Rick Fires is a reporter and columnist for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Hogs bats quiet as Rebs win two
Ole Miss reliever R.J. Hively struck out the side in the ninth inning, sealing a 1-0 victory for the Rebels on Saturday.
OXFORD, Miss. A day’s wait didn’t slow Ole Miss.
Matt Snyder finished with two home runs and Alex Yarbrough had three doubles as Ole Miss defeated Arkansas 8-2 on Saturday in the completion of a game suspended Friday night by rain at Oxford-University Stadium. The Rebels then continued their momentum by holding the Razorbacks to two hits in a 1-0 victory in Saturday’s regularly scheduled game.
A record crowd of 10,603 watched Ole Miss (27-12, 9-8 SEC) move ahead of Arkansas (27-12, 8-9) into second place in the SEC West behind LSU. Ole Miss’ 24-yearold baseball facility was near capacity after fans came over from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, where the Rebels held their annual spring football game earlier in the day.
Arkansas’ struggles at the plate continued as the Razorbacks managed only 3 runs and 9 hits in 2 games against the Rebels. Dominic Ficociello and Bo Bigham had the only two hits in the second game for Arkansas, and both were erased on double plays.
The Razorbacks ended the day with a whimper as Ole Miss reliever R.J. Hively struck out the side in the ninth inning to earn the save in relief of Mike Myers (4-2).
“There’s nothing like coming in with the game on the line when it’s your stuff against the other man’s stuff,” said Hively, who earned his first save of the season. “Mike Myers did a great job starting the game, and I didn’t want to ruin it for him.”
Ryne Stanek (6-2) took the loss despite holding Ole Miss to 1 run on 5 hits in 6 1/3 innings. Barrett Astin also pitched well in relief after Ole Miss loaded the bases in the seventh.
“It’s disappointing because Stanek pitched really well,” Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said after the Razorbacks’ third one-run loss in their past four SEC games. “We’re really fighting it right now.”
Yarbrough drove in the only run of the second game with a line-drive single that scored Andrew Mistone, who led off the sixth with a single and advanced into scoring position after bunts by Tanner Mathis and Austin Anderson. Yarbrough extended his hitting streak to 17 games after getting four hits in the series opener.
“Stanek is so good,” Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco said. “He’s going to pitch in the big leagues some day, but I thought Myers matched him pitch-for-pitch. The key is that we were able to get a runner in scoring position with our best hitter at the plate.”
Arkansas put two runners on base in the third inning after an error and a single by Bigham, but the Razorbacks failed to score after Tim Carver grounded into a double play. Derrick Bleeker grounded into another double play for Arkansas in the seventh inning after Ficociello had singled and Matt Reynolds reached on a walk.
“We took the same approach after we hit so many balls [Friday] night against a really good pitcher,” Van Horn said. “We had two shots there and hit into double plays. The one that stands out is when it was 0-0 and we had our leadoff guy [Carver] at the plate. Before you know it, we’re back out there playing defense.
“When it doesn’t go well, it doesn’t go well.”
Ole Miss won the suspended game 8-2 while outhitting the Razorbacks 14-7.
Snyder’s second home run came against Randall Fant in the fifth inning Saturday. Before the rain Friday night, he hit a two-run home run against Brandon Moore (3-1), who lasted just 2 1/3 innings in his first SEC start.
Sam Bates and Jimmy Bosco hit home runs for the Razorbacks, who combined for 11 strikeouts against five Ole Miss pitchers. Bates’ home run came in the second inning Friday night.
When the rain came Friday night, Ole Miss held an 6-1 lead against Moore, who allowed six runs and seven hits. Moore was replaced Friday by Fant, who pitched the rest of the way — including five innings Saturday — and held Ole Miss to 2 runs and 7 hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Aaron Greenwood (1-0) earned the victory in relief of Bobby Wahl, who did not return to the mound after Friday’s game was stopped by rain with Arkansas batting in the fourth inning.
Ole Miss opened the scoring after Yarbrough was credited with an infield single off the glove of Bigham, who was starting his first game at third base. Snyder then lofted a home run on a fly ball that hit the top of the center field wall and bounced over.
Yarbrough added a tworun double in the second inning before Zach Kirksey chased Moore with an RBI single in the third.
Arkansas loaded the bases in the seventh inning but did not score against Greenwood and Hawtin Buchanan. Brian Anderson and Jacob Morris had one-out singles against Greenwood before Buchanan took over and struck out Carver for the second out. Ficociello then drew a walk to load the bases, but Buchanan retired Reynolds on a line drive to center field to end the inning.
Arkansas will try to avoid a sweep today behind starter DJ Baxendale, who pitched eight strong innings in a 2-1 loss in his last start against Kentucky.
ARKANSAS AT MISSISSIPPI
WHEN 1:30 p.m. Central WHERE Oxford-University Stadium, Oxford, Miss. TV Cox Sports Television RADIO RSP statewide radio network, which includes KQSM-FM, 92.1 in Fayetteville; KURM-AM, 790, in Bentonville-Rogers; KASR-FM, 92.7, in Conway; KHGG-FM, 103.1, in Fort Smith; KABZFM, 103.7, Little Rock; KELD-FM, 106.5, in El Dorado; and KOMT-FM, 107.5, in Mountain Home. Not all games will be carried by affiliates. Check local listings. INTERNET www.arkansasrazorbacks.com (go to Razorvision link). PITCHING MATCHUP Arkansas: DJ Baxendale (RHP, 6-2, 3.88 ERA). Ole Miss: TBA. Baxendale pitched eight innings in his last start against Kentucky and allowed two runs on six hits. SHORT HOPS Matt Reynolds moved back to third base for Game 2 against Ole Miss after starting three consecutive games at second base. Bo Bigham moved back to second after starting at third in Game 1. ... Arkansas freshman catcher John Clay Reeves made his eighth start of the season in Saturday’s second game. ... Arkansas leads the series with Ole Miss 37-31 after dropping two games to the Rebels on Saturday.
THE WEEK AHEAD
TODAY at Ole Miss, 1:30 p.m. MONDAY off TUESDAY vs. Oral Roberts, 6:35 p.m. WEDNESDAY off THURSDAY off FRIDAY at Florida, 6 p.m. SATURDAY at Florida, 6 p.m.
Sports, Pages 23 on 04/22/2012