Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
SEC Tournament report:
Disputed call helps Arkansas
Arkansas' Joe Serrano slides as Ole Miss second baseman Preston Overbey applies a tag during the ninth inning of a SEC Tournament game Friday, May 23, 2014 at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, Ala. Serrano was called safe on the play and later scored the go-ahead run for the Razorbacks.
HOOVER, Ala. -- Maybe Joe Serrano was out, but second base umpire Scott Erby called him safe.
Serrano, Arkansas' designated hitter, hit a double leading off the ninth inning, then scored the winning run in the Razorbacks' 8-7 victory over Ole Miss Friday in the SEC Tournament.
A television replay appeared to show Serrano was tagged out by second baseman Preston Overbey.
Serrano lined a 2-1 pitch from Josh Laxer to left field and immediately set his sights on a double.
"Out of the box, I thought it might have been down the line," Serrano said. "I was thinking two the entire way."
Left fielder Braxton Lee kept the ball from getting into the corner and threw to shortstop Errol Robinson, who then threw to Overbey, waiting for the sliding Serrano.
"To me, when I slid in, it seemed like I touched the outside part of the base and he tagged the very front of the base," Serrano said. "I think that's what the umpire out there saw. I thought I was safe."
Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco shot out of the dugout to argue the call.
"Obviously, we had him out," Bianco said.
Arkansas will play LSU for the 10th time in the past two seasons when the teams meet in a semifinal game at noon today.
The Tigers are 6-3 in that span against the Razorbacks, including a 7-2 victory Thursday night that gave LSU a bye in the semifinals.
Arkansas and LSU play a three-game SEC series every season as West division rivals, and today will mark their fourth SEC Tournament matchup going back to last season, when the Razorbacks won 4-1, then were eliminated in a 3-1 semifinal loss.
"I enjoy playing LSU," Arkansas Coach Dave Horn said. "If you don't like playing teams like that, you shouldn't be in this business. You shouldn't be in this league.
"They're a great team, very well coached, and have a lot of talent."
LSU has outscored its opponents 75-7 during a six-game winning streak, including a 10-0, 11-3, 8-1 sweep at Auburn to end the regular season and an 11-1 victory over Vanderbilt to open the SEC Tournament. The Tigers' winning streak began with a 27-0 victory over Northwestern (La.) State.
"They're extremely hot right now, so it will be major challenge for us," Van Horn said. "We have a lot of respect for them and their program. "
LSU brings several thousand fans to the SEC Tournament, where Tigers Coach Paul Mainieri has a 20-4 record with four championships.
"They've got first-round guys, you know they're going to compete and you know it's going to be a crazy atmosphere," Arkansas junior outfielder and designated hitter Joe Serrano said of playing the Tigers in the SEC Tournament. "They have fans that come by the hordes to watch them play. You know it's going to be you vs the world."
Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said he plans to give freshman right-hander Zach Jackson (2-1, 1.70 ERA) his first career start when the Razorbacks play LSU.
Jackson has pitched 37 innings this season in relief, including the final three innings in Arkansas' 4-0 victory over Texas A&M Tuesday in the Razorbacks' SEC Tournament opener.
"He's a guy that down the road we might want to start," Van Horn said. "It could be next week, it could be next year.
"I think he's available and ready to go. After that, I don't know what to tell you."
LSU will start junior left-hander Kyle Bouman (4-2, 2.44 ERA), who started for the Tigers when Arkansas beat them 10-4 at Baton Rouge on April 13 during the regular season.
Bouman started but was taken out after one inning, when he gave up a slam to Blake Baxendale -- who is sidelined by a hamstring injury -- but said he's not dwelling on that game as he prepares to start against Arkansas again.
"I just look at this as another opportunity to go out and throw well," Bouman told the New Orleans Times Picayune. "I'm not going to change my pitch philosophy at all.
Ole Miss killer
Arkansas first baseman Eric Fisher went 2 for 5 against Ole Miss Friday to improve to 9 for 19 against the Rebels this season. He went 6 for 11 at Ole Miss in a regular-season series, then was 1 for 3 in the Razorbacks' 2-1 victory over the Rebels Wednesday.
The Rebels couldn't even get Fisher out Friday when the struck him out. After Fisher had a swinging third strike against Ole Miss reliever Josh Laxer, the ball got away for a wild pitch and Fisher was safe at first base.
Ole Miss had been 23-0 when scoring at least seven runs before losing to Arkansas 8-7 ... the Razorbacks improved to 26-34 all-time in the SEC Tournament and have won three games for the fourth time in 20 appearances ... Arkansas is 3-7 against LSU in the SEC Tournament ... the Razorbacks turned a double play in first inning for their SEC-leading 57th on the year.
at Hoover (Ala.) Metropolitan Stadium Double elimination
All times Central
Arkansas 8, Ole Miss 7
Ole Miss eliminated.
Florida 5, Mississippi State 1
Mississippi State eliminated.
Arkansas vs. LSU, noon
Florida vs. Kentucky, 3:30 p.m.
Sports on 05/24/2014