Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Biletnikoff Award.
Hogs' big rally eliminates Ole Miss
Arkansas pitcher Jacob Stone celebrates after striking out Ole Miss batter Will Allen in the ninth inning of a SEC Tournament game Friday, May 23, 2014 at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, Ala.
Joe Serrano scored the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning as Arkansas overcame a six-run deficit to beat No. 10 Ole Miss 8-7 Friday at the SEC Tournament.
The Razorbacks advanced to play LSU in the semifinals of the tournament Saturday at noon. The winner of Saturday's game will advance to Sunday's championship game.
Ole Miss roughed up Arkansas starter Dominic Taccolini and led 6-0 after three innings, but the Razorbacks battled back to tie the game on two separate occasions before Serrano's game-winning run. Serrano led off the ninth with a double and was called safe despite replays showing he was out at second base.
Serrano advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt by KJ Wilkerson and scored on a sacrifice fly by Brian Anderson.
Arkansas (38-22) recorded its biggest comeback win since May 9, 2008 when the Razorbacks overcame a six-run deficit to beat South Carolina at Baum Stadium.
Freshman pitcher James Teague gave Arkansas a lift out of the bullpen, allowing two runs in 4 2/3 innings to keep the Razorbacks close. Pitching for the first time since April 23 and for the first time in SEC play, Teague retired nine consecutive batters at one point. Teague had thrown only 11 innings prior to Friday's game.
The right-hander left the game in the seventh inning after allowing a leadoff double. Sikes Orvis' groundout RBI off Arkansas reliever Michael Gunn gave Ole Miss a 7-6 lead.
But the Razorbacks battled back, tying the game again in the top of the eighth inning. Tyler Spoon led off the inning with a double and scored on a RBI single by freshman Josh Alberius, who entered the game after third baseman Bobby Wernes left with a back injury.
Jacob Stone recorded his second save in three days against the Rebels, working around a single in the ninth inning. Austin Anderson recorded a one-out hit for Ole Miss in the ninth but was thrown out by Spoon trying to slide into second base.
Taccolini struggled in the start for the Razorbacks, allowing five runs on seven hits in only 1 2/3 innings.
Arkansas began its comeback in the fourth inning, scoring three runs off Ole Miss starter Sam Smith. The Razorbacks were aided by two walks and an error in the inning to pull within 6-3.
Arkansas tied the game with three more runs in the fifth. Clark Eagan, Serrano and Wilkerson all had hits with no outs in the inning. Eagan scored on Wilkerson's RBI double to pull within 6-4. Anderson added a fielder's choice and Eric Fisher had a RBI single to complete the comeback.
The win was the Razorbacks' third straight over Ole Miss after dropping the first two games of their regular season series. Arkansas beat the Rebels 11-1 on May 4 and 2-1 on Tuesday.
Ole Miss (41-18) was eliminated from the tournament with the loss. Arkansas and LSU (42-14-1) will meet in the tournament's semifinals for the second straight year.