OXFORD, Miss. Matt Smith hit a walk-off home run on the first pitch of the 12th inning as Ole Miss notched a 4-3 win over the Virginia baseball team Friday in the first game of the NCAA Oxford Super Regional at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field. The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Cavaliers.<?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>
The second game of the best-of-three series will be played at noon Saturday on ESPN2, and the Rebels will have an opportunity to clinch the series and earn a trip to the College World Series. Should Virginia win, a deciding third game would be played at 3 p.m. Sunday.
The game drew 9,213 fans the fifth-largest crowd in stadium history. It also was Virginia’s longest game in time (4:17) and innings this season.
Smith jumped on a first-pitch fastball from Kevin Arico (So., Flemington, N.J.) in the 12th inning and hit it into the crowd in left-center field. It marked the first point in this NCAA tournament that UVa has trailed.
Danny Hultzen (Fr., Bethesda, Md.) started on the mound for Virginia and worked 5.1 innings, allowing two earned runs, five hits and one walk while striking out five. Tyler Wilson (So., Midlothian, Va.) pitched two innings of relief, and Matt Packer (Jr., Germantown, Tenn.) fired an inning before Arico (2-3) tossed 2.2 innings a career high.
Jake Morgan (4-1) earned the win for Ole Miss with three scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Phillip Irwin started for Ole Miss and tossed seven innings, giving up three earned runs, nine hits and two walks while fanning five.
Jarrett Parker (So., Stafford, Va.) had two hits for the Cavaliers as he tied the school record for hits in a season with 92. He tied Ryan Zimmerman, who had 92 hits in 2005. Phil Gosselin (So., West Chester, Pa.) and Steven Proscia (Fr., Suffern, N.Y.) each had a pair of hits.
After a scoreless first inning in which both teams squandered scoring opportunities, Virginia (46-13-1) notched a second-inning run to start the scoring. Proscia led off with a single up the middle. Two outs later, Franco Valdes (Jr., Miami, Fla.) ripped a double to the right-center gap and Proscia trucked home from first to give UVa the lead.
Ole Miss (44-18) took advantage of a UVa miscue to tie the game in the fourth inning. With one out, Zach Miller hit a high pop up into short right field. All three UVa fielders in the area lost the ball in the high sun and it dropped for a double Ole Miss’ first hit of the afternoon. After Hultzen struck out Jeremy Travis on three pitches, Kevin Mort ripped a single to center to score Miller with Rebels’ first run.
Virginia came right back with a pair of runs in the fifth inning. Valdes led off with a single and moved to second on a Keith Werman (Fr., Vienna, Va.) sacrifice bunt. He scored on a double to left-center by Parker, who came around on a single to right-center by Gosselin. UVa then loaded the bases on a Hultzen single and Dan Grovatt (So., Tabernacle, N.J.) walk, but Irwin rebounded to get Proscia to foul out and Tyler Cannon (Jr., Pigeon Forge, Tenn.) to pop out to end the threat and minimize the damage.
Hultzen escaped a jam in the bottom of the fifth. Brent Basham led off with an infield single to third and moved to second on a Proscia throwing error UVa’s first error in 46 innings dating to May 24 vs. Duke. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runner to third, Hultzen got Logan Power to line out to second and Smith to ground out to short to end the inning.
The Rebels knocked Hultzen from the game in the sixth while scoring once. With one out, Miller singled to center and scored on a double to the left-center wall by Travis.
The Rebels used a ninth-inning rally to knot the score and send the game to extra innings. Evan Button reached on an error to lead off the inning. Basham then was hit by a pitch when attempting to bunt. Packer then forced Jordan Henry to pop up a bunt to Proscia at third for the first out. Arico came on and gave up a game-tying single to Power before striking out Smith and Henson.