After a near flawless pitching effort for the majority of Tuesday's game, Arkansas had to overcome shaky relief to close out Grambling State at Baum Stadium.
The Razorbacks gave up only one hit through the first seven innings, but allowed six base runners over the final two innings in a 4-3 win over the Tigers. Edwin Drexler lined out to Arkansas first baseman Eric Fisher to end the game with the tying run standing on third base.
"We cruised along for the first seven innings but you could kind of see it turning," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "We had some young players out there. Hopefully they learned from the experience.
"(Grambling) is a Division-1 team and they have played some good competition. They're kind of like us, they've lost some close games - just like tonight, a one-run game. I felt they didn't feel they were out of the game."
Arkansas (10-7) had pitched an almost perfect game until reliever Chris Falwell ran into trouble with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Razorbacks recorded 22 consecutive outs without allowing a hit or issuing a walk to that point.
That ended when Falwell gave up a bloop single to Dion Holbrook in the top of the eighth and walked Drexler in the next at-bat. Holbrook scored on a Kris Minter RBI single to chase the freshman reliever and Drexler scored on a double steal.
The Tigers stranded runners at third base in each the eighth and ninth innings. Landon Simpson left the game with one out in the ninth and Zach Jackson recorded the final two outs to earn the save for the Razorbacks.
The near collapse overshadowed a solid pitching performance from Colin Poche, who continues to round into form after elbow soreness limited him early in Arkansas' season. The left-hander pitched four scoreless innings and retired 11 straight batters after committing a throwing error and allowing a single in consecutive first inning at-bats.
Poche struck out three batters and threw 44 pitches on a pitch count to earn the win.
"I definitely settled down a little (after the error)," Poche said. "I babied that throw a little….After that I settled down and started getting my fastball over the plate."
James Teague retired all six batters he faced in the fifth and sixth innings, and Falwell worked around a fielding error to leadoff the seventh inning by retiring three straight batters.
Arkansas won despite stranding 11 base runners, including seven in scoring position. The Razorbacks recorded eight hits against the Tigers (3-16).
"What was frustrating was stranding 11 runners on base," Van Horn said. "We got people on but didn't do a very good job scoring runs."
After stranding a runner in scoring position the first two innings, Arkansas had its only breakthrough on offense in the bottom of the third. The Razorbacks sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning to take a 4-0 lead.
Clark Eagan singled to start the inning and scored on a single by Fisher. Bobby Wernes had a two-out single to score two runs later in the inning and Arkansas plated another run when Michael Bernal was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Eagan flied out to left field to end the inning, stranding the bases loaded. Arkansas also stranded runners at third base in the fourth and seventh innings.
"When we didn't punch in some more runs after we scored four in the third, you could kind of see it coming a little bit," Van Horn said. "That was the disappointing part for us coaches was that we didn't put the game away."
The two teams will play again Wednesday at 3:05 p.m.
Arkansas 4, Grambling 3
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