FAYETTEVILLE - Dave Van Horn is about accountability. He said the middle of his batting order hasn't accounted for much in the last four games. If Arkansas has a shot to win the series against Vanderbilt in the finale Sunday, that has to change.
"I just got after our guys, the middle of the order, it was non-existent," Van Horn said after the Hogs got only two hits in a 4-1 loss to the Commodores on a cold, wet Saturday afternoon at Baum Stadium.
Arkansas, rated 13th, is 18-5 overall and 2-3 in SEC play. No. 2 Vandy is 21-3 and 3-2.
The Hogs have scored just three runs in the first two games of the series, all of them driven in by catcher James McCann. The junior from Santa Barbara, Calif., had a solo home run in the seventh inning to account for the only run Saturday. He had a two-run infield single for all of the runs in the 2-1 victory by the Hogs on Friday night.
Even with the lack of offense Saturday, the Hogs could have made it interesting but for some shoddy play in the field. Second baseman Bo Bigham, who had only three errors in the first 22 games, had three against Vandy. They contributed heavily to Vandy's three-run rally in the third inning.
"Bo is a good defensive player, but he had a bad day today," Van Horn said. "We kicked it around pretty good in the field and that helped them. Our pitching was probably good enough that we would have been right there at the end with some better fielding."
Arkansas starter Barrett Astin (2-1) gave up five hits in four innings. He allowed three runs, but only one was earned. Brandon Moore gave up four hits and one run in three innings. Colby Suggs shut down Vandy in the last two frames.
The lefty had just six strikeouts, but they hit in the middle of the UA order. Cleanup man Kyle Robinson went down on strikes three straight times. Sam Bates hit for him in the ninth with two men aboard and also struckout. Dominic Ficociello, hitting fifth, didn't do any better. He was hitless in four trips with two strikeouts. Ficociello struckout three times Friday night.
"It's been four straight games," Van Horn said. "The middle of the order didn't hit in the two games against Memphis. We have to get the 3-4-5 guys hitting, although McCann has been okay.
"They have pitched pretty good over there (in the Vandy dugout) and give them credit," Van Horn said. "But I'm disappointed with the way they've taken it to us.
"The lefty today is good. He reminds me of Nick Schmidt. He has that downward tilt with his fast ball. Schmidt used to get a lot of fly balls and that's what we did today. That guy is tough, but we can do better than that. We have to battle better than that. We could scratch for a few runs today and we didn't. Even when the other guy is good, you ought to get five or six runs and we haven't done that the last two games."
Arkansas will send lefty sophomore Randall Fant to the mound Sunday in the series finale.
"We've got guys ready to go for tomorrow," Van Horn said. "Fant will start it off. We've also got DJ Baxendale, too. There are some others ready, too."
Vandy coach Tim Corbin said he was pleased with the victory following a heartbreaking loss Friday night.
"Sonny (Gray) did a great job last night and Grayson followed with another quality start today," Corbin said. "Arkansas is a very dangerous team. We have guys that have played here before and can shut them down. We work off our pitching, which is good. It keeps the game close and we feel good every time we step out there.
"Any time you can beat Arkansas at Arkansas is a very difficult proposition and it's a big thing to do it. They're tough on the bases and when they get the crowd into it, they are tough. We've always had a difficult time playing here. That is a big victory, especially after last night. That was a tough one for us."
First pitch Sunday is at 1:05 p.m.
James McCann connects on a home run.
McCann points to the sky after crossing home plate following his home run.
Barrett Astin pitched the first four innings for the Hogs.
Photos by Marc F. Henning