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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Hogs left with an uphill climb in Omaha

by Wally Hall | June 21, 2022 at 3:28 a.m.

It's hard to believe after Monday night's performance, but Ole Miss was almost down and out to begin May.

The Rebels had looked good until they got swept by Tennessee at the end of March and by Alabama the second weekend in April, and when Arkansas thumped them twice on April 30 and May 1, the Rebels were 24-19 on the season, including 7-14 in the tough SEC.

Not even the zaniest of fans was talking about the College World Series.

The Grove was a clump of beautiful old trees and The Square was for locals, not tourists.

Maybe head coach Mike Bianco pulled some magic out of his pocket, or like Dave Van Horn when the Hogs slumped, he just got the Rebels to believe in themselves again.

They turned a corner and are 15-3 since leaving Fayetteville, including 7-0 in the NCAA Tournament.

Monday night's convincing 13-5 victory over Arkansas was Ole Miss continuing to peak at the right time.

Whatever went wrong for the Rebels two months or so ago is like pay telephones, barely remembered.

Monday night, the Rebels jumped on Arkansas starter Zach Morris who opened with two consecutive strikes and 23 pitches later, after walking in a run, the Razorbacks were down 2-0 and he was on his way to the dugout.

It was just one of those nights all pitchers experience.

A night all teams experience.

In fact, Van Horn went through seven pitchers against the Rebels. Only Elijah Trest made it longer than two innings as he struck out three hitters and walked three more in 2 1/3 innings of relief. In all, Arkansas pitchers allowed 13 hits and walked 10.

Remember just a few weeks ago most were ready to just mail the championship trophy to Tennessee.

Ole Miss didn't let up, a two-run double down in left field scored two in the third inning and the Rebs added four in the fifth. They got three more in the eighth, and the lights were on but the party was over, even though the Hogs got two in the bottom of the ninth.

It was obvious from the start that the Razorbacks were going to have to out hit Ole Miss to have a chance.

Arkansas made Charles Schwab Field look like Baum Stadium North against Stanford, getting 21 hits and outscoring the No. 2 seeded Cardinal 17-2.

Nervous fans made jokes about the Hogs needing new bats because they had used all the hits in the ones they had.

It wasn't that bad, but earlier in the day Stanford learned, "It Just Means More," the hard way when they were eliminated from the College World Series 6-2 by Auburn.

Texas was the first team out, and now of the six remaining four are from the SEC, which really is more than a football conference.

The Longhorns' departure came at the hands of arch-rival Texas A&M, which lost its opener to Oklahoma.

Texas and Oklahoma are scheduled to join the SEC in 2025, but insiders say it may be as soon as next year when their old conference, the Big 12, adds four schools.

OU has advanced to the semifinals of its bracket and will play the winner of the Notre Dame-A&M game Wednesday.

The Razorbacks will face Auburn today which they beat two out of three during the regular season.

Having to turn around and play again is hard.

There are questions about pitchers and a fatigue factor that comes from playing three games in three days.

That's the way to the championship for the Razorbacks, win three in a row, including beating Ole Miss twice.

After Monday night, the Rebels are looking very tough. As are the Sooners who are 2-0 in the other bracket.

The Razorbacks can definitely go on a run, but they'll have to make Monday night a distant memory in a hurry.

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