The middle game of every SEC series has been the same story for Arkansas, not much good. Some of them have been close, but it got out of hand fast Saturday night at Baum Stadium.
Kentucky broke to a 10-0 lead after three innings on the way to a 16-4 rout that left Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn thankful there won't be long to wait for a chance for redemption.
"The good thing about baseball, you don't have to wait a week to play like in some other sports," Van Horn said after a brief talk with his Razorbacks after the Wildcats pounded 15 hits while evening the series.
Arkansas (19-16, 6-8) has won the last two SEC series, but has struggled in every middle game in the first five series.
"We've lost them all," Van Horn said. "It didn't start out good tonight. The first batter walked on four pitches and three of them were all the same, about at the ankles."
UA starter Dominic Tacollini gave up three in the first and it could have been worse had the Wildcats run the bases a little better. He benefited from two mistakes on the paths.
Taccolini (5-3) gave up six hits, four walks and hit one batter while giving up eight earned runs in two and two/thirds innings. Jacob Stone wasn't much better out of the bullpen. He gave up five hits and four runs in just over two innings of work.
Kentucky (19-14, 5-8) cruised behind starter Dustin Beggs. He went eight innings, allowing five hits and three runs, but only one earned. The Wildcats committed three errors, but all of them came after the game was out of hand.
Kentucky coach Gary Henderson said Beggs was in command of all his pitches.
"Dustin did a nice job of mixing his pitches," Henderson said. "He got ahead well and when he really need to make a pitch he was able to make a pitch. The key was being able to throw secondary stuff for a strike.
"He got ahead in the count and mixed his secondary pitches. Nothing more complicated than that."
Rick Nomura led the Hogs with two hits. Andrew Benintendi cooled a bit. He extended his hitting streak to eight games with a single and a run scored. He had hit six homers in six games.
"It wasn't a good sign when the first batter walked on four pitches," Van Horn said. "Obviously, Dominic didn't have it. He was in trouble the whole time.
"Their starter is pretty good, a strike thrower and we were going to have to hit our way back into it."
Indeed, Beggs walked only one while Arkansas pitching walked 11 and hit six.
"We put some guys out there who don't normally pitch on the weekend, but we were going to save some guys for Sunday," Van Horn said.
First up will be Keaton McKinney. Van Horn said James Teague would be next and Zach Jackson could also pitch after earning the save with three innings Friday night. Game time Sunday is noon.
"It's a big game for both teams," Van Horn said, who said the middle game woes have been a topic before Saturday. "We've challenged them about that. Obviously, tonight wasn't enjoyable for anyone who is a Razorback fan and it wasn't much fun for players or coaches, either."
Kentucky pounded 15 hits, including 12 singles. The first five batters in the lineup all had at least two hits. Evan White and Ka'ai Tom had three apiece.
Kentucky 16, Arkansas 4
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