Sun April 07, 2024

By Lance Hawley

Hogs Sweep Ole Miss
By Otis Kirk

FAYETTEVILLE -- No. 1 Arkansas completed another sweep of an SEC opponent with a 7-4 win over Ole Miss Saturday at Baum-Walker Stadium.

It was a big day for freshman designated hitter Nolan Souza. He was 3 for 5 with two home runs and five runs batted in with 11,184 fans cheering him and the Hogs on. Dave Van Horn was impressed with what Souza did.

"It was a really big game for us," Van Horn said. "We talked the guys a lot yesterday after the game about the opportunity to sweep. It gives you an opportunity, that if things don’t go well for you down the road one weekend … Any time you finish somebody off, especially at your own ballpark, it would be a great win for us. 

"We came out and played hard. We were down, we’re tied, we’re up, we’re down. Just back and forth. We put together a little rally there in seventh, and then Souza hit the home run against a 30-mile an hour wind. Very rarely are you going to see that where you know when it leaves the bat it’s out of the park when the wind’s blowing that hard. Just a great swing and a good inning there to grab that little bit of a cushion."

Souza gave the Hogs a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth. He then had an RBI single in the fifth before his three-run shot in the seventh inning.

"The three-run home run obviously was a big swing," Van Horn said. "The solo home run to give us the lead was huge. And then the two-out single through a vacated 6-hole basically where the shortstop plays. He did it with two strikes, drove in another run. We scored seven runs and he drove in five of them. It was a great day.

"Proud of him. He just hung in there and laid off a few borderline pitches and got him a fastball he could handle, and he handled it about as good as you can. That was a big swing."

Souza also had two home runs against Missouri earlier this season.

"I think today was a really good win," Souza said. "We fought as a team on both sides of the ball. It was pretty tricky with the wind on defense on both sides. I think we just did a really good job of battling, getting guys on base and cashing in when we had the opportunity."

Arkansas (27-3, 11-1) used five pitchers on the day. Gabe Gaeckle (1-2) got the win pitching 2.2 innings. Will McEntire worked 0.2 inning to earn the save. Brady Tygart started and worked 4.1 innings allowing four hits and two runs while walking three and striking out seven. Jake Faherty and Parker Coil also took the mound for Arkansas. They combined to allow nine hits and struck out 17.

"Overall I thought Tygart threw the ball pretty good," Van Horn said. "It looked like he just kind of ran out of gas. His breaking stuff was real good today. Fastball was good. Just missing. Didn’t have bad misses. Just felt like it was time to get him out. I know a lot of you guys probably don’t know this, but he was sick. We actually sent him home yesterday. He wasn’t at the game. So we were a little nervous about him staying out there too long, because he was under the weather.  

"But I thought he gutted it up and did a great job. I really liked what I saw from Faherty. He came in and got two outs. We let that go there. Then Coil, I thought he was throwing the ball great. He had an 0-2 count on the hitter with one out. The pitch was supposed to be buried in the dirt and he threw it right down the middle belt high. The next thing you know we’re chasing it to the fence. Other than that, I thought he was really good. So that was great to see.

"Gaeckle and McEntire finished it up for us … Big weekend for us winning three. Now we’ve got a big week ahead of us where we play five games."

Ole Miss (18-15, 3-9) continues to struggle in SEC play.