Joe Serrano led off the Razorbacks’ half of the ninth with a single to left and tried to stretch it into a double, but Preston Overbey took the relay throw and applied the tag as Serrano attempted to slide to the outside of the bag. But second-base umpire Scott Erby called Serrano safe, and Brian Anderson eventually drove him in with a sac fly to give Arkansas an 8-7 victory over the 10th-ranked Rebels at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
TV replays showed Overbey put the tag down before Serrano got to the base. Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said afterward that the league’s coaches voted unanimously in November to implement video replay at the tournament on an experimental basis, but only home runs, fair-foul calls and fan interference are reviewable. Coaches can’t challenge plays either.
Bianco said he’s not sure what the right answer is when it comes to expanding replay.
“In my opinion, and for what little I’ve seen of it in Major League Baseball, (video replay) has worked very well,” Bianco said. “I don’t know if we can do that on the college level. If we can make it work like that, I think it would be terrific. I saw a little show on ESPN where they have the headquarters on all the TVs and all of that. I don’t know how to make that work in the SEC, let alone in some smaller league.
“Certainly maybe by the time you get to the College World Series, I think people want the calls right. But they want the pace of the game, and they don’t want it to be slowed down. But at the end of the day, if the guy’s out the guy’s. If the guy’s safe, the guy’s safe. It’s just can you keep the game going.”
Though the controversial call loomed large, it came four innings after Ole Miss (41-18) squandered a 6-0 lead. Arkansas (38-22) used two hits, two talks and an error to plate its first three runs in the fourth against Rebel starter Sam Smith and ended the right-hander’s day with three straight hits to start the fifth, the last coming on K.J. Wilkerson’s RBI double to straightaway center to cut the deficit to 6-4.
Anderson drove in another run on a groundout against Preston Tarkington before Eric Fisher capped the rally with an RBI single to draw Arkansas even. Smith gave up four earned runs for the fourth time in his last fifth starts after yielding no more than three in his first 10. He struck out two and walked two in four innings of work.
“The first three innings, I did what I do and kept the ball down well and made pitches,” Smith said. “Then I kind of got out of my routine a little bit and tried to force some pitches, overthrew a little bit and left the ball up. They just squared a few up.”
Tarkington halted Arkansas’ momentum with three innings of one-hit ball, and the Rebels reclaimed the lead on Sikes Orvis’ RBI groundout in the seventh. But Arkansas answered with Josh Alberius’ RBI single in the eighth against lefty Wyatt Short (3-3), who gave up a pair of runs on three hits in two innings in the loss.
Michael Gunn (4-2) got the win with 1.2 innings of scoreless relief while Jacob Stone worked the ninth for the save, handing Ole Miss its first loss this season when scoring at least seven runs. Ole Miss scored its first three runs in the first, got two more in the second and added another in the third before Arkansas began its rally.
“I don’t think we gave it away, but at the end of the day, you play nine innings and you’ve got to play hard for all nine innings,” catcher Will Allen said. “I don’t know if we didn’t do that, but unfortunately they came back and won.”
Austin Anderson went 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI. Allen, Braxton Lee, Will Jamison and Auston Bousfield had two hits apiece. Allen and Orvis each drove in two runs. (May 23, 2014)