Things started off on a good note.
Then, it all went to hell.
Ole Miss (41-27) jumped out to a 1-0 lead with a two-out RBI by Cooper Johnson but tons of runners left on and Gunnar Hoglund not locating his fastball led to a lopsided 14-1 game three win for Arkansas, effectively ending the Rebels’ season one win shy of the College World Series.
Hoglund navigated through some trouble early and even had a 1,2,3 inning before the wheels came off. Arkansas pounded Ole Miss pitching, scoring four in the second, three in the third, and one run in the fourth and fifth innings consecutively to put the clamps on an explosive Rebel offense.
Ole Miss had runners in scoring position twice early on but could not push across any insurance runs to pad the 1-0 lead and Dave Van Horn’s Hog offense made Mike Bianco’s pitchers pay. On the flip side, after Ole Miss chased Patrick Wicklander in the first inning, Arkansas went to Cody Scroggins quickly and he slammed the door on Ole Miss instantly. The Hog hurler came in and tossed scoreless inning after scoreless inning and was lights out against an offense that dropped 13 runs on their head the day before.
Things seemed to turn when Hoglund barely got out of the second inning that was assisted by an error on a soft liner to left field. Thomas Dillard came in and slid on one knee but mishandled it and then the proverbial floodgates opened. What could’ve been a 2-1 game quickly turned into 4-1.
Bianco then trotted Hoglund back out for the third inning and Arkansas promptly welcomed him with a couple extra-base hits and effectively ran him back to the dugout. Arkansas seemed to have a plan ready when things got hairy and Ole Miss did not. Simple as that.
Ole Miss mustered only five hits on the day, stranded seven runners on base, and struck out 10 times.
The Rebels finish a roller coaster season where they defeated these same Razorbacks in a three-game series in March as well as sweeps over Texas A&M and Florida and made it to their second consecutive SEC Tournament title game.
But, this team was built for much more than that. The No. 1 recruiting class might’ve won a conference tournament title, but they never made it to Omaha. And that’s unfortunately what their legacy will be. An uber-talented team that came up short.
Sure, this year’s campaign was going to be a rough one. After all, they had to replace their entire weekend rotation. But, they had a chance to make it back to TD Ameritrade Stadium (in a more than manageable bracket, mind you) and just couldn’t get it done.
Lost in all this is that Arkansas is the No. 5 overall seed and very, very good at baseball. But, nevertheless, our good, good boys deserve some praise. These dudes battled their tails off all year when it looked pretty bleak, got to host a regional, and fought tooth and nail with one of the top-eight baseball teams in the country to a third and decisive game in a road Super Regional. It just unfortunately wasn’t enough.
Best of luck to all the homies who were drafted this season. Go do big things in the league.
Alas, another year and, you guessed it, Ole Miss at home again.