Cardiac collapse gives Hogs West title

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - It happened in perhaps the cruelest way possible. The Rebels were two outs from taking the title chase to the final day, but in a year of continuous one-run setbacks, another devastating chapter was added to the book of what could have been.

No. 9 Arkansas (38-17, 18-12) and No. 21 Ole Miss' second straight battle couldn't be decided in regulation and both teams steadied for knockout blows in the first frame of free baseball. The Rebels broke the deadlock with two runs in the top half, but the Hogs countered with an offensive outburst of their own to walk-off the Rebels 4-3 and snatch their first Western Division championship since 2004.

The draining single-run defeat was the 12th this season and the staggering eighth of conference play for Ole Miss (34-21, 15-14), who is now going to finish no better than fourth in the SEC Tournament seeding and is on the regional host bubble at best.

"We've been in a lot of these games," head coach Mike Bianco said. "I think this is our twentieth one-run game. We've been in a lot of tough battles and they realize that obviously we don't feel good right now, but you've got to tip your hat to Arkansas and be ready to play tomorrow."

The loss wasted a sterling performance by starter Lance Lynn. The sophomore went seven strong innings and allowed only one first inning run. He struck out eight Razorbacks and now has 120 punch-outs on the year which ties him for first all-time in a season with Mark Holliman's 2005 total.

Arkansas starter Jess Todd was just as effective, going nine innings and also allowing just one run. Todd struck out 12 and yielded four hits.

"I thought he (Lynn) had a pretty good stuff tonight," Bianco said. "He had a breaking ball he threw in the strike zone. He competed well tonight and pitched his heart out, and so did Todd. Todd was tremendous as well. It was just one of those games where I think both offenses were waiting for both guys to get out of the game."

The Rebels got things started in the tenth with Zach Miller reaching on an error by shortstop Tim Smalling before designated hitter Fuller Smith laced an 0-1 pitch into the right-field corner for a triple that scored Miller. JoJo Tann entered to run for Smith and was brought home a batter later by a Brett Basham suicide squeeze. Dallas Keuchel (6-2) received the win with Zack Cozart grounding out to end the inning.

The Baum Stadium attendance of 9,812 were dead silent after Ole Miss took the advantage, but the large group of Arkansas faithful pepped up shortly after when Rebel closer Cody Satterwhite (4-3) struggled to find the strike zone.

The right-hander, who picked up the win on Thursday, walked two straight Razorbacks to lead off the bottom half of the inning and both runners advanced to second and third on a throwing error by Basham.

Satterwhite induced the next hitter into a flyout in foul territory down the left side, but pinch runner Matt Willard tagged and scored as Justin Henry's throw beat the runner but was not secured by Basham.

Two more Satterwhite walks set the stage for Arkansas' only hit of the inning. Wayne Hrozek, who connected for a three-run homer on Thursday, sent a Satterwhite fastball off the right-field wall that scored the tying and game winning runs and handed the Hogs the division. Out of 30 pitches, Satterwhite tossed only 12 strikes.

The Razorbacks took the early lead in the first inning after Ben Tschepikow singled and was brought home on a single by clean-up hitter Casey Coon. Lynn threw up six straight zeros from that point and relief pitcher Justin Cryer followed suit with two innings of no-hit baseball himself.

The Rebels scratched for the tying run in the fifth when Miller doubled down the third-base line and moved to third on a groundout by Smith. Alex Kliman drove in Miller with a sharp infield single.

Ole Miss and Arkansas play the rubber match at 2 p.m. Saturday. Brett Bukvich will start for the Rebels against the Razorbacks' Duke Welker.

"I think this was good and bad," Lynn said. "We made a run at it ourselves, but tomorrow we'll come out and Buk is throwing tomorrow. We'll have a good mix of him and our offense."

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