OXFORD, Miss. (2/23/11) – The Arkansas State baseball team (1-4) battled Ole Miss (5-0) to a 3-3 tie through eight innings, but Rebels' clean-up hitter Matt Snyder brought home the game-winning run with a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth to hand the Red Wolves a 4-3 setback Wednesday night at Oxford-University Stadium.
A-State found itself behind 3-1 after four innings, which included a rain delay in the bottom of the second that lasted just over one hour. However, the Red Wolves scored two runs in the top of the fifth to force a tie that would hold up until the last inning behind the strength of relief pitcher Sam Jew's arm. Jew got the last out in the fourth inning and held the Rebels scoreless over the next four. Jew's night ended with two outs in the eighth, finishing with a career-high seven strikeouts in 4.1 innings of work.
Ole Miss was able to take advantage of a lead-off walk from Tanner Mathis to start its final at-bat, moving him to second base on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a fielders choice before Snyder delivered the deciding hit.
ASU finished the game with eight hits, while Ole Miss posted 10. A-State was led offensively by six players with a hit, including Michael George and Dustin Jones with a team-high two each. George also recorded the Red Wolves' only RBI.
"We hung around and I'm proud of our guys for putting themselves in a position to win," said ASU head coach Tommy Raffo. "We're obviously disappointed with the loss, but we saw some guys come through and step up a little today."
Matt Smith put Ole Miss on the board first, homering to right-center field in the first inning. The Red Wolves tied the game in the top of the second with back-to-back hits by Ryan Emery and George, who doubled to drive home Emery from first base. The Rebels answered right back with a run in the bottom half of the inning and later increased their advantage to 3-1 with a run in the fourth.
Ole Miss recorded six hits over the first four innings to build its two-run lead, but Jew entered the game in relief to secure the final out and allowed just three hits over the next four innings.
While Jew was in control on the mound, the ASU offense produced a couple of hits and took advantage of an Ole Miss throwing error in the fifth inning to score two runs and tie the game at 3-3. Jones and Michael Faulkner led off with back-to-back singles, and Zach Maggio followed with a sacrifice bunt back to Ole Miss starting pitcher Bobby Wahl that he threw past the third baseman, allowing both Jones and Faulkner to score.
A-State recorded two hits in the sixth inning, but left two men on base as it was unable to produce a run. The Red Wolves were retired in order in the seventh and eighth, but Ole Miss couldn't mount much offense either as Jew continued his strong effort on the mound through the bottom of the eighth.
ASU plays 13 of its next 14 games at home, starting with a three-game series this weekend against Evansville. The Red Wolves and Purple Aces will play the first game Friday at 6:00 p.m., while first pitch for both Saturday and Sunday is set for 1:00 p.m.