James McArthur allowed only one hit over a career-high 8.0 innings, and the offense helped his cause with four home runs as the Ole Miss baseball team downed No. 10 Arkansas 9-1 Thursday night at Baum Stadium. The road Rebels (26-16, 10-9 SEC) belted four two-run home runs, including a pair by senior Colby Bortles, to claim the series opener over the Razorbacks (33-11, 12-7 SEC).
Bortles produced his second career multi-homer game, knocking in four of the Rebels’ nine runs. Designated hitter Tim Rowe started the home run parade with a two-run shot in the second, his third of the season. Rowe finished the night reaching base all four times he stepped up to the plate, tallying a career-high three hits and three RBI. Tate Blackman added a two-run homer of his own, bringing his season total to six.
Continuing to swing a hot bat, Will Golsan increased his hitting streak to seven games and recorded his third straight multi-hit performance. Seven different Rebels tallied hits as Ole Miss finished the night with 11.
McArthur (3-3) faced 27 batters and retired 25 of them, allowing only one walk and a solo home run. He struck out six during his career-long outing, keeping a good Arkansas offense in check through his 8.0 innings of work. Will Ethridge pitched a scoreless ninth to complete the first two-hit game by an Ole Miss pitching staff since 2013.
Blaine Knight (6-3) pitched well for Arkansas, but he made two mistakes that led to four runs. The Razorback starter lasted 7.1 innings and allowed five runs on seven hits, including a pair of two-run shots. Jared Gates broke up McArthur’s no-hit bid in the fifth with a solo home run, and Chad Spanberger added the only other hit for Arkansas. The game was also the fewest amount of hits Arkansas has recorded in 44 games this season.
After McArthur sent down the Razorbacks in order in the first, Nick Fortes started the next frame with an infield single. With a runner on and despite being behind 0-2 in the count, Rowe unleashed a bomb to right field. The ball traveled over the Ole Miss bullpen, and the two-run homer gave the Rebels an early 2-0 advantage.
McArthur cruised through the first four innings, retiring 12 of the first 13 hitters he faced. The sophomore only allowed a two-out walk during that stretch. Starting the bottom of the fifth, a homer by Gates became the only hit surrendered by McArthur. However, another walk is the only other baserunner the Razorbacks got throughout the rest of the night as McArthur helped Ole Miss hang on to the lead, 2-1.
The pitcher’s duel continued through the seventh. While Knight kept the Rebels off the scoreboard aside from the Rowe home run, McArthur threw up zeroes as well. After allowing the Arkansas home run, he retired the Razorbacks in back-to-back innings before the Rebels added three runs in the eighth. Golsan began the inning with an infield single before Bortles crushed a ball that landed on the berm beyond the left field wall. Olenek added to the hit train with a double, forcing Knight out of the contest. After a groundout moved Olenek to third, Rowe knocked him in with his third hit of the night. McArthur returned to the mound in the bottom half of the frame and put together another 1-2-3 inning. Through eight, Ole Miss maintained a comfortable 5-1 lead.
In the ninth, Ole Miss used the long ball to record four insurance runs thanks to its two team captains. Following a one-out walk by Grae Kessinger, Blackman ripped a two-run home run to make it 7-1. Golsan earned his second hit of the night, getting on base ahead of Bortles. For the second time on the night, the senior cleared the bases. This time, he went opposite field for another two-run blast. The homers put the Rebels up 9-1, and Ethridge finished the deal with a scoreless ninth.
The Rebels and Razorbacks will wrap up the three-game series with a doubleheader tomorrow. Due to inclement weather expected all day Saturday in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the two teams agreed to play two games Friday afternoon beginning at 12 p.m. CT. The baseball series will conclude with the final game starting 40 minutes following the conclusion of the Friday’s first game at Baum Stadium. Both games will be broadcast on SECN+ and the Watch ESPN app. As always, you can listen to Rebel Baseball on the Ole Miss IMG Sports Network.
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Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports