a hanging curveball from Arkansas freshman Trey Killian just over the left-field wall for a second-inning grand slam and a 4-1 Ole Miss lead.
Sikes Orvis added a 400-plus foot shot to center field, his first of the year, in the Rebels’ three-run fourth inning to back right-hander Bobby Wahl (5-0), who allowed three hits in seven innings.
No. 6 Ole Miss (19-1), off to the best start in school history, extended its winning streak to 12 games. The Razorbacks (13-6) had their six-game winning streak snapped before a crowd of 7,135 on a breezy evening.
Game 2 is today at 2:05 p.m.
“We played like we’ve played the first 19 games and that was kind of the challenge,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “You don’t have to do anything different now, on Friday night in the SEC at a tough place to play, Arkansas, with the huge crowd.”
Arkansas scratched out a run off Wahl in the first inning when Jacob Mahan slashed a double to left field and scored on Tyler Spoon’s one-out single to center.
“It was a pretty good game for an inning,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said.
Killian didn’t command his curve in the second inning and paid for it. Andrew Mistone reached on a one-out single, and with two outs Ole Miss loaded the bases on Will Allen’s flare to right and Will Jamison’s walk to bring up Overbey, whose shot appeared just out of the reach of leaping left-fielder Brian Anderson.
“I knew I hit it pretty well, but luckily the wind helped me out a little bit,” Overbey said.
“This is huge on a Friday night, a big heavyweight battle right there. They threw the first punch and we ended up coming back and throwing a few more.”
Arkansas’ pitching staff, which entered with the nation’s No. 2 earned run average (1.60), had given up only two home runs all season before the Rebels arrived.
Killian, who had given up just two earned runs in 21 innings, allowed twice that total on Overbey’s two-out smash in the second.
The Rebels managed 10 hits, including two-hit games for Stuart Turner, who extended his hitting streak to 15 games, Allen and Overbey.
“We were able to put an inning together,” Bianco said. “Of course Preston’s home run was huge to get us back into the game, but I thought we swung the bat throughout the lineup once again, one through nine, different guys in different innings.”
Ole Miss knocked Killian out with a four-run third inning.
Orvis led off with a shot to deep center, his first of the season. Allen followed with his second single and Jamison with his second walk to finish off Killian’s day. Tanner Mathis’ ground ball to reliever Landon Simpson brought in one run and Auston Bousfield’s double made it 7-1.