Comeback Goes Up In Smoke

After a big Friday night victory that vaulted it into a tie for first place in the SEC West , Arkansas drops its final games at Ole Miss and finds itself a pair back with just three home games Thursday through Saturday with Auburn left in the regular season.

OXFORD, Miss. -- Arkansas entered the weekend with thoughts of battling for the Southeastern Conference overall title.

The No. 10 Razorbacks ended the weekend scrambling to stay out of one of the bottom two spots in the SEC Tournament.

Ole Miss' Chris Coghlan delivered a game-winning single in the ninth against a drawn-in Arkansas infield to score Cody Overbeck and give the No. 22 Rebels a 5-4 win on Sunday at Swayze Field.

The loss ties the Razorbacks (35-17, 15-12 SEC) with the Rebels (33-19, 15-12) for second in the SEC Western Division and fourth overall in the conference. Kentucky's win earlier Sunday officially eliminated Arkansas from contention for the overall title.

"We can't blame it on anybody else," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "We had a chance to win the game, put them away and we didn't put the bat on the ball. That's disappointing."

Arkansas finishes the regular season with a three-game series against Auburn in Baum Stadium beginning on Thursday. The series is Thursday through Saturday rather than the normal Friday through Sunday.

The Razorbacks offense, which pounded out 17 hits in Friday's series-opening 12-3 win, was largely silenced for the rest of the weekend as they managed a combined 10 hits in the last two games.

Arkansas couldn't take advantage of plenty of chances to score on Sunday, none bigger than in the eighth inning.

Down 4-2 and looking lifeless on offense for much of the afternoon, the Razorbacks rallied to tie the game in the inning after Garrett White walked the first two batters he faced in the inning.

White then gave way to Will Kline, who walked James Ewing to load the bases with no outs before Danny Hamblin delivered a two-run double to tie the game.

But the Razorbacks quickly went back to their offensive struggles as Kline worked three strikeouts around an intentional walk to keep the game tied.

Brian Walker, the subject of much derision among Ole Miss fans after being ejected early in Saturday's game, struck out on just four pitches before the Rebels put Clint Arnold on intentionally to load the bases again.

Blake Parker and Logan Forsythe then struck out to end the threat. Van Horn called for a squeeze on the second pitch to Parker, but he fouled it off.

Kline said he was surprised at the squeeze call.

"I figured with a slider away, it was a tough pitch to lay down and thankfully he fouled it off," Kline said.

With David Hum and Chris Hollensworth unavailable to pinch hit, Van Horn called the act a last resort.

"You know that's a little bit of desperation when you've got the bases loaded and one out and you're trying to squeeze," Van Horn said. "You don't normally want to squeeze bunt with a force play at the plate but when you've got guys that have just constantly had problems putting the bat on the ball, we just felt like we needed to do something."

Kline (3-2) struck out five in two innings to earn the win. Devin Collis (7-3) took the loss.

The Razorbacks had another golden opportunity to get a run back in the fourth when, down 2-0, Craig Gentry led off with a double. But Lance Lynn struck out Hamblin before getting Walker and Arnold to fly out to end the threat with Gentry still stuck at second.

"That was a big turning point in the game," Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. "They get a guy at second base and we get a strikeout of, in my opinion, their best hitter.

"That's big. That could've been one of those innings that blew up on us much like the eighth. Getting them out changes the momentum."

The game-winning score was set up by Jon-Jon Hancock's pinch-hit one-out single and Bianco's decision to go with Overbeck to run. Overbeck went to third on Justin Henry's ensuing single, forcing the Razorbacks to pull the infield in for Coghlan.

"After the hit, we looked down and we've already ran (JoJo) Tan," Bianco said. "So we're asking who's the next fastest guy because there wasn't a lot of burners left in the dugout. The vote of the dugout was Overbeck.

"Although he makes it easily (to third) but he runs it. Some guys won't go. You put them into pinch run and they're not used to that situation and that puts a lot of pressure on them. He stays at second base, obviously you need a base hit but they don't have to play up."

Coghlan then bounced Collis' 1-0 pitch right back up the middle, pumping his fist as he made his way toward first before being mobbed by his teammates after Overbeck had scored.

"You can't change your approach but you do think, 'Try to lift the ball. Try to get it to the outfield,'" Coghlan said. "I figured with them in, I was just either trying to hit a hard ground ball or a long fly ball."

Jake Dugger and Ewing had two hits each, but the rest of the Razorbacks lineup went just 2 for 25.

"There's nobody to blame except some guys who just didn't put the bat on the ball," Van Horn said. "What a great opportunity. We have a chance to stay within a game of first place and maybe separate yourself over second place. ... It's really disappointing."


Hawgs Daily Top Stories