On Friday, No. 10 Arkansas (17-2, overall, 1-1 in Southeastern Conference play) blew a two-run lead with two errors in the seventh inning of a 6-3 loss against the No. 15 Gators (16-7, 1-1). The series' rubber match is at 11 a.m. today.
"It was really a chess match for both teams," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "The difference in the ball game was that last category (on the scoreboard). They had four errors and we had none. It was a really close game and we just played solid defense.
"It cost us the game (Friday), but won us the game (Saturday)."
Two plays proved to be difference makers Saturday. With one out in the first inning, Florida slugger Matt LaPorta hit a towering shot to deep left center. The hit was high enough for Hogs center fielder Craig Gentry to find the wall and get into position for a perfectly timed jump that robbed LaPorta of a homer.
"That ball was hit so high and the wind was blowing out at the time," Van Horn said. "That ball just carried and carried and carried and Craig jumped up and caught it or it would've definitely fallen over the wall.
"That was a big play."
The second difference maker was more subtle. With no outs, a runner on first and Arkansas clinging to a 3-2 lead in the eighth, UA reliever Shaun Seibert came up with a heads up double play that changed the complexion of the inning.
Florida's Matt Gaski popped up a sacrifice bunt attempt that Seibert caught near the first-base line and alertly flipped to first for the second out of the inning. Two batters later, the threat and the inning was over.
"Seibert had enough baseball instincts to make that play," Van Horn said. "That was huge. It was a momentum killer and got us fired up in the dugout. We felt pretty good about the outcome after that."
Arkansas turned a season-high three double plays to aid starter Trey Holloway (2-0), who started a double play of his own to end the second inning.
"Our defense was unbelievable," Holloway said. "Gentry made some great plays and our middle infielders did a great job and then the pitchers helped out, too. We work hard on it every week and even though we're pitchers, we want to be a fielder out there, too."
Florida starter Bryan Augenstein pitched a complete game. He performed well enough to win, but suffered his first loss in six decisions. While Arkansas made every play defensively, the Gators matched a season high with four errors.
"In this league, you've got to be an outstanding defensive club," said Florida coach Pat McMahon. "I think Arkansas was very opportunistic in taking advantage of our mistakes."
Augenstein (5-1) wasn't upset with the defense as much as he was with himself walking only his third hitter in 43 1/3 innings to lead off the fifth. Matt Willard, who worked a full-count walk, ended up scoring later in the inning.
"That walk scored the third run," Augenstein said. "I tried to pull everybody through behind me because they work really hard and stuff like (the four errors) is going to happen."
Holloway exceeded expectations in his second career start by pitching into the sixth inning. He didn't walk or strike out anybody and made only one mistake, leaving a changeup high in the zone to Gavin Dickey for a two-run homer to left center in the fifth.
Not only did Dickey's fifth homer of the season cut Arkansas' lead to one run, it made Van Horn switch relievers, going with right-hander Shaun Seibert with one out in the sixth instead of left-hander James Gilbert, who was the first to warm up in the bullpen.
The contrasting styles between Holloway, a crafty lefty, to Seibert, who's more of a power pitcher, bought the Razorbacks some time as the Gators had to adjust to only the second righty they had seen during the series. Daryl Maday, another right-hander, finished off Florida by retiring four of the final five batters to record his team-leading fifth save.
"We just decided to change it up a little bit," Van Horn said. "The plan of the day was to go with Seibert early, but it was more in the middle of the game before Trey hit his pitch count so we got Gilbert up first.
"We were going to go with Gilbert, but it would have been backing up a pitcher with the same type pitcher and we wanted to go with a righty instead."
The game began with Gentry reaching on a two-base fielding error by Gators third baseman David Cash. A sacrifice bunt by Clint Arnold moved Gentry over to third and he would come in on another error by Cash, this time on a throw, to give Arkansas a 1-0 lead.
Danny Hamblin drove in a run in the third and another in the fifth to increase the lead to 3-0 before Dickey's homer in the bottom of the fifth made it interesting.
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