Key takeaways, box score from Arkansas Razorbacks' 6-3 walk-off Game 2 win over Ole Miss Rebels
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Key takeaways, box score from Arkansas' Game 2 win over Ole Miss

Braydon Webb hit one of Arkansas' three home runs Saturday night.
Braydon Webb hit one of Arkansas' three home runs Saturday night. (Arkansas Athletics)

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FAYETTEVILLE — With two hard swings earlier in the game and nothing to show for it, Kendall Diggs didn’t leave things to chance in his final at bat Saturday night.

The freshman crushed a fastball off the Hunt Center beyond the right field wall for a three-run walk-off home run that gave Arkansas a 6-3 win over Ole Miss at Baum-Walker Stadium.

It was the Razorbacks’ second walk-off home run of the season, as a Chris Lanzilli long ball beat Illinois-Chicago back on March 13, but more importantly, it evened their series with the Rebels.

“We needed to win, big time,” head coach Dave Van Horn said. “That was a huge win for us tonight, just to win, just to feel good about it. The way we won probably made it even better.”

After playing with fire in the top half of each of the previous three innings, Arkansas entered the bottom of the ninth needing just one run to end the game with the score tied 3-3.

Jalen Battles popped out to start the inning, but Jace Bohrofen followed with a sharp grounder that shortstop Jacob Gonzalez couldn’t handle. It was ruled a single and then Braydon Webb worked a full-count walk to move the game-winning run into scoring position.

Despite the fact that Arkansas was just 1 for 19 with runners in scoring position and 5 for 37 with any runners on base since the midweek win over UCA, the way those plate appearances played out gave Van Horn confidence his team was about to end it.

“We were just due for a big swing,” Van Horn said. “We’ve been battling it a little, driving in some people. The two at bats before the home run were really good. … You’re kind of thinking, wow, those were pretty good at bats, something good is going to happen.”

That brought up Diggs, who — despite being 0 for 3 — had swung the bat well all night as the Razorbacks’ designated hitter. Two of his three outs had an exit velocity over 100 mph, but were right at people.

However, facing Ole Miss reliever Jack Doughty a second time, the Kansas native quickly found himself in a 1-2 hole after failing to check his swing.

“(I) got two strikes, stepped out, took a deep breath,” Diggs said. “Obviously, there's a lot going on, it's a big stage, but just trying to tell myself positive things. Telling yourself negative things like, ‘Don’t strike out,’ that kind of thing is never going to end well.

So there's no reason not to tell yourself, ‘I can do this.’ And I told myself I wasn't gonna strike out there, I wasn't gonna get out. I was gonna do everything I could.”

Diggs eventually took a ball, fouled off a 2-2 pitch and took another ball to work the count full.

“When he kind of waved on that ball in the dirt to make it a 1-2 count, they thought, ‘Oh, we’re going to go back to that pitch again and we’re going to get him,’ and he didn’t bite on it,” Van Horn said. “All of a sudden you’ve got a 3-2 count and they had to make a decision.

“He’s seen two breaking balls in a row and they’re going to try to slip a fastball by him. You saw what happened. It was just a really, really good swing.”

The result was a 389-foot blast that left the bat with an exit velocity of 102 mph and launch angle of 23.4 degrees.

Diggs said it was the first walk-off home run of his career at any level. It was also the Razorbacks’ first walk-off home run against an SEC opponent since James McCann’s famous three-run home run to beat LSU 4-3 on April 9, 2011.

“It was surreal. It was a dream,” Diggs said. “It's crazy. You know, I can't even really fathom it. I'm just blessed (to) even have the opportunity to be in that situation.

Here are a few other key takeaways from the Game 2 victory…

Lineup Changes

With his team scuffling at the plate, Van Horn has tinkered with his lineup throughout the season and hasn’t really settled on any particular order or even a definite starting nine.

Following a disappointing 4-2 loss to Ole Miss in the series opener Friday night, he was sitting in the locker room with his coaching staff trying to figure out the best lineup to jumpstart the offense when he made a declaration.

“(We were) going to make a couple of changes and I said, ‘I’m going to DH Kendall Diggs tomorrow,’” Van Horn said. “And then I went in my office and hung out there for a little while and I wrote up a lineup before I went home and that was the lineup I went with because I didn’t come in until after noon. I needed to get away for just a little while. Sometimes you just gotta clear your head a little bit.”

Considering the Rebels were starting left-hander Hunter Elliott, it wasn’t particularly surprising to see Zack Gregory come out of the lineup. Despite his incredible on-base percentage, he has struggled mightily against lefties, going just 2 for 18 (.111).

The splits were similar for Peyton Stovall, as the freshman was just 4 for 33 (.121) against left-handers entering the game. So Van Horn removed both of the mainstays and instead had Bohrofen and Lanzilli as his corner outfielders and Brady Slavens as his first baseman.

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