The Ole Miss baseball team’s electrifying late-season run featuring their snazzy powder blue uniforms, dugout costumes and all-around spectacular play ended in Fayetteville as just about everything went wrong in a 14-1 loss on Monday.
The elimination game ended the Rebels’ 2019 campaign just one win away from Omaha.
The explosive Ole Miss offense that launched 13 runs on four homers the day before and guided the team through the SEC Tournament and NCAA Regionals was neutralized by experienced Arkansas relievers Cody Scroggins and Jacob Kostyshock.
Ole Miss was able to square up freshman left-hander Patrick Wicklander’s breaking ball early. Cooper Johnson put a single straight up the middle with two outs to bring in Olenek, who was hit by a pitch, from third, causing Dave Van Horn called upon experienced reliever Cody Scroggins to get Arkansas out of the inning after a tough start.
Just like the first two games of the series, the team to claim the early lead quickly fell behind in a big way.
Gunnar Hoglund had a series of good outings in his past few starts, and while he hasn’t dominated like his fellow freshman Doug Nikhazy, he’s been able to get the job done in crucial moments. Hoglund held the Arkansas three hits in the SEC Tournament in 6.1 innings, but after a 1-2-3 first inning, the Arkansas lineup started to take advantage of his lack of control.
He got into some trouble in the second when Casey Opitz and Jacob Nesbit hit back-to-back RBIs to give the Razorbacks the lead. Trevor Ezell came up with his hot bat to smack a fastball that hung right down the middle of the zone with runners on second and third to bring the score to 4-1.
Hoglund continued to miss in the third, giving up a single and a walk without an out before Mike Bianco hailed Austin Miller from the bullpen. Miller had pitched well in his three earlier appearances against Arkansas, but Heston Kjerstad only took three pitches from Miller to answer with a two-RBI double. Kjerstad come back later to hit one out of the park and force Miller off the mound in the fifth.
It only got uglier after appearances from Parker Caracci and Zack Phillips, the Razorbacks extended the lead to 14-1 and to give the Razorbacks their second-consecutive trip to Omaha.
The loss marks another disappointing end to a season with a talented roster playing ball in Oxford. The top-ranked class of 2016 couldn’t punch a ticket to Omaha after three years on campus with most of the class likely leaving to play professionally.
The postseason struggles are nothing new for Mike Bianco, as he’s only been able to get to the College World Series once in his 19 years at Ole Miss.
Ole Miss finished the season with a 41-27 record.