Arkansas Baseball steals finale from Ole Miss, takes series
FAYETTEVILLE, AR (arkansasrazorbacks.com)– The University of Arkansas baseball team (14-13, 3-6) used a three-run fifth inning to rally past Ole Miss (14-14, 4-5) 5-2 and capture the series from the Rebels Saturday afternoon at Baum Stadium.
Bobby Wernes had the play of the day as he stole home with two outs in the fifth inning to tie the game as part of a three-run inning to give Arkansas a lead it would never relinquish.
After Wernes swiped home, Joe Serrano ripped a single up the middle on the next pitch to plate Michael Bernal and give the Razorbacks a 3-2 advantage.
Arkansas manufactured a run in the sixth inning with a bases loaded walk by Bernal, before Tyler Spoon added some insurance in the eighth inning with a solo home run to left field for his third long ball of the season to seal the 5-2 victory.
Jackson Lowery (2-0) came on in relief and earned the win in 3.0 innings of work and added a career-high tying five strikeouts. Zach Jackson picked up his second save of the year after tossing the final 2.1 innings and giving up just one run, while striking out three. Jackson has recorded strikeouts on nine of the last 14 outs he has recorded dating back to his six-strikeout performance in the series opener.
Keaton McKinney got the start and did his job, lasting 3.0 innings and giving up just one hit and one unearned run, while adding four strikeouts before giving way to Lowery.
To go along with his steal of home, Wernes added his fourth consecutive multi-hit game and reached base three times in the game. Chad Spanberger went 1-for-2 at the plate and drove in the first run of the game to get Arkansas on the board.
Arkansas returns to action Tuesday afternoon, welcoming Missouri State to town for a single game at Baum Stadium. First pitch is set 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network Plus and the WatchESPN app.
Arkansas Head Coach Dave Van Horn opening statement: “I'm just really proud of the team. This whole week has been a big time grind for us. There's a lot of kids out on spring break and we're traveling around playing baseball. That's why they came here. We reminded them of that a couple of times. Man they played hard every day this week and today it wasn't looking great. When you look at the pitching we had used all week and we can't even name a starter last night. We decided we would script it out a little bit. The only thing we did differently was we gave McKinney one more inning than we thought and we gave Lowery one more inning.”
Van Horn on Bobby Wernes stealing home: “It was great. We tied it up and the first pitch Joe Serrano singles up the middle - we got the lead. I told our team that's better than a three-run homer because with a three-run homer you know what hit you. They didn't know what hit them.”
Van Horn on clinching the series: “It was a big confidence booster. It was almost a must situation for us today. We tried not to lay that on the players and put pressure on them, but behind closed doors in the coaches' office we knew we needed a win. It wasn't like we had to win or it's over, but we needed a win in the worst way. We needed to win a series at home.”
Sophomore RHP Zach Jackson on his performance: “I definitely felt good with my curve ball. Fastball wise I didn't have quite the command that I needed to, but luckily I was able to get out of jams and pitch how I needed to to get them out. Definitely good feeling to help my team out.”
Junior third baseman Bobby Wernes on how he stole home: “It started off with Chad (Spanberger). He came off the bench in a huge spot and gave us a great at bat, competed for us - a little dribbler to third. It kind of trickled off (Colby) Bortles' glove. We got run in there. They threw it back to the pitcher and he kind of dropped his head and walked pretty far back past the mound. I saw the catcher's head was down too, so I asked Coach Vitello if time had been called and he said no. I rolled the dice and went and luckily it paid off.”
Arkansas improves to 9-1 on the year when holding opponents to two runs or less and 13-1 when leading after six innings.
The pitching staff has recorded double-digit strikeouts in 10 games this year after striking out Ole Miss 35 times in the three-game series.
The Razorbacks rank second in the SEC with 25 home runs in 27 games played after Tyler Spoon's solo shot in the eighth inning.
Bobby Wernes has posted four straight multi-hit games and is currently riding a career-long tying seven-game hitting streak.
Jackson Lowery tallied a career-high tying five strikeouts and recorded his second win of the year.
Zach Jackson sealed his second save of the year and fourth of his career as he has recorded strikeouts in nine of the last 14 outs he has recorded.