HOOVER, Ala. - It appeared that Arkansas had a foot on the bus back to Fayetteville early on Friday, but then all of a sudden the Razorbacks got out the lumber.
With the help of couple of lightly-used players, seventh-seeded Arkansas roared back from a 6-0 deficit in the third inning and ended up eliminating Ole Miss 8-7 to move into Saturday's semifinals.
"Firstly, I would like to congratulate Ole Miss," Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. "They have a tremendous and very physical team. They have one of the toughest line-ups to pitch against. They showed up that first inning, but hats off to our team for hanging in there."
The Razobacks (38-22) – who have won 9 of their last 11 games and took three of five games against Ole Miss this season – will face LSU on Saturday at noon as one of the last four teams standing.
"It was just a disappointing game.," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said of his second loss to Arkansas this week. "We had a six-run lead through three innings...Arkansas capitalized. We had a few breaks. They had a few breaks, but at the end they didn't relent. They just played better than we did and made the plays."
Brian Anderson's ninth-inning single brought home Joe Serrano with the game-winning tally after Serrano doubled leading off the frame on a day when he scored three runs.
Ole Miss thought Serrano was out at second, but he thought he was safe.
"To me, I slid into the outside part of the base, and he tagged the very front of the base," Serrano said. " I think that is what the umpire saw. Obviously, I don't know what instant replay has to say about that, but I felt that I was safe."
Arkansas owes pitcher James Teague and third baseman Josh Alberius a lot of credit for getting through Friday's loser-leave-town contest.
Teague – who had just 11 innings all season - went four-plus innings in relief of starter Dominic Taccolini in his first SEC action of the season while Alberius – who entered the game in the second inning and had just 11 previous at-bats this season – had a run-scoring ground out early and a game-tying RBI single in the eighth.
".James Teague doesn't have much pitching experience in the SEC," Van Horn said. "We had a few guys out with soreness. We needed our bench to step up, and they went out and stepped up. We had guys come in that only had six or seven at bats all season."
Krisjon Wilkerson - who hadn't played much lately - also had a big double in the comeback and played small ball as well.
"Krisjon Wilkerson hadn't played in a long time," Van Horn said. " He smoked a double of the centerfield wall and laid down a great bunt. The dugout was into it and you could really feel it. Sometimes things go your way, and I think that is what happened here today."
Serrano was quick to praise his teammates.
"It was a team win," Serrano said. "The guys that came in off the bench today were great. KJ hasn't played in a long time, and he came out and hit a big double, laid down a bunt and did a lot of team things out there. Josh Alberius came in, had three good at-bats and gave us good defense.
Evan Stone then finished off a 1-2-3 ninth in relief of Michael Gunn, who got the win against a Rebels squad that out-hit the Razorbacks 12-10.
Ole Miss (41-18) jumped on Taccolini for three runs in the opening inning with four straight singles to lead off the bottom of the first.
Austin Anderson drove home the firstr run, Sikes Orvis and then J.B. Woodman drove home the third run on a sacrifice fly that the Razorbacks ended up turning into a double play.
Will Allen – the league's leading hitter – then drove home a pair in the second that chased Taccolini and Errol Robinson's run-scoring ground out against reliever Teague made it 6-0 in the third.
"Whenever he (James Teague) came in, we didn't much on the scouting report because he hadn't pitched an inning in SEC play," Allen said. " We didn't have much on him, so we just went out there competing and trying to win pitches. After that first inning, he was keeping everybody off balance. He had a good breaking ball. He really settled in the second inning."
Arkansas began its comeback in the fourth, loading the bases on two walks and an error against Ole Miss starter Sam Smith.
Eric Fisher's single plated Joe Serrano to break up the shutout and then Tyler Spoon added a sacrifice fly and Alberius cut it to 6-3 with his run-scoring fielder's choice.
The Razorbacks then tied it 6-6 in the fifth when Krisjon Wilkerson doubled home Clark Eagan, Anderson drove home a run with a groundout and then Fisher lined a game-tying single that sent Wilkerson to the plate.
Teague – who had not faced SEC competition this season and had pitched only 11 innings in 2014, kept it that way until the seventh.
The Rebels took the lead when Anderson doubled to lead off the innning and eventually came home to make it 7-6 when Orvis greeted reliever Michael Gunn with a check-swing RBI groundout.
Arkansas came right back to tie it 7-7 in the eighth when Tyler Spoon doubled and Alberius drove him home with just his second RBI of the season.
The Razorbacks – now 3-1 in the tournament – will likely send Zach Jackson to to the mound to start Saturday's game.
Arkansas 8, Ole Miss 7
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