FAYETTEVILLE – After first pulverizing then in 10 innings miscue-aided eking by the Texas A&M Aggies in Saturday’s doubleheader sweep, the Arkansas Razorbacks’ comeback in Sunday’s finale fell short of a 3-game SEC West series sweep at Baum Stadium.
Variously down 10-4 and 11-7, Coach Dave Van Horn’s nationally No. 1 30-6 overall SEC West first place 11-4 Razorbacks fell 11-10 Sunday following Saturday’s 13-0 and 2-1 doubleheader sweep of the Aggies.
Coach Rob Childress’ Aggies, 21-17 overall, and snapping a 7-game SEC losing streak, left Fayetteville, 4-11 in the SEC.
Greenbrier’s Cayden Wallace, and Magnolia’s Matt Goodheart, Arkansas hitting heroes throughout the series, were struck out by Aggies lefty reliever Chandler Jozwiak with the bases loaded ending Sunday’s game.
“Just a tough loss because of the way it finished,” Van Horn said Sunday. “We had a chance to tie it or win it late and we just couldn’t get the bat on the ball. The pitcher they brought in is really good. Give him credit.”
Saturday’s second game hard-luck loser pitching the final 3 1-3 innings, Jozwiak had appeared to pitch out of a 10th inning jam getting Wallace to rap into a likely doubleplay with runners at first and second. However with speedster Wallace busting it down the first base line, Coleman rushed throw went errantly awry scoring the winning run.
“They knew how fast Wallace was,” Van Horn said after Saturday’s game. “When he gets underway out of the box he can go.”
Van Horn was all smiles Saturday after Arkansas’ second consecutive SEC Saturday doubleheader because of Friday night rainouts.
On Saturday his pitchers gave him two stellar starts and two games of stellar relief.
In the 13-0 opener, Patrick Wicklander pitched 4 2-3 shutout innings before running out of gas loading the bases up 5-0.
Lefty reliever Caden Monke, Saturday’s first game official winner, retired the last batter leaving them loaded in the fifth and pitched scoreless through the eighth.
Heston Tole threw the scoreless ninth up 13-0.
Arkansas’ 13-hit in Saturdays first game included home runs by Goodheart, 2 for 4 with a RBI, Robert Moore, 2 for 4 and two RBI, and Brady Slavens, 3 for 4 with four RBI and a double.
Wallace went 3 for 4 with a double and two RBI.
Van Horn warned his Hogs between games to expect a low-scoring nail-biter for Game Two.
Arkansas starter Peyton Pallette and reliever Kevin Kopps and A&M starter Bryce Miller and Jozwiak proved Van Horn a prophet.
Miller through six innings struck out 10, paid no scoring price for five walks and allowed but two hits.
One hit, Goodheart’s first-inning home run, staked Arkansas to a 1-0 lead.
Benton’s Pallette preserved it throwing a 3-hit shutout through six complete with seven strikeouts against no walks.
“”Pallette’s start was really good,” Van Horn said. “It was an efficient six innings.”
Kopps, the incomparable 6-0, 1.12 earned run average reliever, took over in the seventh, seeking his fifth save.
He didn’t get it. Kopps hung an 0-2 pitch to Brett Minnich homering to tie it 1-1 leading off the seventh.
Kopps would yield but one more hit while striking out five against two walks through four complete innings.
He was the pitcher of record when Coleman’s errant throw trying to get Wallace scored Moore from second with the game-winner.
“Just a big win for our team and a really good job by our pitching staff all day,” Van Horn said Saturday.
Other than reliever Jaxon Wiggins throwing a scoreless eighth and ninth, Van Horn couldn’t Sunday ditto Saturday’s summation.
Sunday starter Lael Lockhart was lifted without registering a fourth inning out and charged for three runs and five hits.
Relievers Ryan Costeiu, charged with the loss, Zack Morris, Monke and Caleb Bolden couldn’t stop the Aggies from scoring.
Variously they were charged with two, three, two and one runs.
Aggies Will Frizzell and Hunter Coleman each hit two home runs
Two Arkansas errors helped A&M’s cause as did two fifth-inning runs without a hit on two walks and a hit batsman setting the table for a sacrifice fly and RBI infield out.
“The game got away really early from us,” Van Horn said. “We had to go to the bullpen again way too early (the Hogs didn’t any good starts the previous SEC weekend even while winning 2 of 3 at Ole Miss). Didn’t play good defense. Pitched behind in the count all day long,. I think we walked them six times and hit them twice and it seemed like more. But they were just ahead in the count 2-0 and 3-1 a lot and took some really good swings and we didn’t play good. It wasn’t a good day for us.”
Yet they still came back breathing down the Aggies’ necks.
From down 10-4 they first rallied with three in the sixth and from down 11-7 they struck for Zack Gregory’s 3-run home run in the seventh following second baseman Moore solo homering in the fourth and Goodheart, four home runs his last four games, hitting a 3-run home run in the sixth while Wallace went 2 for 6 with a double and two RBI, and Slavens, 3 for 5 with a RBI.
“We did a good job there in the sixth and seventh, scored six runs,” Van Horn said. “We almost did it.”
The Razorbacks host Grambling State in a 6:30 p.m. nonconference game Tuesday night at Baum-Walker then play a cross division SEC series against South Carolina at 6 p.m. (CDT) Thursday, 6 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday in Columbia, S.C.
Van Horn said he’s hoping that sore-armed pitchers Zebulon Vermillion, not used the last two SEC weekends, and Connor Noland, used just five innings in two games this season, have sufficiently recovered for availability.
Photos courtesy of Crant Osborne, CW3, Sports Action