By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
HOOVER, Ala. – Nine straight innings of scoreless baseball ended with a whimper when Arkansas’ Brady Anderson touched home on a wild pitch and pushed the Razorbacks passed Ole Miss 2-1 in 10 innings in the second round of the SEC tournament at the Hoover Met on Wednesday morning.
Ole Miss and Arkansas each scored on two-out first-inning hits. After that it was a contest to see who would blink, and it was the Rebels, when freshman left-hander Matt Denny’s pitch in the dirt – his third in four pitches – got past catcher Stuart Turner.
The Rebels (37-21) face Alabama at 9:30 this morning in an elimination game.
“Both pitchers did a tremendous job, and the bullpens did a tremendous job. It just figures the game would end on a wild pitch, the most exciting play in baseball next to the sacrifice fly,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn joked.
Ole Miss starter Sam Smith and Arkansas (36-19) starter Barrett Astin each tied career-longs for innings pitched.
Smith, the Rebels’ regular No. 3 weekend starter, scattered six hits over six innings with one walk and four strikeouts.
Smith had a 1-2 count on Arkansas’ Dominic Ficociello when he hit Ficociello to keep the inning alive for Tyler Spoon to drive in a run for the Razorbacks.
Turner gave Smith a lift in the third when he picked off a runner who strayed off second. Smith took advantage with two fly ball outs to get out of the innings.
In the fifth, he stranded three runners with a swinging strikeout of Ficociello.
making a change
A blister that Smith developed at LSU was bleeding, a factor in Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco’s decision to turn to Aaron Greenwood to start the seventh.
“I was getting pretty tired, but I was still able to throw all my pitches for strikes,” Smith said.
Ole Miss managed just five hits over eight innings against Astin. The Rebels scored when Turner’s right field single brought home Tanner Mathis from third.
Greenwood scattered five hits over 31⁄3 innings. They weren’t all rockets, but in the 10th Brian Anderson’s one-out ground-rule double was. It was followed by a bloop single and an intentional walk, and Bianco sent for Denny.
He won a left-on-left matchup against Jacob Mahan but bounced two pitches to the plate before Mahan on a full count swung and missed at a pitch up in the zone.
The next bouncing pitch ended the game.
“It’s a tough situation, but like I just told him, he’ll be in it again. It’s the kind of situation that will make you grow up. Next time maybe he’ll be one pitch better and get out of it,” Bianco said.