Arkansas Freshman Does His Part In Loss Against L

FAYETTEVILLE —Arkansas designated hitter Clint Arnold struggled to push the words and make them roll off the tip of his tongue.

Words were difficult to speak because he felt so genuinely bad about what had just happened again.

Somehow, eventually, he found a way to construct a complete sentence with a subject-verb agreement.

"Really, I don't know what to say," Arnold said. "We lost."

That was the absolute bottom line for this freshman, who did everything he possibly could to stop the bleeding against LSU on Sunday in a critical Southeastern Conference series.

But ...

It wasn't enough as the No. 20 Tigers beat the No. 14 Razorbacks 6-0 in front of 7,486 fans in Baum Stadium on another sunny, but gloomy day for Arnold's team.

Suddenly, even a trip to the SEC Postseason Tournament in Hoover, Ala., looked in jeopardy.

Say, what?

Arkansas (31-11, 8-10 in the SEC) now has its back against the wall with its arms wrapped around an uncertain future because it got swept at home for the first time since 2003 (by Mississippi State).

"Man, this a tough one to take," Arnold said. "We needed this win today in the worst way."

Again, Arnold did his part.

He got half of his team's hits (four) — tying a career high — but the rest of the lineup didn't follow suit.

In addition, he stole two bases — also tying a career high — to give him seven steals in nine attempts.

Arkansas, which hasn't scored a run in the last 23 innings, found itself facing another productive left-hander (Greg Smith), who only Arnold seemed to own Sunday.

He might have had a chance to break the scoreless drought in the very first inning when right fielder Jake Dugger led off with a walk.

However, Dugger was picked off shortly after he reached first. Craig Gentry followed with a ground out to second.

Then Arnold doubled to center field.

Arnold raised his batting average from .301 to .321 by going 4-for-4. He went 4-for-6 against Centenary on March 22 in a 10-1 win in Shreveport, La.

Recently, he's gone pretty much under the radar at the plate.

"Oh man, I haven't been doing much lately," Arnold said. "I was fortunate to get some pitches to hit. Started hitting today.

"It's about time. "It didn't matter, as a team, we didn't swing the bats well today. So, it's a tough day. We've got to win Tuesday night (against Oral Roberts at home).

"I'm just trying to see the ball and hit the ball. I was seeing it today and was fortunate to get some hits. I don't think about hitting.

"If I do think about it, I'm in trouble."

Razorbacks first baseman Danny Hamblin, who had his 15-game hitting streak halted Sunday, totally appreciated Arnold's contribution.

"Good to see him come back and swing it well," said Hamblin. "Me and him worked before the series real hard, trying to find a great swing for him.

"He found it.

"It's good to see it. He's back hitting."

Of course, it was no secret Arnold wasn't banging the ball around like he was early this month. On April 7, he was hitting .330, the best among all true freshmen.

"Well, he's been struggling of late," said Hogs catcher Brian Walker. "He's a young kid, but a very mature kid. He's always working hard. He deserves greatest because he's always working so hard. He's always hitting.

"He's always into the game. He's was into the game today. He plays hard. It's good to see him ... it's always hard to pull something positive out of a game like today.

"It's good to see him have four hits and get back into the swing of the game. It's good to see him help us. That will help us down the road, getting his swing back."

Even relief pitcher Charley Boyce noticed.

"He did a good job today," Boyce said. "He's been on the rocks a little bit here lately, but he got his shot today and made the most of it.

"He did a nice job of trying to help us out."

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