Crouse helps Rebels clip Hogs

Published 11:34 am Friday, May 20, 2011

Matt Crouse and Jake Morgan made certain Ole Miss would be a major player in the wild SEC West race.

Crouse allowed one run in 61⁄3 innings, and Morgan went the rest of the way to earn his sixth save as Ole Miss beat Arkansas 2-1 on Thursday night.

An RBI single by Matt Snyder and a sacrifice fly by Matt Tracy in the seventh inning proved to be the difference as Ole Miss (30-23, 13-15 Southeastern Conference) joined a four-way tie for second place in the Western Division. One of those teams is Arkansas (34-18, 13-15), and the last two games of this series will likely determine which one advances to next week’s SEC Tournament.

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Four of the six teams in the Western Division will clinch spots in the eight-team tournament before the weekend is finished. Alabama took a one-game lead after beating South Carolina on Thursday night and LSU is still a game behind the four teams deadlocked in second place.

The series got off to a rousing start, with a pitchers’ duel between Crouse and Arkansas’ D.J. Baxendale.

Baxendale (8-2) finished with eight strikeouts and pitched into the ninth, but gave up the two runs in the seventh inning and was saddled with the loss.

Crouse (7-4) gave up a solo homer to Collin Kuhn in the sixth inning that put Arkanas ahead 1-0, but still earned the win thanks to the two runs in the seventh and some nifty relief work by Morgan.

Crouse surrendered a walk and a single with one out in the seventh to put runners at first and third, then gave way to Morgan. The right-hander loaded the bases with a walk, then escaped the jam with a double play ball. Morgan then retired five of the last six batters he faced to finish the game.

“Both pitching staffs were great tonight, especially both starters,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “They matched each other pitch for pitch.”