Hogs Wrap Up Regular Season Today
At least, Ole Miss is playing for all the marbles as it is tied for first with LSU in the Southeastern Conference Western Division with a 17-12 league record. Should the Rebels win today to complete a sweep, they'll clinch at least a share of the West for the first time since 1982.
"It's all about finishing," said Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco, whose team started 7-8 in SEC play. "We've talked about that for three or four weeks where we've challenged the guys to take care of what we can control.
"I just told them, ‘Let's focus on winning (today), because we know Arkansas will be ready for us.' They're too good of a club not to bounce back."
Arkansas has, well, one marble to shoot for as it still has a shot to reach the SEC Tournament, which begins Wednesday in Hoover, Ala. and features only the top eight teams from the regular season.
If the season ended today, the Razorbacks would be the No. 8 seed in the tournament. Auburn, Vanderbilt and Arkansas are all tied with 13-16 records and the Hogs own the tiebreaker.
Since Vanderbilt and Auburn did not play head-to-head, the tiebreaker is decided by how the three teams fared against the overall league leader, which is Florida, and the Razorbacks beat the Gators two of three games two weeks ago.
"It would be nice to win (today)," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "We're going to do everything we can to win it, I'll tell you that. We're just disappointed that we had a chance to win two games that were close there and didn't win either won of them.
"But we've just got to get over it and try to win (today)."
In a strange scenario, Arkansas could still make the tournament with a loss, but only if Vanderbilt, Auburn and Mississippi State all lose today.
The key for Arkansas will be its pitching against an Ole Miss team which has put up 15 runs on 29 hits in the first two games of the series.
"We won't start (Friday starter Nick Schmidt)," Van Horn said. "We'll start somebody else and see how the game goes. If we have to use him, we will, if we don't we won't.
"You've got (either) Josh Smith and you've got Lee Land (as possible starters) and a little bit of everybody after that. But those are the two we'll probably go with early."
Out Of The Pen
Hogs reliever Devin Collis received a warning from home plate umpire Danny Everett after hitting Ole Miss' Alex Pressley square in the back with the first pitch following a towering solo homer to right by Stephen Head.
Two batters later, Collis hit another batter when he plunked Zack Cozart with a full-count fastball.
Collis was one of three relievers used Saturday and he combined with Daryl Maday and Brian McLelland to allow seven earned runs on seven hits in the final three innings.
"Our bullpen is not real good," Van Horn said. "The guys we've been bringing in, besides a couple of guys, haven't done a real good job."
Running A Stop Sign
Arkansas senior Clay Goodwin was thrown out by several steps attempting to advance to third from first on Brock Bond's two-run single to right in the fifth.
Goodwin apparently got mixed up on the hand signals from Van Horn in the third-base coaches' box.
"We got the big two-out hit from Brock Bond and Clay Goodwin runs through a stop sign and gets thrown out at third base," Van Horn said. "He just read my sign wrong. My right arm is for the front runner and my left arm is for the back runner and I've got one arm up and he just ran straight through it.
"I would have liked to see what would have happened there."
Van Horn also is perplexed by the fact his Razorbacks are 6-7 in Baum Stadium in SEC games and 7-8 on the road heading into today's game. Baum Stadium has set numerous attendance records, including a regular-season record crowd of 9,227 for Friday's 5-3 loss.
"It's been one of those weekends where I wish we would play like we play on the road a little bit," Van Horn said. "It seems like we've played better on the road than we've played at home and that's what has been real disappointing for me, because I appreciate all the support that the fans have been giving us and we haven't played very good for them."
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