By Adam Brown
The No. 12 Ole Miss Rebels evened the series against the No. 5 Arkansas Razorbacks this afternoon with a 13-5 victory. The Rebels forced a winner-takes-all game three on Monday that books a ticket to the mecca of college baseball in Omaha.
Ole Miss’ (41-26) offensive power showed up early in the second game of the super regionals as Cole Zabowski, Cooper Johnson, Tyler Keenan and Grae Kessinger all bombed home runs.
Arkansas (45-18) jumped out to an early lead on the Rebels’ starter Doug Nikhazy, scoring two runs in the top of the first off the bat of Dominic Fletcher.
The Rebels quickly answered with three runs in the home half of the frame on a three-run bomb by Zabowski. Zabowski ended the afternoon going 3-for-4 at the dish with three RBIs.
In the second, Ole Miss got a leadoff home run by Johnson. Keenan capped the inning off with a three-run triple to center field. He came home on an RBI fielder’s choice by Ryan Olenek.
Arkansas’ starter Connor Noland surrendered four runs on three hits in a short outing of an inning plus of work.
The Razorbacks then called on the arm of sophomore right-hander Kole Ramage who had four runs cross the dish on three hits in 2.2 outing on the hill. Ramage walked six batters.
The Ole Miss southpaw reset the freshman strikeout record in the third inning that was previously set at 81 in a season when he sat down Heston Kjerstad. Nikhazy worked five complete innings and only allowed five runs on 10 hits. He fanned eight Arkansas batters and put a new benchmark on the number of strikeouts at 86 and counting for a freshman hurler.
The Razorbacks started to climb back into the game in the fourth as they got three doubles started by Trevor Ezell who delivered a double to left center. The Razorbacks’ third run came as Casey Martin drove in Ezell with a double down the line. Matt Goodheart then laced a ground rule double to right in the two-out rally.
Junior Houston Roth entered the game for the Rebels in the sixth. The Oxford native delivered four stellar innings and only allowed two base hits and retired three batters to pick up the save.
Ole Miss responded in the sixth and got the three runs back from the fourth on a home run and a two-RBI single by Anthony Servideo.
The final two runs in the contest came in the seventh as Kessinger smashed the final home run of the game.
Ole Miss and Arkansas will take to the diamond on Monday in a winner-takes-all championship game. As of right now, first pitch is set for 3 p.m.