By Neal McCready
Special to the Journal
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas needs to refresh its knowledge of etiquette.
It’s the visitor, and not the host, who is supposed to come bearing gifts.
Arkansas committed four costly errors Thursday night at Baum Stadium – and Ole Miss capitalized, scoring five unearned runs early and then hanging on for a 7-5 win.
“It’s tough to overcome that in league play (or) in any game,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said.
Ole Miss and Arkansas will play the second game of the series todayt at 6:35. p.m.
Thursday’s victory allowed the ninth-ranked Rebels to stay alive in their quest for a Southeastern Conference title. Ole Miss (38-15 overall, 18-10 in the SEC) remained tied with Florida, one game behind LSU in the SEC standings. The Rebels did move one-half game ahead of Alabama, which lost at Auburn, 3-2, in 10 innings. Arkansas lost for the ninth time in its last 13 SEC games to fall to 32-18 overall and 14-13 in league play.
“For me, I think it’s unbelievable,” Ole Miss senior outfielder Logan Power said. “Those guys are really tough and tonight was just a huge battle. … What we’re trying to do right now is win the SEC and it only helps to win.”
Ole Miss began opening its presents very quickly. The Rebels loaded the bases with two outs against Arkansas starter Dallas Keuchel, but Jeremy Travis’ hard ground ball to the right side was fielded by a diving Ben Tschepikow.
The Hogs’ second baseman ruined the sparkling play by throwing the ball away, allowing two Ole Miss runs to score.
Arkansas got a run back in the bottom of the first on an RBI-double by Scott Lyons, but the Razorbacks’ gift-giving commenced in earnest in the third.
Kyle Henson and Zach Miller led off the frame with consecutive singles. Travis laid down a bunt, but Keuchel’s throw rolled into right field, allowing Henson to score. Kevin Mort followed with a sacrifice fly, scoring Miller and Tim Ferguson added an RBI on a suicide squeeze bunt.
An error by Lyons, the Hogs’ shortstop, opened the door for more damage.
Jordan Henry followed by drawing a walk and Logan Power made the Razorbacks pay with a two-run double into the left field corner.
“When I came up, there were two outs and I kind of told myself, ‘Bear down right here. You really need to get a hit,’ ” Power said. “I put a really good swing on it and it was a line drive right down the line in a perfect spot.”
Arkansas got two runs back in the bottom of the frame against Ole Miss starter Drew Pomeranz and then chipped away with single runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
Pomeranz left with two outs in the sixth, turning the game over to Aaron Barrett, who gave up a pair of hits and a walk in just one-third of an inning. David Goforth walked one in a scoreless inning and Jake Morgan worked the eighth and ninth, giving up a single and nothing else, to record his eighth save of the season.
Pomeranz (6-3) gave up 10 hits and five runs while walking two and striking out 10.
“I was struggling pretty much the whole game to get the ball down,” Pomeranz said. “It was one of those nights when I really wasn’t spotting too well. I had to really finish and battle to get the ball down the whole night.
“You have to give it to them, though. Every mistake I made, I left it right down the middle and they just hammered it.”
Keuchel (7-3) took the loss for Arkansas, giving up nine hits and three walks while striking out six in 62/3 innings.
Neal McCready/Special to the Journal