HOOVER, Ala. — Before the Missouri baseball team's Southeastern Conference tournament opener against No. 5 seed Mississippi State on Tuesday night, Tigers junior left-hander Rob Zastryzny said he was ready.
"I always what the ball in a situation where it's win or go home," Zastryzny said.
With the No. 12 seed Tigers (18-32) facing the end of their season under the tournament's new single-elimination format, Zastryzny produced an inspiring performance, allowing seven hits and one earned run while striking out seven in nine innings.
However, after those nine innings, and 124 pitches by Zastryzny, Missouri and Mississippi State were stuck in a 1-1 tie.
It didn't end for another eight innings, when the Bulldogs' Mitch Slauter's hit a two-out single off Tigers reliever Jake Walsh to score Kyle Hann in the 17th inning early Wednesday morning, giving Mississippi State the 2-1 victory.
The game lasted more than 4½ hours and ended at 12:25 a.m. The 17 innings matched the Auburn-Arkansas contest in 1994 for the tournament's longest game and was the Missouri program's longest game.
Slauter's RBI ended a streak of 11 scoreless innings. Mississippi State (41-16) left a total of 17 runners on base, while Missouri stranded 10.
Zastryzny wasn't the only pitcher to shine in the game. Tigers junior right-hander Keaton Steele came on in relief and threw seven innings (105 pitches), allowing no earned runs, giving up eight hits and striking out five. Walsh suffered the loss, striking out one of the four batters he faced in the final inning.
A devastating curveball from Bulldogs reliever Jonathan Holder, who came on in the eighth, seemed to give Missouri the most problems, with Holder striking out five Tigers in 2 2/3 innings. All together, Mississippi State used six pitchers in the game.
Bulldogs starter Trevor Fitts threw wild pitches to two consecutive batters in the third inning, enabling Brannon Champagne to advance to third. Champagne then scored on a groundout to give Missouri a 1-0 lead.
The Bulldogs tied the game in the fifth on a two-out single by Hunter Renfroe that drove in Derrick Armstrong. Will Cox (3-1) gave up one hit over the final three innings for the victory.
Champagne, Dillon Everett and Shane Segovia each had two hits for Missouri, which totaled 11 hits in the game. Mississippi State (16 hits) was led by shortstop Adam Frazier, who had three hits in eight trips to the plate.
Mississippi State advances to the double-elimination portion of the bracket where they will play No. 4 seed South Carolina in Wednesday's late game.