The No. 23 Razorbacks snapped a five-game Southeastern Conference losing skid with an 8-5 win in the opener, but lost 11-8 in Game 2 of the doubleheader to dampen their spirits.
"This is definitely a disappointment," said Hogs senior Clay Goodwin, who was 4-for-8 in the twinbill. "We were looking to win a series (Saturday) and then come out and sweep (today).
"But since we split, (today's) game is the biggest one of the year for us."
The series rubber match will be played at noon today. The Hogs (33-12, 9-11) will start right-hander Lee Land while the Wildcats (22-20, 4-15) will go with left-hander Andrew Albers.
Positive news for Arkansas is its offense came to life after getting shut out in back-to-back losses against LSU last weekend. They tried a new approach at the plate by looking to drive every pitch up the middle and it seemed to work as they put up 16 runs on 25 hits in the doubleheader.
"We did everything we could do offensively," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "We hit the ball good all day and played pretty good defense, but we just didn't finish and that's what is disappointing."
Kentucky 11, Arkansas 8
Not to be denied, Kentucky homered a season-high four times to salvage a split on the day.
The Wildcats homered three times (two by John Shelby, one by Ryan Wilkes) in the first three innings to jump out to an 8-1 lead. Arkansas' Chris Hollensworth accounted for the Hogs' first run, a solo homer in the second.
"This is a lively, lively ballpark," Van Horn said. "Especially when you have got a big wind, but just thin air and when you hit the ball to the outfield, the ball just jumps out of here."
In the fourth, the Razorbacks began to rally. The inning started with consecutive singles by Hollensworth, Danny Hamblin and Scott Hode to load the bases. A wild pitch by Wildcats' starter Aaron Tennyson plated the first run and three more came in on RBI singles by Blake Parker, Brock Bond and Craig Gentry.
"We're all in there together and we were staying up together," said Hollensworth, who had a career-high four hits. "There's no quit in us and we knew things would work out if we just stayed with our approach and it almost did."
Arkansas cut the lead to 8-7 with Hollensworth's two-run homer -- his second of the game and third this season -- in the fifth, but Kentucky answered with a run in the bottom of the inning. The Wildcats added two more in the sixth highlighted by a solo homer by Shelby -- his third of the game and 10th this season -- to increase the lead to 11-7.
"We were struggling, but we battled," Van Horn said. "We were one big hit away from winning that thing. Give them credit, they came out and swung the bats good and it ended up turning into a little bit of a slugfest."
Arkansas 8, Kentucky 5
Nick Schmidt turned in one of the best starts for a UA pitcher in some time by allowing two runs on six hits in six-plus innings. The freshman left-hander struck out seven, his most since fanning 11 in a 9-1 win at South Carolina in the SEC opener on March 18.
It was the longest outing for an Arkansas starter since Charley Boyce went 6 1/3 innings in an 8-7 loss at Auburn on April 2.
"I didn't start off too good in the first inning after they got a couple of bloop hits that fell in, But after that, I settled in and felt pretty good up until the seventh."
Schmidt (6-1) was aided by stellar defense and a hot-hitting Hogs' offense which scored in all but three innings. Brian Walker and Ben Tschepikow each had three hits (both season-highs) to lead the 12-hit attack.
Boyce entered with no outs and a pair of runners on in the seventh courtesy of a pair of Schmidt walks. Boyce, a fourth-year junior, needed only four pitches to escape the seventh. He gave up three earned runs in the ninth, but still managed to pick up his third save thanks to the six-run cushion heading into the inning.
After digging a 2-0 hole in the first, the Razorbacks looked inspired over the next five innings with Hamblin's RBI single up the middle pushing the go-ahead run across in the third inning.
Arkansas Suffers Bittersweet Saturday
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