The Ole Miss Rebels were looking for a few good men to step up.
In no certain order they got them, from Brett Bukvich to Alex Presley to Will Kline in Saturday afternoon's 7-3 victory over Arkansas before 4,361 at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.
Bukvich pitched another gem, going seven innings and a batter before being relieved by Kline who went the rest of the way. And after the Razorbacks went up 2-1 on a Clint Arnold two-run home run in the top of the sixth, Presley put the Rebels back up by a run at 3-2 with a two-run blast that almost made it to the top of the hill where the students hang out, estimated at some 415 feet from home plate.
Those weren't the only Rebels to step up on this day. It was a team win as Ole Miss outhit the Razorbacks 12-4 and looked like a confident bunch in moving to 32-19 on the season and 14-12 in Southeastern Conference action. Arkansas is now 35-16 and 15-11.
"A good day all around," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco, whose team stopped a four-game SEC and overall losing streak with the win. "The last four games or so haven't been good days. Certainly yesterday (a 12-3 loss to Arkansas Friday night) was tough and we didn't play well in any phase. Today we played well in all three phases. That was good to see."
Bianco and his coaching staff juggled the lineup a bit for this one. Justin Henry continued to lead off, but C.J. Ketchum was moved down to the five spot from the two hole. Chris Coghlan was in that spot today, up one from the three hole where he'd been. Zack Cozart went from cleanup to the three spot, while Presley batted cleanup, moving up from fifth.
Presley did what the cleanup guy is supposed to do. He got the Rebels some important runs and gave them back the lead.
"It was big for us in this game to show that we were not going to lose this game," said Presley, 3-for-4 on the day with four RBI. "For us to fall behind and then for us to answer right back let them know we weren't going down without a fight today."
Logan Power in the eight hole went 3-for-4 in the game, while Cozart was 2-for-5 with an RBI.
"We had some big hits today, some timely hits," Bianco said. "We were able to answer. They got the big home run, and then we got the big home run from Presley. He was the four-hole guy and got the big hit.
"We needed to do something," Bianco said of the lineup change. "We hadn't been swinging it well, and we thought we'd switch it up a little bit. Obviously it worked today."
The Rebels added three more runs in the seventh to lead 6-2 on three RBI singles by Justin Henry, Cozart, and Presley. The Hogs cut the lead to 6-3 in the top of the eighth, but the Rebels got it back in the bottom of the eighth on another Coghlan RBI single.
Bukvich, who allowed only three runs on three hits with five strikeouts and two walks in moving to 5-4 on the season, said he was comfortable out there today and has become moreso as the spring has gone on.
"I've definitely grown into a comfort zone," said the redshirt freshman. "Even in the midweek games earlier, I knew they were big to help us get to the weekends. Now that I'm pitching on the weekends, I still have the same gameplan. Fortunately it's worked for me."
"Brett really stepped up and pitched a great game," Bianco said. "He really kept them off balance and was able to throw his off-speed pitches for strikes. Against an aggressive club like theirs, it worked today. He probably threw more sliders than he's used to throwing. We really mixed all three pitches well, and he was able to use both sides of the plate. He pitched that way last week (at Kentucky). Today we were able to score some runs for him. He was tremendous."
Kline went the final two innings, allowing no runs and just one hit with two strikouts and three walks. But with two walks sandwiching a strikeout in the top of the ninth, Kline got the Hogs to then strike out and ground out to end it.
"Will stepped up by not letting them get any more across today," team captain Henry said of Kline. "He's been our guy lately to come in and close things out. Even though he walked a few, they weren't going to score. It's nice to have a guy like that to call on out of the bullpen."
UA starter Daryl Maday fell to 1-1 with the loss.
Some fireworks in the top of the third inning were caused by Razorback catcher Brian Walker who thought he got hit by a Bukvich pitch, but the ump saw it differently. Moments later Walker struck out, protested vehemently, and was ejected. Blake Parker finished the game behind the plate for the Hogs.
The Rebs and Hogs wrapup the series Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Lance Lynn (Fr., RHP, 4-3, 4.53 ERA) will go for the Rebs, while Shaun Seibert (Soph., RHP, 3-0, 2.68 ERA) will start for Arkansas.
Rebs step up to beat Hogs 7-3
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