Extra-innings loss sours early success

Arkansas beat Texas A&M in Game 1, but lost an extra-innings heartbreaker in Game 2 Saturday at Baum Stadium. This story is free courtesy Northwest Arkansas Honda Dealers. Click the banner to learn more.

 — Hunter Melton hit a two-run home run during Texas A&M's three-run 11th inning and the No. 2 Aggies held off a late Arkansas rally to win 11-8 Saturday in the second game of a doubleheader. 

Melton crushed a 3-2 pitch from Razorbacks reliever Blaine Knight to give Texas A&M a 10-8 lead with one out in the inning. Michael Barash added an RBI single later in the inning to give the Aggies a three-run lead. 

"It's tough when you're trying to face a lineup like that," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn, referencing the Aggies' SEC-leading offense. "You can't make too many mistakes.

"I thought we played well for the most part. We made a few mistakes in the field that gave them a few extra at-bats in the second game."

Arkansas tied the game in the ninth when pinch-hitter Alex Gosser singled with two outs and scored Rick Nomura from second base. Gosser entered the at-bat with a .077 average and had only one hit all season. 

"That was a big hit," Van Horn said. "His teammates were excited for him. 

"He's been hanging out in the bullpen catching a lot of pitchers all day and doesn't complain. When his number was called, he came through and got a big hit, and I think his teammates appreciated that."

The Razorbacks (26-17, 7-13 SEC) scored five runs in the bottom of the first inning to take a 5-2 lead. The Aggies chipped away at the lead until the fifth when Nick Banks hit a grand slam off Arkansas starter Zach Jackson to give Texas A&M a 7-6 lead. 

It was the second straight year that Banks hit a grand slam off of Jackson, who left the game following the home run. The right-hander allowed seven runs on six hits and struck out six. 

The Aggies (34-9, 13-7) added another run in the sixth, but Arkansas pulled within 8-7 when Chad Spanberger singled to score Michael Bernal with two outs in the seventh.

The Razorbacks recorded 14 hits, but stranded 11 runners, including the bases loaded in the first and fourth innings. It looked as if Arkansas might increase its 6-3 lead in the fourth, but Tucker Pennell was robbed of an extra-base hit with the bases loaded when Texas A&M left fielder J.B. Moss made a diving catch to end the inning.

"The left fielder makes a diving catch and they come in and score four runs," Van Horn said. "That's the way the game can turn on you, just like that. If that ball drops in we score two, maybe three and we have a huge lead. 

"When you do something, take advantage of it, and they did."

Mark Ecker pitched 4 1/3 innings of relief to earn the win for Texas A&M. Ecker gave up the run in the ninth, but it was unearned because of an error. 

Ecker recorded eight of the Aggies' 16 strikeouts. Turner Larkins struck out two of the three batters he faced in the 11th to record the save. 

The teams are scheduled to play again Sunday at 1 p.m. 

Game 1

Arkansas scored four runs in the sixth inning to take the lead and the Razorbacks upset No. 2 Texas A&M 9-5 Saturday at Baum Stadium. 

Austin Catron had a sacrifice fly to give Arkansas a 5-4 lead. Clark Eagan followed with a two-run triple and Luke Bonfield had an RBI single to make it 8-4 Razorbacks. 

Texas A&M pulled within 8-5 on a wild pitch by Arkansas reliever James Teague in the top of the eighth, but the Razorbacks got a run back when Aggies reliever Stephen Kolek walked Cullen Gassaway with the bases loaded. 

Josh Alberius and Blaine Knight each pitched a scoreless inning in relief for the Razorbacks (26-16, 7-12 SEC). 

Texas A&M led 3-0 on Ryne Birk's three-run home run in the first inning. Arkansas pulled within 3-2 on Rick Nomura's two-run double in the second, but the Aggies added another run in the top of the third when Boomer White hit a solo home run off Razorbacks starter Dominic Taccolini. 

Arkansas tied the game 4-4 in the bottom of the third when Carson Shaddy homered after Eagan singled to lead-off the inning. The home run was Shaddy's sixth of the season, but first since March 4. 

Taccolini pitched six innings to earn the win for Arkansas. After throwing a complete-game shutout at Kentucky last week, Taccolini struck out six and allowed five runs on nine hits. 

"I was hitting my spots and wasn't too worried, and tried not to panic (after the first inning)," Taccolini said. "I just knew that I had to get out of that inning and keep rolling. Some of those innings were kind of tough because they have the best hitting lineup in the SEC. They got their hits, but I was able to minimize the damage."

Texas A&M reliever Andrew Vinson was charged with the loss. Vinson allowed four runs on three hits and two walks, and only recorded two outs. 

The Aggies (33-9, 12-7) entered the game with 11 wins in their last 12 games. The teams are scheduled to play again at 6 p.m. Saturday.

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