By Parrish Alford
HOOVER, Ala. – Ole Miss jumped on Arkansas on Friday like a pig on slop, but the Rebels gave up a 6-0 lead and have now put their postseason resume into the hands of the NCAA tournament selection committee.
Winning against Vanderbilt on Thursday was big for the Rebels’ especially when combined with South Carolina’s loss.
However, Arkansas stormed back to win 8-7 at the Hoover Met, eliminating the Rebels from the SEC tournament, and Ole Miss (41-18) must wait to see if it’s done enough to play all its postseason games at home in its quest for the College World Series.
“Why it’s really hard for coaches is we don’t look at the other teams,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “We’ve played well and feel that we deserving, but I don’t get a vote. It’s up to 10 people who look at all the other teams. Hopefully we’ve done enough.”
After three innings Friday it looked like the Rebels had done enough to advance to today’s semifinals.
However, Arkansas (38-22) tied the game almost as quickly as Ole Miss had surged ahead with three runs in both the fourth and fifth innings.
The Rebels regained the lead in seventh after an Austin Anderson double, but Arkansas tied it in the eighth and won it in the ninth.
The Razorbacks’ comeback was legitimate – boosted by 10 hits – but was also aided by two close calls on the bases that replays seemed to suggest should have gone the Rebels’ way.
There was also a critical error by Ole Miss shortstop Errol Robinson on a potential double-play ball in the fourth.
The Razorbacks scored three that inning, and Brian Anderson was safe at third on the first play in question. He scored Arkansas’ third run on a basehit by the next man up, Alex Gosser.
In a 7-7 game in the eighth Arkansas’ Joe Serrano stretched a hit to left field into a double. The relay throw clearly beat him to the bag as did Preston Overbey’s tag.
The SEC instituted the use of replay for this tournament but on an extremely limited basis dealing mostly with fair or foul calls and fan interference.
As hot as the Rebels were against Arkansas starter Dominic Taccolini, they were contained by seldom-used freshman James Teague who allowed a run early and one late in his 42⁄3-inning stint before giving way to the more experienced Razorbacks’ relievers.
“Whenever he first came in we didn’t have much on the scouting report,” Ole Miss catcher Will Allen said. “We were just going up there trying to compete and win some pitches, get some good barrels on the ball. He was just keeping everybody off balance, filling up the strike zone.”
Ole Miss had the benefit of throwing a member of its regular season SEC rotation, but the Razorbacks forced Sam Smith into an early exit, just as they did in the season finale in Oxford.
Smith gave up six runs, all earned, in four innings. After going at least six innings for eight straight starts, Smith has gone less than five innings in four of his last five starts.
Arkansas got the tying and winning runs against Wyatt Short.
Ole Miss had 12 hits.
“We had a few breaks, they had a few breaks, but at the end they wouldn’t relent,” Bianco said. “They played better than we did, and they made the plays.”