Hogs Fall to Tigers, 10-1, to Lose Series

Arkansas falls to Missouri, 10-1, to lose the series on Sunday at Baum Stadium. Freshman Cody Scroggins gets final three outs in move to the bullpen.

If you wanted something to smile about, there were not much options over the last two days for the Arkansas baseball team.

Perhaps you could point to Austin Catron, with five hits. And, maybe you could point to Cody Scroggins, another infielder turned pitcher following in the footsteps of Josh Alberius.

Otherwise, it was a pretty disappointing weekend for Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn, looking for two new starting pitchers after the three on the weekend combined for just eight innings as Missouri took two of three from the Razorbacks. Arkansas slipped to 19-9, 4-5 in the SEC.

The Tigers (17-13, 2-7) thrashed the Hogs, 10-1, on Sunday, marking the first time for the home team to lose a weekend series at Baum Stadium in 10 tries dating back to last season. The streak started when they won the Super Regional over Missouri State in the NCAA tournament last year.

The Tigers had two big innings Sunday, scoring four in the fourth and the eighth. And, they kept the Hogs from their big inning in the bottom of the seventh when center fielder Jake Ring made a head-long catch of Carson Shaddy's sinking liner that would have cut the lead to 4-3.

"They made the plays and we didn't the last two games," Van Horn said. "They got the big hits. And, they made the defensive plays."

Mizzou shortstop Ryan Howard made the play Saturday night, cutting off Eric Cole's hard shot and turning it into a force out to slow down the Hogs in their big inning of a potential comeback. It was a nice play, but Ring had the play of the weekend.

The Hogs had plated one run on a bases loaded ground out by Darien Simms in the seventh. Shaddy, struggling after sliding into the three spot in the lineup, cranked a drive into the alley in right center field. A 25 mph wind blowing across the field from right pushed Shaddy's sinking liner towards the streaking Ring.

"The wind probably brought it back to him a little," Van Horn said. "But he had a great jump. He made the catch with a head-long dive. If he doesn't catch it, it's 4-3 and we have a runner at second."

Instead, the Tigers are back in the dugout and on cruise control. They scored four runs against Zach Jackson and Josh Alberius in the eighth. A Shaddy error helped the Mizzou cause. Alberius gave up a three-run wind-blown homer to left.

The Tigers plated two more in the ninth when relievers Kacey Murphy and Ty Harris faced five batters and didn't record an out. Harris threw eight balls in nine pitches.

That's when Van Horn turned to Scroggins, the freshman who did everything in his Bentonville High career. He played wide receiver, defensive back and returned kicks for the football team. He played shortstop and pitched for the baseball team. He came to Arkansas to play infield, but Van Horn decided this week that pitching was needed.

Actually, Van Horn approached Scroggins on Wednesday about converting to pitcher next year, just like Alberius did two years ago after coming to Arkansas to play middle infield. Scroggins came to his office Thursday asking why not now.

"He threw a bullpen after practice Thursday," Van Horn said. "It was about 20 pitches and it was nothing but strikes."

When things got ugly in the ninth, Van Horn looked to Scroggins and got the right look back. He sprinted to the bullpen and was ready in quick order.

"I'm not sure he threw many pitches down there," Van Horn said. "When Harris couldn't throw a strike, I went and got him.

"He's got a fast ball with sink and he can hit 90. He can do more than that. He's got a breaking ball. He's fearless."

Scroggins isn't ready to help as a starter, but someone is going to have to step up. Van Horn went to Zach Jackson in the fourth inning Sunday and let him throw 87 pitches to "stretch him out" for a possible start next weekend at Ole Miss. James Teague is another option to start. Jackson gave up four hits and four runs, two of them earned. He walked four with seven strikeouts.

It would appear that the only starter who will survive the Mizzou series is Sunday man Barrett Loseke. Loseke was perfect through three innings, but when he walked the leadoff man the Tigers seemed to solve him on their second time through.

The Hogs didn't muster much of an offense. Catron had two hits and scored the lone UA run. Clark Eagan had two singles in his new role at the top of the lineup. The Hogs had nothing again in the two hole spot. Shaddy will probably move back there after a bad two weeks in the three hole.

"The two hole has been flip a coin," Van Horn said. "Shaddy will be back there. The three-hole was too much for him. I guess we'll move someone up to that spot."

Dominic Taccolini and Keaton McKinney have struggled as starters and will be out this weekend at Ole Miss.

"Obviously, that's our biggest concern," Van Horn said. "Our starting pitching has to improve. You can have a bad (outing) every now and then, but it's tough when it's four out of six or seven. You've seen our starters really struggle. It would be nice to have a starter go seven now and then.

"We will change it up for sure. I'm not sure what, but you probably will see a couple different. We tried to stretch Jackson out today. (James) Teague might get a start. We gotta change something up.

"It was a disappointing weekend. We made mistakes, they took advantage of them. I was disappointed in the starting pitching. We began each game being behind.

"Today, the hitters had no sense of urgency. The lefthander was 88-90, like we've seen."

Van Horn congratulated the Tigers. They had lost their first six SEC games to Florida and Vanderbilt, but were impressive on the weekend at Baum.

"They played well all weekend," he said. "They played better than us."

Van Horn said there are some injured pitchers. Doug Willey is battling a bad back. He was throwing at the end of the game, but Van Horn elected to use Scroggins instead.

"Cody is mentally tough," Van Horn said. "He's not scared.

"We were getting Willey ready, but he really didn't need to pitch."

Reliever Cannon Chadwick wasn't on the weekend roster because of injury. He could be ready to travel to Ole Miss.

"I'm not sure, but he threw in the bullpen today and didn't have pain," said Van Horn, who did say that Scroggins will be on the travel roster.

First, there is a trip to Memphis and a nonconference game at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Ole Miss series starts on Thursday in Oxford. The Hogs then play Louisiana-Monroe in North Little Rock on April 12. They won't be back at Baum until April 14-16 against Florida.

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