Door opens, Rebs walk right in

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Maybe a collision in the bottom of the fifth inning was more critical than it first appeared in the Friday night game between Ole Miss and Arkansas won 9-3 by the Rebels.

Ole Miss third baseman Zach Miller took a throw from left fielder Logan Power and tagged Razorback shortstop Scott Lyons, who was trying to turn a big hit to the wall into a three bagger.

But Miller, Lyons, and the baseball all met up at the same time as Lyons was nearing third. There was a fairly massive collision as Miller's shoulder met Lyons' face.

After a few moments, the Razorback infielder was able to stand up, with some assistance, and walk to the dugout, finished for the evening.

The Rebels, trailing 3-2 at the time, got an opening they might not have even known at the moment. But it was there.

A six-run top of the seventh gave Ole Miss (39-15 overall, 19-10 SEC) the lead and shortstop replacement Tim Carver had a hand. Two of the Hogs' three errors in the seventh were credited to Carver, who had come in for Lyons.

In that inning, Arkansas pitchers gave up four hits and walked three, in addition to three total errors.

Lyons had already figured in the early moments of this one for the Razorbacks (32-19, 14-14).

Arkansas led 2-0 with a controversial bottom of the first. Evan Button threw to Matt Smith for an out on a ball hit by Hogs leadoff batter Chase Leavitt. The ump called Leavitt out, but after an argument by Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn, the home plate umpire overruled the first base umpire and put the runner back on first, and that gave Button an error.

The next batter, the later-injured Lyons, sent a 3-2 pitch over the left field wall for an early Razorback lead.

But Rebel starter Brett Bukvich settled down, retook control of the game, and after giving up one more run in the second, the Hogs got nothing off the fifth-year Rebel lefty.

"It was not the start I wanted to get off to," said Bukvich, who wound up going six innings, allowing three runs, two earned, on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks. "I just didn't make pitches to them, fell behind, and it was tough. But I just kept pounding away at the strike zone and didn't give in."

That he didn't, and neither did his resilient team. The Rebels simply kept playing hard until that door opened in the seventh.

The bases were loaded in the seventh for Matt Smith, and the Rebel third-year sophomore and co-captain took advantage by greeting UA reliever Sam Murphy with a single just past the second baseman into right field for two RBI. That made it 4-3 Ole Miss.

Open door. Victory ahead.

Kyle Henson then strolled up and unleashed one over the left-field wall, a three-run blast that made it 7-3. The Rebels would add another run in the frame on a throwing error that allowed Zach Miller, who had walked, to get home from second on the throwing miscue.

Down 8-3, the Hogs couldn't muster anything offensively off Reb reliever Nathan Baker, who struck out four with a hit in three innings.

Henson's RBI single in the eighth scored Matt Smith who had doubled for the Rebs' final run.

"This was another game where we had to grind it out," Smith said, after going 3-for-4 with 2 RBI and three runs scored. "We were able to finally capitalize on some things tonight."

Bukvich got the win to move to 9-2 on the year. His 24 wins ties him for fourth on the all-time win list at Ole Miss.

Baker, who along with Bukvich held the Hogs to six hits, got his first save of the season.

Bianco said his team did what it does best – stay in the game, find the opening, and take advantage.

"Tonight was one of those grind it out games where we didn't play that well," he said. "It's uncharacteristic of us to have three errors. But just staying in the game and believing, and tonight was one of those type games."

Ole Miss, tied for first place in the overall SEC race with LSU after the Tigers lost to Mississippi State Friday, will send Phillip Irwin (RHP, 6-3, 3.76 ERA) to the mound Saturday for a scheduled 2 p.m. start. Arkansas' Justin Wells (RHP, 2-0, 3.43 ERA) will pitch for the Razorbacks.

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