By Nate Allen Sports
FAYETTEVILLE – For the first this SEC baseball season the Arkansas Razorbacks took a Sunday punch instead of delivering one.
The nationally No. 22 Ole Miss Rebels punched the nationally No. 8 Razorbacks, 10-5 Sunday at Baum-Walker Stadium in the rubber game of the SEC West series that opened with Arkansas winning 5-3 Friday night and the Rebels winning, 4-3 Saturday afternoon.
It marked the first SEC series lost this season for Coach Dave Van Horn’s Razorbacks, 22-6 and 6-3 in the SEC having swept Missouri here and beating Alabama 2 of 3 last weekend in Tuscaloosa.
It marked their first SEC series lost at home since Ole Miss in 2017.
Coach Mike Bianco’s Rebels improved to 20-9, 5-4 in the SEC.
The Razorbacks play the University of Arkansas-Little Rock for the first time ever in an official baseball game at 6:30 Tuesday night at Baum-Walker then play a Thursday through Saturday 3-game SEC West series at Auburn.
Cody Scroggins, the starting pitching key the previous two 3-2 and 10-2 SEC Sunday successes, “didn’t have command,” Sunday, he said.
Scroggins walked five and allowed five hits leaving after throwing 72 pitches through four complete down 2-0.
“I didn’t have my command at all today,” Scroggins said. “I had good stuff and good movement but I didn’t have command, to be honest. That was just about it.”
In retrospect, Scroggins pitched pretty well, Van Horn said as the right-handed from Bentonville battled to keep the Hogs in which the bullpen couldn’t do.
Arkansas’ two runs in its fourth on a Dominic Fletcher RBI single and Matt Goodheart grounding into a run-scoring doubleplay got Scroggins off the hook 2-2 but the bullpen also couldn’t find the plate.
Collectively, relievers Patrick Wicklander, Kevin Kopps, Zebulon Vermillion, Elijah Trest and Evan Taylor walked seven added to Scroggins passes for 12 walks plus 14 Ole Miss hits, including Kevin Graham’s home run, and two hit batsmen.
Kopps, Saturday’s loser in relief, was charged with Sunday’s loss as the Hogs were down a middle reliever/setup man with Jacob Kostyshock reporting an injury, Van Horn said, after pitching Friday night following winning starter Isaiah Campbell and closer Matt Cronin’s save.
Kopps bailed out Wicklander after Ole Miss scored two in the fifth and started the sixth with a 5-4 lead on Casey Martin’s 2-run home run and an RBI double by Fletcher, a 3 for 4 thorn in the Rebels’ side Friday night.
Ole Miss, paced by Cole Zabowski’s 3 for 5 and four RBI, and Thomas Dillard’s 3 for 5 and two RBI, broke it open off Kopps and Vermillion scoring three in the sixth and three in the seventh while Tyler Myers closed for winning reliever Zack Phillips by compiling a 4-inning save allowing but two hits striking out four and walking none.
“We didn’t give ourselves a chance to win the game,” Van Horn said. “I mean, we walked double digits and hit a couple. We fought back in the game, took the lead 5-4 and come out and walk the leadoff man on four pitches Next thing you know they score three. We’re down a couple runs. Come out and give up three more: more walks, a couple of hits. Give them credit. They’ve got a good lineup. But you’ve got to make people earn. it. It’s not throwing the ball over the plate that really made a difference in the game.”
With middle reliever Kole Ramage spent Saturday relieving starter Connor Noland and Sunday’s game never close enough late to use Cronin, a healthy Kostyshock would have helped Sunday and will be missed if his absence from the undisclosed injury proves lengthy.
“He was unavailable yesterday and today and we could have used him today,” Van Horn said.
Meanwhile Myers closed doing what his relievers didn’t, Van Horn said other than Marshall Denton’s ninth inning.
“Myers did a nice job because he threw strikes,” Van Horn said. He wasn’t overpowering but what he did is he made us earn it. He didn’t walk anybody.”
By Nate Allen Sports