FAYETTEVILLE — Ole Miss pitcher Bobby Wahl was as good as advertised for most of Friday’s Southeastern Conference opener against Arkansas.
And Wahl had plenty of help from the Rebels’ bats in a 7-1 victory.
No. 6 Ole Miss pounded out 10 hits and the 15th-ranked Razorbacks did not record a hit over the final seven innings before a crowd of 7,135 at Baum Stadium. Ole Miss (18-1) won its 12th consecutive game and the Razorbacks (13-6, 0-1) saw a six-game win streak snapped.
Wahl, a preseason All-American, allowed one run on three hits in seven innings. He issued five walks, but struck out five and did not allow a hit after the second inning.
“He was good tonight,” Razorback right fielder Tyler Spoon said of Wahl, who improved to 5-0. “We didn’t get a hit after the second inning. That explains it.”
Friday was billed as a matchup of two of the SEC’s top pitchers — Wahl and Razorbacks freshman Trey Killian. Instead, Killian struggled early and seemed to lose confidence after several close calls at the plate didn’t go his way.
Ole Miss roughed up Killian for seven runs and five hits. Killian surrendered a two-out grand slam in the second inning to Preston Overbey, who was batting ninth for the Rebels.
Trouble began for Killian when he allowed consecutive singles to Andrew Mistone and Will Allen. Killian walked Will Jamison and then gave up the game-changing home run to Overbey on a 2-1 pitch.
Overbey’s grand slam gave the Rebels a 4-1 lead.
“We were in big trouble down 4-1 to Bobby Wahl,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said.
It got worse in the fourth when the Rebels added three runs. First baseman Sikes Orvis added a solo home run in the fourth inning. It was the first home run of the season for Orvis and came on the 10th pitch of the at-bat. Ole Miss added two more runs in the inning.
Arkansas coaches and players were optimistic about his chances in his first start. Killian entered the game 2-1 with 0.86 earned run average and had been a bright spot. But Ole Miss didn’t give Killian much of a welcome to the SEC.
“Trey got frustrated,” Van Horn said. “You could just tell by looking at him that he was stressed. Hopefully after tonight he’ll continue to get better and learn from that.”
Landon Simpson pitched well in relief of Killian. Simpson struck out four in five innings of work. He gave up five hits, but no runs to the Rebels, who did all their damage against Killian.
Offensively the Razorbacks did little to help the team’s pitchers.
Arkansas was hoping a midweek series against Alabama A&M would help kick-start an offense that had struggled. Against A&M the Razorbacks won by a combined 33-2 and in Wednesday’s 20-2 victory, they had a season-high 19 hits.
Early on it looked like Arkansas might be able to figure out Wahl. Arkansas jumped up to a 1-0 lead on a pair of first-inning hits. Jacob Mahan led off with a double, advanced on a Dominic Ficociello groundout and then scored when Spoon singled to center field.
In the second the Razorbacks loaded the bases, but Ficociello flew out to center and that was as good as things got offensively. Arkansas stranded seven runners against the Rebels.
“It looked pretty good there for an inning,” Van Horn said. “We got off to a good start.”
Arkansas sends Randall Fant (0-0, 0.90) to the mound for today’s 2:05 p.m. game against the Rebels. Ole Miss is scheduled to start Mike Meyers (2-0, 1.52).