FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Brady Toops delivered a two-out, bases loaded double in the bottom of the ninth to score the game winning runs as No. 24 Arkansas beat Ole Miss 7-6 Saturday afternoon in front of 3,574 fans at Baum Stadium.Jeremy Zick (3-6) took the loss after giving up two runs, earned, on two hits without recording an out in the ninth inning. Brae Wright started and lasted six innings. Wright gave up one run, earned, on three hits.
Arkansas improved to 32-13 overall and 12-11 in the Southeastern Conference. The win also snapped Arkansas’ five-game SEC losing streak. Ole Miss fell to 29-20 overall and 13-10 in the SEC.
The game-winning hit was the second of the season for Toops, who hit a two-run game winning home run in the bottom of the 10th against Kansas State on March 10. Toops also hit a two-run game-tying home run in the top of the ninth against Kentucky on March 30.
Scott Roehl (7-2) earned the victory after pitching the ninth inning in relief. Roehl allowed one run, earned, on two hits. Jay Sawatski started and went seven innings, surrendering five runs, four earned, on 13 hits with two strikeouts and no walks. Josh Merryman allowed one walk in one inning of work.
The Razorbacks were poised to break out of their offensive slump in the first inning when they loaded the bases with only one out. Nick Pitts and Haas Pratt each singled and advanced when Ryan Fox walked. But, Jason Pyle and Andrew Wishy each struck out to leave the bases full.
The Rebels took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second when Justin Donovan tripled to left with two outs and scored on a single by Charlie Babineaux.
Ole Miss added to its lead in the third inning. Jonathan Swearingen singled and advanced to second on a single by Chad Sterbens. Stephen Head brought Swearingen home with a single to right for a 2-0 Ole Miss lead.
The Rebels made it a 3-0 game in the top of fourth inning when Seth Smith singled home Matt Tolbert (single) with two outs. Smith’s hit was the 10th in four innings off Sawatski.
After loading the bases with one out in the first inning, Wright settled into a groove and retired the next 12 Arkansas batters before Brett Hagedorn reached on a single deep in the hole at third base in the fifth inning. Hagedorn then advanced from first to third on a wild pitch with one out in the inning.
Scott Bridges brought Hagedorn in with a sacrifice fly that was caught on the run in foul territory that allowed the run to score. The Razorbacks threatened to add more runs to the scoreboard after Scott Hode walked and Pitts was hit by a pitch. But Pratt’s fly ball to right died on the warning track to end the inning.
Ole Miss quickly answered the Arkansas score with three runs in the sixth. Donovan singled and went to second on a single to short by Babineaux. Hode’s throw to second on the play sailed over Bridges’ head and rolled into right field allowing Donovan to score and Babineaux to move to third.
Tolbert then doubled down the third base line to plate Babineaux and push the Ole Miss lead to 5-1.
The Razorbacks narrowed the deficit to 5-2 with a run in the bottom of the seventh. Bridges singled to left with two outs, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by the Ole Miss catcher. Hode then singled to right to score Bridges and make it a three run game.
Playing in a steady rain the Razorbacks mounted a rally in the eighth inning. Pratt reached on an error and moved to third on a single by Pyle. Wishy plated Pratt with a single to right to make it a 5-3 game. With Pyle at third and Wishy at first, Brady Toops bunted for a single to score Pyle and cut the deficit to 5-4.
With one out in the eighth and Wishy at second and Toops at first the game was halted due to lightening. After a 25-minute delay the teams resumed play with Clay Goodwin at the plate. Goodwin hit into a fielder’s choice that forced Wishy out at third. The throw to first bounced and sailed wide allowing Toops to move to third. Bridges then ground out to second to end the inning with the Rebels holding a one run lead.
The Rebels plated an insurance run in the top of the ninth when Brian Pettway doubled to right-center with two outs to score Sterbens (single).
After forcing Hode to fly out to right in the ninth, Anthony Cupps walked Pitts and was pulled for Zick. Pratt laced the first pitch from Zick into right field for a single that put pinch-runner Chris Williams on second. On a 3-2 pitch, Fox hit a double off the wall in left-center to score Williams and move Matt Yost (pinch runner) to third.
Kirk McConnell then pinch-hit for Pyle and was intentionally walked to load the bases for Wishy. Zick was then pulled for Eric Fowler, the third Ole Miss pitcher of the inning. Fowler struck Wishy out on a called third strike to bring Toops to the plate with two outs. Toops then hit the game-winner into the gap in right-center to score Yost and Fox and give the Hogs the victory.
Arkansas and Ole Miss conclude the series with a 1 p.m. game Sunday at Baum Stadium.