For most of the SEC season, Saturday has been an off day for the Arkansas baseball team. There have been games, it's just that the Razorbacks have not been competitive at times.
So when the opener of the SEC baseball series was washed out Friday night at No. 1 Texas A&M, it might have been a bad omen for regular opening night starter Trey Killian. At least, that's what it looked like in Killian's toughest outing in three seasons as an Arkansas pitcher to open the Saturday doubleheader at Blue Bell Park.
Killian (1-3) didn't make it out of the fifth inning, allowing 11 hits and three free passes (two walks, one hit batsman) to give the Aggies a 11-0 head start in a 13-6 victory. Killian led the SEC with four complete games last year, but has not managed the same form after missing the first two weekends recovering from elbow tendinitis that decked him on a Team USA tour last summer.
It didn't get better in the nightcap. The Aggies (35-3, 12-3) broke open a tight game with a Nick Banks grand slam in the bottom of the sixth for an 8-3 lead, just ahead of a thunderstorm that suspended play at 10 p.m.
Andrew Benintendi helped the Hogs (22-17, 7-9) stay close for six innings. Benintendi singled twice and scored both times, the second on Chad Spanberger's double off the top of the wall. In the first, Benintendi singled, stole second and scored on Tyler Spoon's infield hit. In the fifth, Benintendi legged out a double in front of the centerfielder, stole second and trotted in on the Spanberger blast.
Arkansas starter Dominic Tacolini gave up a two-run homer to Logan Taylor in the second. He was replaced with one out in the sixth after giving up a walk and a single. Jackson got a strikeout, before allowing a walk ahead of the Banks fly over the wall in right field to make it 8-3. Jackson Lowery retired the final out in the sixth.
In the opener, the Aggies got a three-run home run by Logan Taylor in the first. They added two in the third before knocking out Killian with six in the fifth. There were four straight two-out hits -- three for extra bases -- to end Killian's afternoon. Reliever Jonah Patten didn't help with a balk and a wild pitch to let in the final Killian run.
The Hogs responded with six runs in the top of the sixth. Second baseman Michael Bernal got the big blow, a grand slam. Tyler Spoon and Luke Bonfield had RBI singles ahead of Bernal's homer. But that's as close as the Hogs would come. Andrew Vinson, the fourth A&M pitcher, shut the door with three shutout innings of relief. He struckout six.
Starter Grayson Long (8-0) got the victory but lasted only five innings. He pitched to six batters in the sixth, but did not record an out. He gave up six hits and four walks.
The conclusion of the nightcap will be played Sunday at noon. The final game of the series, which will be a seven-inning contest, will start at 3 p.m. and be televised on the SEC Network.
Texas A&M 13, Arkansas 6
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