Hogs Can't Finish Sweep

Arkansas rallied twice, but couldn't produce with the bases loaded in the 10th to fall to Texas A&M, 6-5, in the Sunday finale at Baum Stadium.

Arkansas kept hope for a sweep alive with two rallies, but missed a great chance for the clinching comeback, leaving the bases loaded in the 10th inning when the heart of the order came up empty.

After the Hogs loaded the bases with no outs, reliever A. J. Minter mowed down the three-four-five hitters in the UA lineup. He struck out Andrew Benintendi and Brian Anderson, then ended it on a 3-2 pitch to Eric Fisher on a soft fly to center.

Texas A&M a 6-5 victory on Logan Nottebrook's solo homer in the 10th after the Hogs won it in their last at bats both Friday and Saturday. That left them tied at 13-14 in the SEC West, both fighting for post-season life. No. 20 A&M is 31-21 overall. The Hogs are 32-21.

The Hogs fought back from a 3-0 deficit to tie it in the sixth, got a 4-3 lead in the seventh on Eric Fisher's RBI single to center. But Joe Serrano's error to let a line drive scoot past him to the wall allowed the Aggies to plate two in the ninth to ruin a stellar four-inning relief stint by Jacob Stone.

Stone was in position for the victory, needing only the final strike against A&M's Cole Lankford. A slicing liner to left slipped under charging Joe Serrano's glove and went to the wall to plate two runs.

"It was a disappointing way for it to end," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "We were one strike from ending it, but we still come back to tie it up. Joe tried to rake it, thinking he had a play at the plate and he probably didn't. It goes through. It's not a good play.

"Then, we have everything going our way in the 10th with three-four-five coming up and don't score. Those guys had done a good job recently, making contact and driving in runs."

Minter got Benintendi on straight fast balls, over powering the freshman. Anderson fouled off a pitch and then took the third strike that may have been out of the zone, a little outside and high.

"It was a changeup that was probably off the plate," Van Horn said. "He hadn't been calling that pitch. Fisher got a 3-2 slider that looked like a strike."

Nottebrook greeted Arkansas closer Michael Gunn with a homer on the third pitch of the 10th, a shot to straight away left, about the only place a homer would leave the park with the wind gusting in from right.

Gunn said it was "changeup that I left up." Gunn was up and ready in the ninth to face the lefthanders, but Van Horn elected to stay with Stone.

"He wanted to stay in and was throwing good," Van Horn said, who disputed the first Aggie baserunner, a hit by pitch.

"The batter that got hit, he said it hit his jersey," Van Horn said. "But I don't think it hit anything."

The Hogs got a break in the 10th when an inside pitch that Clark Eagan was trying to bunt hit his hand instead of the bat and into his midsection. After a long discussion between all four umpires and an argument with A&M coach Rob Childress, he was awarded first. Michael Bernal and Joe Serrano both walked. But the Hogs couldn't cash the break.

"That was a wild game," Childress said. "Back and forth. Arkansas had the momentum and the game in hand. We were down to our last out, last strike, and just stayed in the fight long enough. We tried to give it away a couple of times, but A.J. Minter wouldn't allow that."

Childress said he apologized to Minter when he brought him in for the bases loaded jam in the 10th.

"I told him, 'Heck of a mess I created for you, huh? Why don't you see if you can't get out of it, and lo and behold he did," Childress said. "He got a couple of big strikeouts. Obiously, those were the big ones. They put a ball in play and we're still playing or they're walking off winners like they did on Friday."

Childress was pleased to sneak out of town with the one victory. He left impressed with what the UA pitching staff did in all three games, with a tip of the cap to UA pitching coach Dave Jorn.

"I thought their pitching staff was outstanding," Childress said. "They pitched us as well as we've been pitched all year long. Dave does an outstanding job, Jorn. Very competitive like every Dave Van Horn team, and tough to put away. Just like every Van Horn team there ever has been."

Van Horn was disappointed not to get the Hogs' first SEC sweep in the last home game of the regular season. The Hogs were missing weekend starter Jalen Beeks, the reason freshman Dominic Taccolini got his first start on Sunday. They also were without cleanup batter Blake Baxendale. Both are injured and doubtful for next weekend's series at Missouri.

"We came together and picked each other up," Van Horn said. "It started with (Alex) Gosser, catching on Friday night and give Jake Wise a chance to get back. Even today, we played hard. I'm proud of the guys to come back and have a chance to win the series."

Anderson led an 11-hit UA attack with three hits. Eagan and Bernal added two apiece. Bobby Wernes had two RBI and Eagan, Fisher and Bernal each added an RBI.

Fisher blasted two shots that died in the 25 mph wind blowing in from right field. He hit a towering shot that was caught deep onto the warning track.

"It's frustrating, just hung up," Fisher said. "You watch it come back down and as a hitter you don't like the result, but the big thing is to know you put a good swing on it. It's what happens in Baum."

Van Horn said he doesn't expect Beeks to pitch in Missouri. The series opens Thursday night.

"He didn't pick up a ball this week and we'll see how it goes," Van Horn said. "But I don't think he'll pitch this week. Baxendale, he's not moving very well. I don't think he'll play either."

Attendance was 5,126. There were 8,793 paid, raising the paid average to 8,235. That beat the Baum record of 8,047 in 2007.

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