FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – It was a pitcher’s duel from the start between the Rebels and Razorbacks on Thursday night, and though the Rebels blinked first, it was Ole Miss (30-23, 13-15 SEC) that came out on top with timely hitting in a 2-1 win over Arkansas (34-18, 13-15 SEC) at Baum Stadium.
With a solo home run in the sixth to get Arkansas on the board, the Rebels buckled down to get out of the inning and responded with a pair of runs in the top of the seventh before Jake Morgan closed things out down the stretch to give Ole Miss the series opening victory.
Matt Crouse (7-4) grabbed the win as he worked 6.1 innings and allowed only one run on the solo shot from Colin Kuhn as one of five hits. He also struck out four while walking two. Morgan then picked up his sixth save of the season, working the final 2.2 innings and holding the Razorbacks scoreless with one hit, a walk and four strikeouts.
Morgan entered the game in the seventh with two men on and got a crucial ground ball double play with the bases loaded to keep Arkansas off the board and preserve the win. Morgan is now 3-0 with six saves in 11 appearances this season.
“Both pitching staffs were great tonight, especially both starters,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “They matched each other pitch for pitch. Both clubs hit some hard balls right at people, but the pitchers really dominated early. We got some timely hits and a big double play to get out of the seventh inning. There were very few opportunities tonight, we just succeeded on the few we had.”
Both pitchers cruised early, putting zeros on the board through the first 5.5 innings of play as neither team could get an opportunity to push a run across the plate and get on the board.
Colin Kuhn broke up the pitcher’s duel in the sixth inning, hitting a ball into the bullpen in left field with one out on the board to give the Razorbacks a 1-0 lead on the Rebels.
Ole Miss answered in the seventh, taking the lead with a pair of runs thanks to a rally started by an infield single deep to the hole at second from Yarbrough. Matt Smith then singled to move Yarbrough to second before a single to right center from Matt Snyder scored Yarbrough and put men at the corners. A sac fly to left from Tracy brought home Smith and the Rebels held the 2-1 lead.
Arkansas threatened in the bottom of the seventh, putting men at the corners with one out when the Rebels turned to the bullpen for Jake Morgan. Morgan worked the first batter faced to a full count before issuing a walk to load the bags, but got the next batter to hit into a double play to end the inning with the Rebels still up by one.
Morgan and the Rebels cruised from there, holding the Razorbacks off the board the rest of the way to grab the series opening win and pull Ole Miss into a four-way tie for second in the SEC West with two games left in the season.
Ole Miss and Arkansas will play the second game of the series at 6 p.m. on Friday night in a contest televised by CSS.
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