Rebels rally for 5-4 win over Arkansas

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Freshman Andrew Clark was having a nightmare day, but his final two at-bats on Friday turned the afternoon into a dream come true as No. 16 Ole Miss (8-3) posted a thrilling come-from-behind 5-4 win over No. 5 Arkansas (9-4) to open the Dairy Queen Classic.

Clark left the bat on his shoulder for two looking strikeouts early in the contest but it all turned around in the seventh inning with a 379-foot home run and later with a double into the right-field corner to key an eighth-inning Rebel rally.

"The big difference was that I actually swung," Clark said. "It was going to be the worst day of my life after those first two at-bats when I just froze out there. But then I hit the home run and everything just turned around."

The Rebels were trailing 4-2 in the eighth inning after Arkansas had broken the tie off reliever Craig Rodriguez in the top half. But for the first time since the Memphis game, the Ole Miss offense erupted for three runs and provided closer Scott Bittle an opportunity to pick up his fourth save of the year.

Clark cut the deficit to one with the double and a passed ball by Arkansas catcher Brian Walker tied the contest a batter later. Evan Button lifted a fly ball into left field to score Peyton Farr on a sac fly moments later, giving the Rebels their first lead of the day.

Starting pitcher Will Kline gave another sterling performance and allowed Ole Miss to stay in striking distance. The Tupelo native allowed four hits and two runs in seven innings of work. He struck out nine and walked two.

"I thought Kline was just sensational," head coach Mike Bianco said. "I think it might be his best day of the year. He had command of all three pitches. He was very dominant against a team that is really good offensively."

Kline was saddled with a no decision for the second straight week after solid performances. He left with a 2-2 tie against Wright State on Feb. 23.

"My goal going in is to give the team a chance to win," Kline said. "I was able to keep us in it. It was fun to pitch in a big-league stadium against a quality team. It was just awesome."

Three Razorback relievers were torched for four runs in three innings of work with Jess Todd named the losing pitcher with two runs in one inning pinned to him.

Shaun Seibert started for Arkansas and went five innings and allowed just one run during his first Friday appearance of the season. Hog ace Nick Schmidt is scheduled to throw on Sunday against Minnesota.

"I am not disappointed at all about not going up against Schmidt," Kline said while laughing. "How often do you want to go up against the SEC Pitcher of the Year? They are good no matter who is throwing. Just happy that we played well."

Arkansas scored in the top of the first after a Kline walk, a sacrifice bunt and a single. The Rebels tied it in the bottom of the fourth thanks to junior Justin Henry and Zack Cozart. Henry led off the inning with a single, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sac-fly from Cozart.

The Razorbacks regained the lead in the sixth on an RBI single by Casey Coon. Clark's home run evened it up in the seventh.

Rodriguez (1-0) picked up the win despite the rough outing.

Bianco was hesitant to mark this as a turn-around day, but he was hopeful.

"We might wake up two months from now and this have been the day," Bianco said. "Hopefully so, but we will leave that for now. It was definitely what we needed right now."

The attendance was listed 432 and more than half of those were dressed in Rebel colors.

"It was just an unbelievable crowd" Bianco added. "I am so proud and thankful for it. It is a tough weather weekend and with this many people, it's just really neat."

Ole Miss finishes up its Minnesota trip tomorrow with a double header against the homestanding Golden Gophers. The first game is at 12 p.m. and the second will begin 45 minutes following the first one ending.

Rebel Kyle Mills was inactive due to colliding with wall during practice on Friday night. He underwent X-rays that returned negative and is listed as day-to-day. ‘

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