They say the phrase "Game Seven" is the greatest two words in sports. These contests are where legends are made. In college baseball there isn’t a game seven, but there is a game three. In college baseball game three has the same meaning as game seven--win or go home. That’s exactly what the Razorbacks (45-18) and Rebels (40-26) are facing Monday in their super regional. Not only does the winner-take-all and head to the College World Series, but the winner will be a favorite to play for a national championship.
Offense has dominated the series between the two schools during the super regionals. Arkansas opened the series bashing the ball early and often. After Ole Miss hit a first inning home run in game one the Razorbacks answered with four runs of their own in the first inning and the rout was on. Isaiah Campbell gave up two solo home runs to the Rebels, but pitched 8.1 innings striking out seven and giving up only the two earned runs by Ole Miss. He dominated!
In game two the roles were reversed. Ole Miss jumped on Arkansas to the tune of eight runs in the first two innings. The Rebs hit two of their four home runs on the game in those two innings. Frankly, the Hogs never really threatened Ole Miss after that.
The common thought among Razorback fans is that Ole Miss “has Arkansas’ number.” The truth is that Arkansas and Ole Miss are about as evenly matched teams as they come.
The two teams have played seven time this season; the Rebels taking four and Arkansas taking three. Of the seven contests, four of them have been decided by two runs or less. This is just a small look into how closely the two teams are matched. Batting Average: Arkansas .299 Ole Miss .284, ERA: Arkansas 3.84 Ole Miss 4.23, Runs Scored: Ole Miss 459 Arkansas 457, hits: Arkansas 431 Ole Miss 423, RBI: Arkansas 425 Ole Miss 403.
Monday, Ole Miss will start freshman Gunnar Hogland. Hogland was drafted in the first round of the MLB draft last season but chose to go to college instead of taking the money. Hogland has put up some decent numbers, but did not overpower. The right-handed Hogland has a 4.64 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 66.0 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting .275 against him.
Meanwhile, Arkansas will start a freshman lefty Patrick Wicklander who threw 65.0 innings with 88 strikeouts with an opponents batting average of .207. On paper, Razorbacks seem to have an advantage in the pitcher’s duel between the two starters. Obviously, the game isn’t played on paper and anything could happen.
Arkansas went to game three of the super regional at Baum-Walker Stadium in 2015 and 2018 where they pulled out victories versus Missouri State and South Carolina. Admittedly, those two matchups did not have the feel of this one. Frankly, there is a bit of trepidation among Razorback fans going into the matchup versus Ole Miss—rightfully so.
In a season that most did not expect Arkansas to be a contender they have proven to be just that. The next step is Omaha. Ole Miss and their cute home run celebration stands in the way of the Razorbacks taking another shot at a national title. Who will become the next Razorback legend?