FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - With an opportunity to claim the Southeastern Conference regular season title on the line, the Rebels left little to chance Saturday as No. 9 Ole Miss (40-15, 20-10 SEC) powered past No. 16 Arkansas (32-20, 14-15 SEC) by a score of 16-3 to sweep the weekend series and claim a share of the conference title.
The title is the first regular-season conference title for the Rebels since the 1977 season and is the seventh SEC Championship in program history. The win pushed Ole Miss to 40 regular-season wins for the second time in school history and a school record 20 conference wins for the first time in school history.
With the win, Ole Miss locked up the three seed at next week’s SEC Tournament and will face sixth-seeded Georgia at 1:30 p.m. at Regions Park.
“I’m very proud of this team and how we played today,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “We were very locked in. We had to come out and play our game and take things one pitch at a time. We put that first inning together and then the offense just came alive and played well. (Phillip) Irwin pitched well and we just played a really clean game.”
“The neat thing about this team is we have had a different hero every night. Someone else helps us just find a way to win. It’s been a very satisfying season so far with one of the best regular seasons ever - claiming the most conference wins ever and only our second 40-win regular season ever as well as claiming our first regular season SEC Championship since 1977.”
Phillip Irwin (7-3) picked up the win as he worked 6.0 innings and held the Razorbacks to three runs on eight hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
Justin Wells (2-1) suffered the loss for Arkansas as he allowed five runs on five hits with two walks and a strikeout.
The Ole Miss hitters were on fire for most of the afternoon as the Rebels used four home runs to push to the win. Logan Power led the way with a 3-for-6 performance with two runs scored and two RBI. Tim Ferguson, Power, Zach Miller and Jeremy Travis all homered on the afternoon.
Ole Miss got on the board in the first inning as Jordan Henry scored on a double to left from Power before he would go on to score on a single up the middle from Matt Snyder to give the Rebels a 2-0 lead. Henry reached on a single to left before moving to third on a wild pitch and throwing error trying to catch him advancing on the wild pitch.
The Rebels continued to add to the lead in the third as Power came up with a solo home run and Miller came up with a two-run shot three batters later as Ole Miss moved out to a 5-0 lead on the Razorbacks.
Arkansas responded in the bottom half of the inning when Ben Tschepikow came up with an RBI double to left center that scored Chase Leavitt. Leavitt had singled to reach in the previous at bat as the Razorbacks trimmed the lead to 5-1.
Ole Miss pushed the advantage back out to five runs in the fourth when Matt Smith drew a bases loaded walk with two outs to score Ferguson and extend the lead to 6-1. The Razorbacks then went to the bullpen for Mike Bolsinger who gave up a three-run double to Kyle Henson as the Rebels moved out to a 9-1 lead. A walk of Miller later and Jeremy Travis came up with a three-run shot of his own as the lead great to 12-1 in favor of the Rebels.
Ferguson then hit a solo shot to open the fifth inning and put Ole Miss up 13-1.
Arkansas mounted a rally in the bottom of the fifth when Collin Kuhn came up with an RBI single through the right side to score Tim Carver from second. Carver doubled to right with one out to set up the Kuhn hit and cut the lead to 13-2.
Ole Miss added three runs in the sixth to take the advantage out to 16-2.
Arkansas then answered again with another two out rally as Jarrod McKinney came up with an RBI single to right to score Travis Sample from second and put the score at 16-3. Sample singled to reach before moving to second on a single from Andy Wilkins.
The Rebels held Arkansas off the rest of the way to claim the series sweep with the 16-3 win.
LSU beats Miss. State 15-4
LSU leftfielder Leon Landry went 5-for-6 with three home runs and seven RBI to lead the second-ranked LSU baseball team to a 15-4 win over Mississippi State and clinch the SEC regular-season championship.
Click here to read more at Brad Locke's blog. South Pontotoc falls
FINAL SCORE: Sumrall 11, South Pontotoc 1 (6 Inn.)
Click here for more from John Wilbert at the High School sports blog. Read more about the games in the NEMS Daily Journal Sunday.