FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Rain in the Fayetteville area made many doubt if Arkansas would start its series with 20th-ranked Long Beach State on Friday afternoon. Once the game started, many wondered if it would ever end.
Jeremy Reed’s two-out triple scored Corry Parrott in the top of the ninth to break an 8-8 tie and lift Long Beach State to a 9-8 win over Arkansas on Friday in a four-hour, 12-minute marathon opener of a three-game series at Baum Stadium.
The 49ers (7-3) overcame leaving 16 runners on base to with their sixth in a row while the Razorbacks (5-4) suffered their third loss in the last four games despite Scott Crossett’s career-high four hits.
Bob Cramer (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth inning to earn the victory. Josh Alliston gave up a leadoff single to Crossett in ninth but worked out of the jam to record his third save of the season. Matt Riethmaier (0-2) was charged with the loss after giving up two hits in 1 2/3 innings of relief.
Long Beach State’s Scott Crosby led off the game with a home run, ending UA starter Cliff Lee’s streak of consecutive scoreless innings at 16. The 49ers scored one more in the first and one in the second for a 3-0 lead before the Razorbacks exploded in the bottom of the third for seven runs on five hits, including Brian Kirby’s two-run double.
After scoring two in the fourth, the 49ers exploited two Razorback errors for three unearned runs in the sixth to take an 8-7 lead. The Hogs tied it again at 8-8 in the bottom of the inning when Jack Welsh reached on an error and scored on Crossett’s two-out double. Crossett led the Hogs at the plate, going 4-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored.
The teams combined for 25 strikeouts – 14 by Razorback hitters and 11 by the 49ers. Long Beach State reliever Jason Berni struck out eight in 4 2/3 innings of relief. The 14 strikeouts by Hog batters were the most since fanning 14 times in a 3-2 win over Wichita State in the 1998 NCAA Midwest Regional.
Arkansas and Long Beach State, ranked 20th by Baseball Weekly, continue the series Saturday at 1 p.m. The Razorbacks will start Wes McCrotty (0-1) on the mound while the 49ers will counter with Matt Paz (3-0). Paz was named Big West Pitcher of the Week on Tuesday and is coming off back-to-back complete-game victories, including a five-hitter in a 3-0 win over Texas Tech on Feb. 19.