Getting It Done

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Ole Miss Rebels went to bed Friday night knowing they had a chance to win the SEC. They obviously woke up Saturday morning intending to do just that.

Ole Miss, which beat Arkansas 16-3, won a school-record 20 SEC games. No Ole Miss team had won more than 18 previously.

The Rebels (40-15 overall, 20-10 SEC) won 40 games for only the second time in a regular season, matching the 2005 team's 40 regular campaign victories.

Ole Miss last won the SEC title in baseball in 1977, and this year's crown is the seventh in the history of the program. The Rebels also claimed SEC Tournament crowns in 1977 and 2006.

For Rebel starting pitcher Phillip Irwin, the prospects of it all were a bit overwhelming, although his performance Saturday didn't show it.

"I was really nervous last night," said Irwin, who got the win to move to 7-3, going six innings and giving up three runs on eight hits with five strikeouts and two walks. "I heard LSU lost and I knew I was going to be pitching for a championship. I just trust my routine, and when I got out there I was fine."

Logan Power admitted he had trouble getting some rest.

"We couldn't even sleep last night," said the fifth-year senior, who rooms with the other fifth-year senior on the ballclub, Brett Bukvich. "Buk's my roommate and we were up at like 6 o'clock. Our breakfast time wasn't until 9:30. But we just had that feeling today.

Ole Miss, the SEC champion along with LSU, will be the third seed in the SEC Tournament and will face sixth-seeded Georgia (35-20, 15-15) at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The SEC East Bulldogs went 1-8 in their last nine SEC games.

Here on Saturday, the Rebels took an early lead at 2-0 in the first inning of the series finale. By the end of the fourth inning, it was 12-1. The outcome was no longer in doubt.

Rebel bats got hot and stayed hot. Logan Power's leadoff solo shot just left of the center field backdrop made it 3-0. After Matt Smith walked and there were two outs, Zach Miller launched one just left of where Power's had landed.

Arkansas was scrambling and was clearly in trouble. The Razorbacks made a pitching change as starter Justin Wells was pulled. Drew Smyly got an out to end the third, but things got worse in the fourth.

Ole Miss put up a seven spot as this one had turned into a rout. With the bases loaded, Matt Smith walked to make it 6-1. Kyle Henson doubled to score three runs and make it 9-1. Jeremy Travis homered with two Rebs on to make it 12-1 after three and a half. Tim Ferguson added a solo home run to lead off the fifth and it was 13-1.

Things didn't get much better for the Hogs (32-20, 14-15) as the game moved on, and this one stayed clearly in control of the Rebels.

Arkansas lost its eight straight SEC game to end the regular season. The Hogs are the seventh seed and play second seed Florida Wednesday morning at 10 in Hoover.

Ole Miss had 14 hits to Arkansas' eight. Jordan Henry was 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Ferguson was 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.

The Razorbacks used six pitchers in the game and all had trouble slowing the Rebels down.

UA starter Wells (2-1) was saddled with the loss in his first start of the season.

Wade Broyles came in for Irwin and pitched the seventh and eighth with a strikeout, and Rory McKean took care of the ninth.

The Rebels said they knew what they had to do, knew what they wanted to do. So they went out and did it.

"In our pregame meal, nobody really talked about it," Power said. "We were really focused and it showed out there on the field today. We put up a two-spot in the top of the first, and Phillip dominates them on the mound in the bottom of the first. We just took it from there."

Irwin said he wasn't at the top of his game on this day, but ultimately he didn't need to be.

"I don't think I had my best stuff," Irwin said. "But you don't have to be your best when your offense puts up 16 runs. It takes the pressure off of you."

But pressure was something that never really got in the way for this team. And they proved that again this weekend.

The Rebels never lost more than two games in a row all season. It was a team that didn't let things unravel at any point.

"That was a big stat," Power said of no real team slumps. "It was big for us to always be able to bounce back. There were times I remember like the Friday night of Georgia and the Sunday game against Mississippi State. Just being able to bounce back and lock back in was big for us."

And now they get to do more of what got them to this point beginning Wednesday afternoon.

"Just very, very proud of them," Mike Bianco said after receiving an ice bucket bath from Basham and Power. "We didn't have to come out and play for the championship. We just had to come out and play the game like we have all year."

Bianco said this one indeed means a lot.

"Very consistent year," he said. "Since conference play started, we've played as well as anybody in the country for 10 weeks."

It's what championship teams do.


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