OMAHA, Neb. – Ole Miss scored two runs in each of the first three innings, and that proved to ultimately be enough as the Rebels beat Arkansas 13-5 Monday night to move to a perfect 2-0 in the College World Series.
The Rebels (39-22) move on to a game Wednesday night against the winner of an Arkansas-Auburn matchup to be played on Tuesday. Oklahoma, at 2-0, is the only other unbeaten team remaining in the field.
In addition to scoring double-digit runs, it was once again Freshman All-American Hunter Elliott who was a difference-maker for the Rebels. Elliott started and pitched six and a third innings, finishing with only one earned run on six hits with four strikeouts and two walks. He threw 100 pitches.
After Elliott left the game with the Rebels up 10-3, Mason Nichols went an inning and two-thirds and allowed no baserunners, facing five batters. Brandon Johnson closed the game in the final inning and gave up two runs on two hits with two strikeouts. It was his first appearance since the Coral Gables Regional.
Back in the first, the Rebels got two runs as they chased Razorbacks starter Zack Morris before the inning was over. Justin Bench led off with a two-strike single. After Jacob Gonzalez and Tim Elko ground outs moved him to third, Bench scored on a Kevin Graham base hit to right center.
After the bases were loaded, Hayden Dunhurst walked which allowed Graham to score to make it 2-0.
After Arkansas (44-20) got a run in the bottom of the first, Bench, with a one-out double in the second, put Ole Miss in position to add to its lead. Elko strolled to the plate with two outs, and moments later sent a 2-2 pitch out of the park to deep left, 416 feet from home plate. The Rebels led 4-1.
The Razorbacks picked up two runs in the bottom of the second. A rare error on Jacob Gonzalez opened the door as Robert Moore reached. That was followed by a double from Jalen Battles, and the Razorbacks were in business. Peyton Stovall grounded out to get a run home, and Zack Gregory bunted to get another run in. The score was 4-3 with the Rebels still ahead.
In the third, a one-out walk for Dunhurst, his second of the game, was followed by a single to center for Garrett Wood. Calvin Harris doubled into the left field corner to score both runs, but that would be all the Rebels would get that inning. However, once again they had scored two runs, and it was 6-3 heading to the bottom of the third.
In the top of the fourth, after a walk by Cayden Wallace, Elliott threw to first where Elko tagged Wallace out as he tried to get back to the base. It was a clear momentum shift as the Razorbacks were poised to potentially get back in it. But after that, Elliott got a ground out and a strikeout to move on.
In the top of the fifth, the Rebels broke the game wide open with four runs. After Wood walked with one out, Harris launched one over the fence in right field and into the Rebels’ bullpen. Then a Gonzalez single up the middle scored Bench from second. Elko walked and an RBI single by Graham got Gonzalez home from second. It was 10-3 Rebels, and the Razorbacks faced an enormous uphill climb.
In the eighth, after Woods walked and Harris doubled, Bench singled to score both runners. Elko followed that with a fielder’s choice to send Bench home.
The score after the top of the eighth was a remarkable 13-3 advantage for the Rebels. Arkansas tacked on two runs in the ninth, but this one had long been over.
Ole Miss outhit Arkansas 13-8. Bench had four hits in the contest, while Harris had three. Harris with four RBI and Elko with three, as well as two RBI each from Bench and Graham, took care of much of the scoring for the Rebels.
Ole Miss’ Elliott (5-3) got the win. The Razorbacks’ Morris, with six wins on the season, suffered his first loss. He was one of seven pitchers Arkansas used in the game.
The Rebels now await the winner of Tuesday’s matchup between Arkansas and Auburn. Ole Miss will then have two opportunities to win one game to advance to the championship series.
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco, pitcher Hunter Elliott, 3B Justin Bench, and right fielder Calvin Harris all met with the media after the game to discuss the win. Video is courtesy of the NCAA and The College World Series.