Hogs fall to Cornhuskers, 6-4

It's a short turnaround for Arkansas after a 6-4 loss to Nebraska on Wednesday. The Hogs play host to No. 2 South Carolina.

Joe Serrano didn't hear the post-game comments from Nebraska coach Darin Erstad. But they were speaking the same language after Arkansas lost a 6-4 college baseball game Wednesday at Baum Stadium.

"We hit a lot of pop flies, today and the last two days," Serrano said. "We have to get on top of the ball for South Carolina."

Serrano was one of the few Razorbacks not guilty of popping out on another day with the wind blowing in at Baum Stadium. He stroked three hits to raise his average to a team best of .326. But he was stranded all three times, including in the first when Tyler Spoon hit into a double play with the bases loaded.

Erstad was applauding his guys for putting the ball in play on the ground or with gap line drives. Told that the wind generally blows in at Baum, he said that it really doesn't matter where you are, fly balls are mostly outs.

"We were fly ball happy yesterday," Erstad said, noting the Cornhuskers had only two hits in a 4-3 loss on Tuesday.

"We are mainly a hybrid line drive-gap team that puts the ball in play on the ground. Fly balls, the last time I checked, don't go anywhere unless you are in Coors Field (in altitude at Denver)."

The Cornhuskers won with balance throughout the lineup. Five different players drove home runs. The sixth was plated on Jackson Lowery's balk, a play when he turned to first for a pickoff throw only to hold the ball. The Cornhuskers broke a 3-3 tie with two runs in the fourth and the balk played a role in both.

"I hadn't seen that one in 25 years," Van Horn said, disappointed with his young pitcher. "I still don't know what happened."

The first inning was disappointing, too, for the veteran coach.

"The first inning, we load the bases and hit into the double play," he said. "That allowed them to stay in the game. We could have gotten out to a lead. That was a win for their dugout at the end of one."

The Hogs (18-11) matched the Cornhuskers (16-13) with 10 hits, but the visitors put six men on with walks, probably the difference.

Van Horn went with young pitching with the SEC series with South Carolina starting Thursday. The No. 2 Gamecocks enter with a gaudy 25-3 record.

"Our hands were tied with our pitching (with the quick turnaround Thursday)," Van Horn said. "It was a disappointing loss. Our guys were into it.

"It was a good job by Nebraska. They came in swinging the bats and we tried to match them. They drove in runs. We didn't."

Van Horn said the Hogs have to "turn that around" against Carolina.

"They have quality guys coming back from last year, some power, some speed and some guys who pitched in the College World Series a couple of years ago," Van Horn said. "They have a solid team. We have to pick it up a notch if we are going to win the series."

Van Horn said the Hogs are in a must-win situation after a 4-5 SEC start.

"It's the biggest weekend of the year," he said. "We've got to win the series. We played well enough to win at Florida. We need to get over the hump. We need to score some runs. We are playing well defense. We have to turn it up a notch."

The Thursday start (for ESPNU at 7:05 p.m.) means Van Horn has to juggle his pitching rotation, especially after last week's Friday game was postponed because of threat of weather that didn't materialize. That would have meant Jalen Beeks would have pitched on really short rest.

"We sat around a hotel and watched basketball (last Friday) and it didn't rain," Van Horn said. "We'll go with Trey Killian tomorrow night since it's closer to his right rest. We've already set the bullpens, so that's how it's going to be."

And, that was in reference to predicted bad weather Thursday night. The Hogs might be facing another doubleheader start to the series, this time on Friday.

"Right now, we'd start Trey in the first game, either night," Van Horn said. "That's how we are setting it up and he knows that."

Van Horn said it's a fun series. Carolina and Arkansas always have competitive weekends.

"We have a lot of respect for their program," Van Horn said. "We think they feel the same way about us. There is not a lot of chit chat when we play and we just get after each other. There have been some battles."

The Hogs won a rare three-game sweep at Columbia last year. Serrano thinks the Gamecocks will remember.

"There is blood in the water," Serrano said. "We swept them and they will be looking to get after us.

"I haven't seen the scouting report yet, but I know they are the No. 2 team in the country and they are coming to our field."

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