OXFORD, Miss. - With the SEC West lead up for grabs Arkansas coaches turned to Mike Bolsinger Sunday and the senior turned in the signature performance of his career.
Bolsinger struck out a career-high 11 batters and gave up just two hits in eight innings as the No. 14 Razorbacks downed No. 11 Ole Miss 7-0 at Oxford-University Stadium.
"I told Mike, 'You're the starter so give us everything you've got because it's the biggest game of the year.' He just said, 'OK,'" Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "He just pitched his heart out today and I thought our pitching was outstanding all weekend.
"We talked about postseason today. We talked about how this was a postseason feel and if this was a super regional and you lose, you're done. It showed some experience the way they were able to handle it. They came out and played their best game."
Bolsinger was the key. Making his first start since April 2 he nearly went the distance after throwing 1 1/3 innings of relief in Friday night's win. He left that game after a line drive ricocheted off his right shin in the eighth inning.
"I just worked with what I had and the defense backed me up a lot today," Bolsinger said. "It was an important game and it meant a lot to us to come in here and get a game up on Ole Miss.
"Coach Van Horn said this was an important game and to play it as if we were going to Omaha. I was pitching as if we were going to Omaha."
Bolsinger at one point retired 16 consecutive batters without giving up a hit and walked only three on the afternoon. He twice struck out three batters in an inning and five times recorded an inning-ending strikeout.
"He's got the talent," Van Horn said. "I thought you could see after he went out there and had a couple of good innings he knew he could stop them today."
Arkansas' offense, which was limited to just a pair of solo home runs Saturday night, returned to form Sunday by recording seven runs on 11 hits.
Andy Wilkins gave Bolsinger some breathing room with a two-run home run in the fifth inning to give the Razorbacks a 3-0 lead.
Wilkins, who had scored the game's first run on a Tim Carver single in the third inning, finished 3-for-4 with 3 RBIs and a triple short of the cycle.
"We knew we had to come out today and swing the bats because we thought it might be a hitter's duel," Wilkins said. "Mike came in and shut the door today and the rest of the lineup did a great job."
Wilkins, Monk Kreder and Carver each added RBIs in the seventh inning to chase Ole Miss starter David Goforth. The sophomore gave up six runs in six innings for the Rebels (34-15, 15-9).
"We kept building the lead," Van Horn said. "We didn't sit on just a three-run or four-run lead and kept chipping away. It was good to watch the team play today because they did a good job.
"It was one of our better games of the year."
Around the Bases
Wilkins' home run was the 40th of his career moving him into fourth place on the school's career list. He is two home runs shy of Jeff King for third place...Collin Kuhn set the school-record for hit-by-pitches after being hit in the fourth inning. Kuhn has now been plunked 23 times this year breaking Joe Jester's school record of 22 set in 1999...With the win Arkansas clinched a spot in the SEC Tournament.