Rebels roll on Saturday with 5-0 win

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Brett Bukvich had to endure seven weeks between SEC starts, but the tall left-hander made sure his return was memorable.

The sophomore pitched seven shutout innings of two-hit baseball as No. 21 Ole Miss (35-21, 16-14) shook off the Friday setback and blanked No. 9 Arkansas (38-18, 18-12) 5-0 for the series victory before a Baum Stadium crowd of 9,508. It was Bukvich's first start since facing Alabama on the second Sunday of conference play.

"I felt really good out there today," Bukvich said. "The offspeed stuff was working, and I was able to get ahead a lot of the time. They were off-balance for most of the day."

The Rebels scored their five runs over the first five innings and relied on Bukvich (7-2), Scott Bittle and Craig Rodriguez to scatter four Hog hits and strike out a combined nine batters.

Effective and timely pitching was needed to preserve the shutout with Arkansas stranding a runner at third in five of the nine innings.

"Bukvich was a good fit for their lineup because of their power," Rebel head coach Mike Bianco said. "His change-up and offspeed pitches were effective and working. The runs early supplied a boost, and it was a solid day."

With the victory and a South Carolina win over Georgia, Ole Miss claims the five seed in the upcoming SEC Tournament and will face Mississippi State at 8 p.m. Wednesday night in Hoover, Ala. The Rebels bested the Bulldogs two games to one during the regular season in Oxford but lost the Governor's Cup in Pearl.

Ole Miss' resume for a host spot in the upcoming NCAA Regionals is also strengthened since the Rebels have series wins over South Carolina, Mississippi State and the Razorbacks.

"I think we have to do some damage in the Tournament to host, but today was a big step," Bukvich said. "We have beat some good teams and played well for the majority of the season. We have a good case."

Duke Welker (5-5) took the loss for Arkansas as he allowed all five runs in five innings of work. Four other Hog hurlers kept Ole Miss at bay during the final four frames.

The Rebels got things started with two runs in the opening frame thanks to two Welker miscues. Jordan led off with a single and Zack Cozart followed by being hit by a pitch. Justin Henry sacrificed the runners over before Welker went to work for Ole Miss. A wild pitch allowed Jordan to score followed by a balk that brought home Cozart.

The Rebels struck again in the fourth as Justin Henry led off with a double and stole third. Zach Miller drove him in with a sharp single through the infield. Then, Miller stole second and scored on a fielding error by Danny Hamblin off the bat of Evan Button.

Ole Miss' final run came an inning later after Jordan Henry was hit by a pitch and moved to third on a Cozart single and a fielder's choice from Justin Henry. Cody Overbeck lifted a shallow fly into left, and the speedy Jordan Henry raced home on the sac fly.

SEC Tournament Schedule Wednesday

10 a.m. No. 7 Alabama vs. No. 2 Arkansas

1 p.m. No. 6 Florida vs. No. 3 South Carolina

5 p.m. No. 8 Tennessee vs. No. 1 Vanderbilt

8 p.m. No. 5 Ole Miss vs. No. 4 Mississippi State

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