By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – In something less than a blueprint for SEC success, Ole Miss starter Christian Trent gave up four runs on six hits in the first inning.
Trent survived – and so did the Rebels, rallying from a disastrous beginning against Arkansas to post a 7-4 series-clinching win before 9,416 fans at Swayze Field Saturday afternoon.
No. 11 Ole Miss improved to 35-13 overall, 15-8 in SEC play. With seven games left, the Rebels have equaled their number of conference wins last season.
Will Allen was 3-for-4, and Sikes Orvis was 2-for-4 with a home run, and Ole Miss is alone in first place in the SEC West.
Mike Bianco’s 47th birthday may have begun with him reaching for Maalox but ended with Trent and the Rebels’ bullpen combining for eight-straight scoreless innings after the big first for the Razorbacks (29-20, 10-13 SEC).
“We feel like we can score runs, and we feel like we have a pitching staff that can hold opponents’ down. It was early in the ballgame, and for the offense to come back and answer back … that was huge,” said Ole Miss assistant coach Carl Lafferty, who handled interviews as Bianco left quickly for a personal engagement.
Ole Miss roughed up Arkansas left-hander Jalen Beeks, who lasted just 3 2/3 innings and allowed season-highs with six runs, five earned, and 10 hits.
Hogs at bat
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn lamented the lack of big hits from the Hogs in Friday’s 3-2 loss. Saturday they responded fast and in a big way.
Eric Fisher’s two-run single stunned the home fans, and Tyler Spoon and Blake Baxendale also had RBI hits in the first.
When it looked like it could have been cruise control for Beeks, the Rebels responded. Beeks had allowed as many as four runs in a game just once, and the Rebels scored three on four hits in the bottom half.
They couldn’t tie the game on a two-out Errol Robinson hit when right fielder Tyler Spoon threw out Brantley Bell at the plate to end the inning.
Bell had an RBI hit, another run scored on a Beeks wild pitch, and Orvis drove home a run with a sacrifice fly.
After a marathon first inning it was a 4-3 game with two starters who entered with sub-3.00 ERAs.
“That was hard to swallow,” Van Horn said. “We spotted him a four-run lead, then he comes out and he just didn’t command the baseball. They’re a good hitting team.”
The Rebels took the lead in the fourth.
Orvis singled through the right side, and the two bunts the followed were misplayed by the Hogs. Nobody was covering first on Errol Robinson’s bunt. When Preston Overbey laid one down right of the mound Beeks retrieved it and looked at third before throwing late to first. A big inning was born.
Ole Miss finished with three runs on six hits in the frame.
Orvis added a solo home run in the fifth, his 12th.
Scott Weathersby pitched two innings, Wyatt Short and Josh Laxer one each to finish for the Rebels. Each gave up one hit, but there was only one walk – from Short – among the three.
Trent gave up only three hits in four innings after the first he did not walk a batter.
“Honestly, they just came out swinging. They were hitting everything,” Trent said. “Hats off to our offense for getting us back in the game.”