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Friday, May 6, 2016

Hog Calls

Thursday, May 26, 2005

FAYETTEVILLE -- With its momentum stuck in reverse, Arkansas backed into the SEC Tournament Sunday.

Ole Miss, tying LSU for the SEC West championship at 18-11, beat the Razorbacks 9-1 Sunday, completing a three-game sweep at Baum Stadium following 5-3 and 10-2 Friday and Saturday victories.

Yet the reeling Razorbacks, 37-18, 13-17 in the SEC, backhanded the 12-team league's eighth and final SEC Tournament seed by default because Auburn and Vanderbilt also lost Sunday.

Alabama beat Auburn 11-9, while Florida beat Vandy 6-3. Auburn and Vanderbilt also closed 13-17 in the league, but Arkansas gets the tiebreaker because the Razorbacks beat SEC overall champ Florida two-of-three, and Auburn and Vanderbilt did not.

Arkansas and Florida meet in Wednesday's 5 p.m. first-round of the double-elimination tournament at Hoover, Ala.Ole Miss and Alabama also are in Arkansas' bracket.

The other bracket, with no cross-bracketing until next Sunday's championship game, includes Tennessee, LSU, South Carolina and Mississippi State.

A bittersweet day, Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn was asked?"I don't think it's bittersweet," Van Horn said. "I'm disappointed we didn't play very well. We had people all over the bases (32 stranded for three games) and scored very few runs. I'm glad we're going to the tournament because we have a chance to redeem ourselves. We don't want to go to the tournament if we don't play better and are feeling sorry for ourselves -- because that's what we saw a little bit of this weekend. We need to play with a different mindset."

The SEC Tourney news was about all Arkansas had going for it on this Lost Weekend, swept before loyal crowds of 9,227, 7,943 and Sunday's 6,783.

"We've played better on the road than at home," Van Horn said. "That's disappointing because I certainly appreciate the support."

Sunday's crowd deserves special accolades. The vast majorityweathered a one-hour, 52-minute rain delay with the Hogs alreadytrailing 5-0 going into the fourth. A goodly portion remained to a bitter end sweetened ever so slightly when left fielder Clint Arnold, five-for-five Sunday, averted a shutout with a ninth-inning RBI-single off reliever Tommy Baumgardner.

It's amazing most didn't leave after the first inning. Because for the second straight game, Arkansas opened getting its leadoff batters to second and third with no outs and failed to bring any home.

Saturday's scene in the first against starter Matt Maloney was Danny Hamblin and Scott Hode striking out and Clay Goodwin flying to center.

In Sunday's first, victorious lefty starter Eric Fowler, 6-2 with a six-hitter for seven innings, retired Hamblin on a short fly to right, struck out Jake Dugger and retired Hode on a fly to center.

"Three games in a row we get runners right there with no outs," Van Horn said, "and nothing happens."Ole Miss played home-run derby off starter Josh Smith in the second.

Game over.

"They score five runs on three swings," Van Horn said, "you are thinking, 'Wow!'"

Ole Miss first baseman-pitcher Stephen Head, who saved Friday's 5-3 game in relief, staved off a Saturday rally with his defense at first, and had multiple hits every game, homered leading of the second. Freshman shortstop Zack Cozart's three-run homer immediately followed a single and a walk. Cozart had barely completed his home run trot before Barry Gunther clouted the inning's third homer.

After the rain delay, Cozart hit another home run, a solo shot off reliever Lee Land.

Arkansas mustered a last stand in the fifth, loading the bases with a walk and two singles before Fowler retired Dugger on a two-out grounder.

Ole Miss scored three off reliever Daryl Maday in the seventh.

Knowing the progress of the Auburn and Vandy games, Van Horn did not bring freshman starter pitcher Nick Schmidt back in relief Sunday after he went four innings Friday.

Schmidt will start Wednesday against Florida with Charley Boyce, three innings of relief and a seven-inning start Saturday, ready to relieve Wednesday and possibly start Thursday's second-round game.

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