Rebs defeat Hogs, 5-4, on Coghlan's single

3B Chris Coghlan drove in Pinch Runner Cody Overbeck from third base with a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth inning to break open a 4-4 tie and give the Rebs a 5-4 win and a 2-1 series victory over No. 10 Arkansas. With the win, the Rebs also clinched a spot in the 8-team SEC Tournament. Read about it inside.

With the Sunday game versus Arkansas tied 4-4 and Rebel runners on first and third with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, 3B Chris Coghlan, who already had two doubles on the day, was looking for a fastball to drive against Arkansas Closer Devin Collis, who entered the game with an ERA under 2.00.

After taking a fastball inside for a ball, Cogs got the pitch he was looking for and bounced it through the middle of the infield for the game-winning hit that plated Pinch Runner Cody Overbeck. The 5-4 victory gave the Rebs a 2-1 series edge over the 10th-ranked Razorbacks and knotted the Rebs with Arkansas in second place in the SEC West.

"Coach (Mike) Bianco moved me up to the two-hole Saturday and that gave me the opportunity to win it today. If I had been in the three-hole, I may not have had the chance. I was thinking fastball and got one over the plate. I just tried to find a hole in the infield and end the game," said Coghlan, a preseason All-American.

The Rebs are now 33-19 overall and 15-12 in the SEC, while Arkansas is now 35-17 and also 15-12. Arkansas and Ole Miss are tied for second in the West two games behind leader Alabama, who is 36-17 and 17-10, heading into the final SEC weekend series.

"This was a huge win for us because it keeps us in the race and it secured a spot in the SEC Tournament as we head to face our rivals, Mississippi State, next weekend (Thursday-Saturday in Starkville). We needed this one today," said Coghlan, who drove in 2 runs and scored another on the day.

The contest was a typical late-season SEC battle with a lot riding on the outcome and visible intensity from both clubs.

Through five frames it appeared the Rebs had pretty good control of the game as starter Lance Lynn pitched five shutout innings and was staked to a 2-0 lead after the Rebs put a pair of runs on the board in the bottom of the third.

LF Logan Power led off the third with the first Reb hit of the day off Arkansas starter Shaun Seibert, who entered the game with a 3-0 record and sterling 2.49 earned run average.

Logan then stole second and advanced to third on an infield single by 2B Justin Henry. An opposite field, bloop double to left by Cogs plated Power and then SS Zack Cozart drove a sacrifice fly to center to score Henry.

With Lynn cruising and a 2-0 lead, things were looking up for the Rebs. The optimism for the home team heightened in the fourth when 1B C.J. Ketchum singled and then scored from first when C Justin Brashear doubled off the left centerfield wall for a 3-0 margin.

Reality came back into play quickly, however. Sunday SEC games late in the season - nine times out of 10 - are going to go to the wire. It's just in the cards. This one was destined to be no different.

In the top of the sixth, Hog CF Craig Gentry drew a walk from Lynn and was followed by a two-run shot over the right field wall by RF Jake Dugger. Bianco pulled Lynn in favor of LH Reliever Garrett White, who put out the Hogs' fire, but the score was now a much tighter 3-2 in favor of Ole Miss.

Ole Miss added a run in the bottom of the seventh when Coghlan was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored on a Cozart two-out single after a pop foul was dropped by Hog C Brian Walker, roundly booed all day by the Rebel fans after being ejected in yesterday's game for arguing a called strike three pitch. Cozart took advantage of his second chance with his 54th RBI of the year, second on the team to Alex Presely's 55.

Again, things were looking almost comfortable for the Rebs heading into the eighth frame with a 4-2 lead and White appearing relaxed on the mound.

Again, this is late-season SEC baseball and the Rebs did a momentary self-destruction act. White walked the first two batters and was pulled in favor of Will Kline, who pitched beautifully in Saturday's win. Kline immeidately walked the bases full and was facing Danny Hamblin, one of the RBI leaders in the SEC, who sharply doubled down the left field line, knotting the score at 4-all.

Kline then buckled down to fan Walker, to the extra delight of the crowd, intentionally walk Clint Arnold to load the bases and set up the double play, struck out DH Blake Parker and fanned 3B Logan Forsythe looking to get out of the jam.

All three Rebs struck out in the bottom of the eighth, but Kline was dominant in the top of the ninth, stricking out two and getting an out with a lazy fly to Cozart in shallow left.

"The way Will mowed them down in the top of the ninth gave us some momentum to go ahead and win the game in the bottom of the ninth," said Bianco. "He was dominant."

And that's exactly what the Rebs did.

After Power lined out to deep left centerfield to start the ninth, PH Jon Jon Hancock, batting against the lefty Collis in place of Evan Button, who was the DH on the day, singled between third and short to get things going.

Bianco summoned Cody Overbeck to pinch run for Hancock. Henry then lashed a single to right and Overbeck alertly took two bags on the play.

"That was some good hitting by Jon Jon and some aggressive baserunning by Cody. A lot of guys come in a game cold and don't produce like that in those kinds of situations. Both of them came through and won the game for us," Bianco noted.

With runners on first and third, it set the stage for Coghlan's heroics.

On the second pitch to the junior third-sacker, the game was over and the crowd of 4,314 on a beautiful Mother's Day erupted.

Everyone knew the importance of the win.

"We were pretty low after Friday's loss," Bianco explained. "We had lost four in a row and were struggling. But we had a team meeting before Saturday's game and discussed a lot of things. I reminded them that we were 13-12 last year after losing a Friday game and we reeled off five in a row at the end to go 18-12.

"We talked about attitude and how you carry yourself, confidence and what's in your heart. I am so proud of the way the kids responded Saturday and today."

Kline, now 3-2, got the win with 2.0 innings of work. He gave up only one hit - the double to Hamblin, and struck out 5. The two runs on the lone safety he surrendered were credited to White.

Collis, now 7-3, was tagged for the loss in 1.2 innings of work. He gave up three hits and one earned run, which was the difference in the one-run contest.

Offensively for the Rebs, Coghlan had three hits, a pair of runs batted in and scored a run. Henry and C.J. Ketchum each added two hits and each scored a run. The Rebs had 11 hits on the day and committed no errors in the field.

Arkansas was held to six safeties, but they made them count with four runs. Dugger had two hits, scored twice and drove in two. 2B James Ewing also had two hits for the Hogs. Arkansas did not commit an error in the field either.

"This was a great series. Arkansas is a great club. We had to have two this weekend and we got them," said the hero, Coghlan. "I'm glad we came through because after Friday night it wasn't looking real promising.

"We've got a big series next weekend with Mississippi State and we play Memphis Tuesday night. Now it gets to be a lot of fun because a lot is still on the line. Who knows? We are just two games behind Alabama. Anything can happen on the last weekend. Mississippi State will be ready for us and we'll be ready too."

Bianco was happy about the Rebs clinching a spot in the SEC Tourney, but he said there's still a lot of meaningful baseball to be played.

"We are still playing for the West title, a chance to host a regional and a better seed in the tournament," he explained. "We are happy to be in the tournament, but there's more work to be done."

Bianco announced a pitching rotation change for this week during the postgame press conference.

Craig Rodriguez, who usually starts the first game each weekend, will get the start against Memphis Tuesday night at 6:30.

Kline will start against MSU Thursday night. Kline defeated MSU 1-0 in the Mayor's Trophy game earlier in the season.

Brett Bukvich will start Friday's game and Lance Lynn will pitch Saturday's third game.

Due to the SEC Tournament in Hoover, AL, starting a week from Wednesday, all SEC series this week will be Thursday-Saturday instead of Friday-Sunday.

Now things get real interesting.

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