Boyce's Gutsy Effort Comes Up Short

FAYETTEVILLE -- Too exhausted to stand long, Arkansas pitcher Charley Boyce often sat in the corner of the dugout during the final few innings of Saturday's 10-2 loss against Ole Miss in front of 7,943 in Baum Stadium.

Boyce, his eyes hidden by mirrored sunglasses, clinched his sweat-soaked hat in both hands as he tried to figure out what he could have done differently to change the outcome.

But Boyce was the main reason the Hogs were in the game at all and they even sported a 2-1 lead heading into the seventh, which turned out to be Boyce's final inning, before the wheels came off late.

Overwhelmed by disappointment, Boyce politely declined comment afterwards.

"It was a gutsy performance," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "He did a great job and was running out of gas there. He gave us a chance to win."

Pitching on about 15 hours rest after throwing 32 pitches in three relief innings of Friday's 5-3 loss, Boyce was marvelous. He allowed three runs (only one was earned) on seven hits in seven innings by throwing 72 strikes in 113 pitches.

"We got some runs late, but we were disappointed that we weren't able to do much earlier in the game," said Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco. "But that just shows you how good Boyce is and why they use him like they do. He was hard for us to figure out and hard for us to put together too many base hits against him."

The Hogs (37-17 overall, 13-16 in the Southeastern Conference) will be fighting for their postseason lives in today's 1:05 p.m. series finale. They're tied for eighth in the overall standings and only eight teams make it into next week's league tourney while Ole Miss (39-16, 17-12) is playing for the SEC Western Division title since it's tied for first with LSU.

Arkansas stranded seven runners in the first four innings and the Rebels were able to take a 1-0 lead when Chris Coghlan drove in a run in the third.

Jake Dugger sparked a fifth-inning surge when he led off with a bunt single. Danny Hamblin walked and Scott Hode laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position for Brock Bond, who hit a two-run single to right off Ole Miss starter Matt Maloney to give the Hogs a 2-1 lead, their first of the series.

"It was a great performance by (Maloney) really just to hang in there," Bianco said. "That, I think, was the most walks (6) he's given up, but he had some great stuff and was able to deliver some clutch pitches with runners on that really got them out of some jams.

"Besides Bond's hit, he was really dominant."

Maloney (7-2) allowed six hits and struck out seven in seven innings before handing over the reins to hard-throwing right-hander Brian Pettway (he topped out at 93 mph on the final pitch of one of his two strikeouts), who retired the final six Razorbacks in order.

"It just didn't go well," Van Horn said. "The biggest problem for us, probably all year, has been driving people in. Again, give credit to their pitchers. Once we got runners in scoring position, they pitched good and got us out."

Ole Miss scored eight runs in the final three innings to put the game out of reach, In the two-run seventh, a one-out, two-base error and a high-hopping RBI single up the middle by Justin Henry helped the Rebs regain a 3-2 lead.

"The run that tied the game, it was just a bad hop there," Van Horn said. "I don't know what it hit. It was almost like it hit a sprinkler head or something, the ball just shot into center field.

"If we make that play, there's two outs and nobody on and who knows what happens."

Despite suffering the loss, Boyce (10-7) did move up in the Arkansas record books in several categories. He's now second all-time in innings pitched (309 2/3) and fourth in both appearances (64) and career starts (43).

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