In recent outings against LSU and Mississippi State, even though Ole Miss won both games, Barrett wasn't as sharp as he had been earlier this season. But the Hogs had a hard time getting anything done against him in this one.
"I just went back to the mindset I had the first eight or nine starts. I just tried to go out there and attack," said Barrett, who improved to 7-2 on the season with the win. "I had gotten away from that the last couple of starts. Instead of nit-picking too much, I just went out there and let them hit it, attack the zone. Just tried to go out there and be free and easy and loose, fill up the zone and attack them."
The Rebels improved to 34-14 this season, while Arkansas is now 36-11. The teams are tied atop the SEC West with identical 15-8 marks.
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said it was good to see the old Barrett back in form.
"Barrett was tremendous tonight. It might be the best game he's thrown all year," he said. "He was mostly consistent through the eight innings. For the most part, he was ahead in the count all night. Unusual for him, he had some first and second pitch outs. Normally he doesn't. His stuff's so good that there are a lot of swings and misses. Like most strikeout guys, pitch counts can be an issue. But that wasn't an issue tonight.
"He had great fastball command, which I think has been the reason he's maybe struggled the last few weeks. His fastball command hasn't been as good. But he was as sharp tonight as I've seen him."
The Rebels got three runs early in this one. Matt Smith sent one out of the park, a two-run blast that also scored Alex Yarbrough who had doubled. It was Smith's team-leading 12th home run of the year.
In the second inning the Rebels scored again. Smith was involved again as he stretched a single all the way to second base on a throwing error on the Razorback shortstop. Tim Ferguson, who got aboard on a fielder's choice, scored from third. The junior center fielder had moved to third on a hit and run as Yarbrough singled.
That hit and run came on the first pitch after Ferguson had jammed a finger getting back into first base. After an injury timeout and a taping of the finger, Ferguson played the rest of the way.
Arkansas got a run to cut the UM lead to 3-1 in the top of the fourth on a leadoff solo home run by Zack Cox. The Hogs' last run of the game was also a solo home run, this time in the top of the ninth, a two-out pinch-hit solo shot by Tom Hauskey off Rebel closer Brett Huber.
Barrett had gotten out of a couple of jams in the sixth and seventh. In the seventh a spectacular inning-ending double play when Barrett, catcher Taylor Hightower and third baseman Zach Miller teammed up to get the Hogs' Travis Sample out in a rundown. Hightower then had the awareness to throw to third base where an equally aware shortstop Kevin Mort was there to tag out James McCann who was on the run from first base.
"That was awesome," said Matt Smith, 3-for-4 with three RBI. "Aaron did a good job realizing there was a runner on third, and Hightower had a heads-up play getting the dude at third. That was a big momentum swing for us."
Huber had relieved Barrett to start the ninth inning, and the Rebel starter said he would have loved to finish the contest. But he understood and agreed with the decision.
"I was in the training room having some heat on my arm, and the trainer came in and said you're coming out," Barrett said. "I was like "You've gotta be kidding me," because I wanted to go back out there."
But he deferred to the closer, redshirt freshman Huber, who finished things off.
"You have to put your closer in in that situation, so I wasn't too upset," Barrett said, smiling. "Huber's been great all year."
Really, so has Aaron Barrett.
Game three is at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Ole Miss will send RHP David Goforth (1-2, 8.15 ERA) back out to the mound for another Sunday start, while Arkansas plans to send LHP Randall Fant (3-1, 3.38 ERA) to face Ole Miss batters.