Hogs rally, then hang on to beat Mizzou

Arkansas scored four runs in the sixth inning and overcame a shaky ninth to beat Missouri 7-6 Friday at Baum Stadium.

Arkansas scored four runs in the sixth inning and overcame a shaky ninth to beat Missouri 7-6 Friday at Baum Stadium. 

The Razorbacks led 7-3 entering the ninth, but the Tigers hit two home runs off reliever Jordan Rodriguez in the span of three at-bats to pull within 7-6. Zach Jackson worked around a walk in the inning to record a two-out save. 

Arkansas (19-7, 4-3 SEC) overcame a three-run deficit to win its fourth straight conference game. Austin Catron had an RBI single to tie the game in the sixth and Michael Bernal followed with an RBI single to give Arkansas a 4-3 lead.

"I told them after the game, 'That was a tremendous job of believing you could win the game and keep fighting," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "If we can just survive it until we get it right...I think we could have a tremendous season." 

Bernal's single chased Missouri starter Reggie McClain, who gave up a season-high six runs. McClain, a senior right-hander, suffered his first loss of the season. 

"He pitches off his off-speed," Van Horn said. "He doesn't throw a lot of fastballs; I bet he's 3 to 1 either change-up and slider to fastball. The second couple of times threw the order, we decided to try to sit on that slow stuff a little bit."

The Tigers (15-13, 0-7 SEC) replaced McClain with right-hander Cole Barlett, who gave up an RBI single to Clark Eagan to cap the rally.  

Arkansas added another run in the seventh on Rick Nomura's RBI single. Shane Benes' solo home run pulled Missouri within three runs in the ninth and Brett Bond's two-run home run made it 7-6.

Jackson walked one-hole hitter Kirby McGuire before Jake Ring and Ryan Howard flied out in consecutive at-bats to end the game. 

Arkansas overcame another short start by Dominic Taccolini, who allowed three runs in a one-inning start. Taccolini faced just nine batters and didn't record an out in the second inning.

Van Horn said Taccolini isn't likely to start again next Friday at Ole Miss. The junior right-hander has only pitched nine innings in three SEC starts. 

"We need him," Van Horn said. "He's got to find a way to get it back."

Missouri took a 1-0 lead on Zach Lavy's sacrifice fly in the first inning. Aided by two Arkansas errors, the Tigers added two runs in the second and took a 3-0 lead on Bond's RBI single. 

Josh Alberius pitched four scoreless innings in relief of Taccolini. Alberius inherited the bases loaded in the second, but didn't allow a run. 

"I just knew even being down a few runs if we could hold them still right here, we still had a chance to win the game," Alberius said. "To get those three outs, I think that helped."

Alberius' three outs came against the one-, two- and three-hole hitters in the Missouri lineup.

"It was huge," Van Horn said. "If they score two more, that probably wins the game. If he gets out of the inning giving up one, he's had a great inning. If he gives up two, not bad. 
"For him to get through that inning with no runs, it changed the game. Mentally they were not happy in that other dugout. It almost swung the momentum to our end."

Doug Willey pitched three scoreless innings to earn the win. Willey and Alberius each recorded three strikeouts. 

The teams are scheduled to play again Saturday at 7:35 p.m.

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