Arkansas' weekend pitchers dominated the No. 1 team in the country last weekend, but that was not the case with its mid-week guys against another ranked foe.
No. 17 UNLV took advantage of 10 hits, 2 errors, 7 walks, a balk and even a run-scoring catcher's interference to down the No. 24 Arkansas 10-7 Tuesday night before 1,853 fans at Baum Stadium.
The Razorbacks (20-13) – newly appointed to the poll after taking two of three from South Carolina - had seven hits in the first of two games against the Runnin' Rebels (23-9).
"You have got to show up every day and you have got to put out a good effort and be ready to play mentally," Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. "It just didn't feel that way to me tonight. I may be wrong, but it just didn't seem that way."
Michael Bernal and Brian Anderson both homered – ending a 15-game streak without an Arkansas blast leaving the park – but the Razorbacks just couldn't hold the Rebels down.
"Somehow we manage to hang in there and actually made a game of it late, but it just wasn't a very pretty game at all," Van Horn said. "Sometimes it goes that way, but we threw a lot of pitches, pitched behind in the count a lot and it made it difficult."
UNLV jumped on Arkansas starter Colin Poche for a pair of runs in the top of the second when Dylan Ellis lofted a sacrifice fly and Joey Armstrong doubled in a run.
"We got off to a bad start," Van Horn said. "They hit a lot of balls hard and got a couple of big hits with two outs in the first couple of innings. Jumped on us. We held them in the first and the second and third it just seemed like they had runners all over the bases. We were kind of living on the edge."
That didn't last long as Bernal launched a three-run shot over the left field fence off winning pitcher Kenny Oakley (3-2) to put the Razorbacks up 3-2 in the bottom of the inning.
Bernal's homer was one of two hits he had on the day while Joe Serrano, who now has a team-leading 11 multi-hit games this season, also added two of Arkansas' seven hits
"Anytime I guess stuff like that happens for our offense, it's big," noted Bernal. "We were behind right there and that gave us a little bit of momentum. You could tell the dugout got up, but the bats before were the ones that got it started off."
Morgan Stotts' sacrifice fly tied in the top of the third, but Blake Baxedale's grounder was booted in the bottom of the frame and that allowed Anderson to score and push Arkansas ahead 4-3.
The Runnin' Rebels grabbed a 6-4 lead when T.J White doubled in a pair of unearned runs in the fourth and then Edgar Montes smashed a towering home run to left in the fifth.
White's RBI single in the sixth plated one of four UNLV runs to push its lead to 10-4 with the other three coming via a pair of bases-loaded walks and a catcher's interference which injured Baxendale and forced him to leave the game.
"I don't know yet," Van Horn said when asked about the extent of Baxendale's injury. "He got hit in the hand with a bat. Other than that I can't tell you. It didn't look real good."
Tyler Spoon kept it there when he dove and made a play in deep center that would have scored at least three more in the sixth.
"He made a great catch in left center," Van Horn said. "That catch is about as good as it gets going with your back to the field. He's pretty fearless out there; he didn't even flinch. The fence was getting on him pretty quick and he just ran to the ball and made a great play."
Arkansas cut it to 10-6 in the seventh when Anderson's bases-loaded walk plated a run and Eric Fisher drove home another with a deep sacrifice fly to center.
The Razorbacks literally knocked Oakley out of the game although he did stay in and face a couple of batters in the seventh after taking a line shot to the groin.
The Razorbacks had the tying run at the plate in the form of Jake Wise – who did not start because he had the flu but came on when Baxendale exited – against reliever Matt Thomas, but Wise popped out behind second to strand a trio.
"He (Wise) was sick as a dog and I told him after the game that I appreciated him stepping up and playing right there," Van Horn said. "I don't know if he has food poisoning or what, but he has been sick since Saturday after the ballgame and hasn't done anything since. He's had a problem eating. I think he will come out of it and be better tomorrow, but we were doing everything we could to give him tonight off."
Arkansas continues to try to redshirt freshman Alex Gosser.
"Trying to redshirt Gosser," Van Horn said, "but kind of the agreement I had with him was that if Jake gets hurt, we'll play him because he throws pretty good. I don't know what the situation is right now. I don't want to have to use him, but if I have to I will."
Anderson extended his hitting string to nine games with his ninth-inning homer to center. He also walked three times.
Poche last just a pair of innings was followed to the mound by Landon Simpson (0-1), James Teague and Jackson Lowery, who pitched the last 3 2/3 innings.
As sharp as Arkansas' weekend guys have been, the midweek pitchers have been very inconsistent, per Van Horn.
"It's been a little up and down come Tuesday and Wednesday," Van Horn said. "We are just looking for a couple of guys to come out of that bullpen and establish themselves. I thought Lowery did a good job once he settled down a little bit the last couple of innings. He threw the ball better, located it better, but just didn't come in and do that right away. Simpson was just behind in the count the whole time."
The two teams will meet again Wednesday at 6:05 p.m before the Razorbacks travel this weekend to face LSU.
"Obviously we need a win," Van Horn said. "We are playing a good team and we are at our own ball park. They pretty much got after us today so it would be nice to get out of here with a win before we head to Baton Rouge."
UNLV 10, Arkansas 7
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