Defense Deserts Hogs Again

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- For more than three hours, Arkansas was on cruise control. But it all came to a grinding halt in the final 15 minutes of Sunday's 8-7 loss against Florida in front of 1,853 in McKethan Stadium.

The No. 10 Razorbacks (17-3, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) led 7-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh before No. 15 Florida (17-7, 2-1) rallied for eight unanswered runs to complete its second come-from-behind victory of the series.

It was Arkansas' largest blown deficit since Florida came from six runs down to beat the Hogs 9-8 in last year's Southeastern Conference tournament.

His voice hoarse from yelling at umpires and players, Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn tried to explain what went wrong.

"That was a big game right there," Van Horn said. "We just had a big swing game that we had in the bag, but defense let us down. It was really disappointing how we lost it. They took it to us, but we gave it to them as well.

"It's just disappointing because we could have been 3-0, but instead we're 1-2."

With two on and two outs in the seventh, Hogs third baseman Blake Parker fielded a routine grounder that should have ended the inning with Arkansas leading 7-3. Instead, Parker looked to second base for a brief moment before making a wild throw to first that allowed a run to score.

It also opened the floodgates.

Two more runs would score in the inning and Florida's Adam Davis completed the comeback with a three-run homer in the eighth to create the final margin.

"We've got no communication for our third baseman, they didn't say anything," Van Horn said. "He fields the ball and he's looking to make the little short throw (to second), then he tries to change and throws the ball away.

"Then a passed ball gets by and all the sudden, a four-run lead is two runs and they came out and did what they needed to do and got a couple of hits."

While a black eye for Arkansas, the game also was a tribute to the Gators' ability to dig in instead of giving in when faced with a huge early deficit that was created by their own problems defensively.

They matched a season-high for the second game in a row with four errors, including two by starting pitcher Chas Spottswood during Arkansas' five-run first inning. James Ewing, David Hum, Jake Dugger and Parker each drove in a run in the first. The Razorbacks added single runs in the second and in the seventh to build what appeared to be a comfortable, seven-run lead.

"I hope you see the strength and character of our ball club through that (comeback)," said Florida coach Pat McMahon. "A factor for us is to try to win the seventh, eighth and ninth and get a game close to that and we talked about that. If you break the game into little pieces, hopefully good things will happen and to our guys credit, they did that (Sunday)."

Spottswood was knocked out of the first inning and was one of six pitchers Florida sent to the mound. Josh Edmondson came on in the first for Spottswood and allowed just one run in 3 2/3 innings. Darren O'Day, making his second appearance of the series, scattered two hits in the final two innings to record the win.

"The key for us starting with Josh Edmondson was the quality holds in the middle of the game," McMahon said. "That puts you in a position for that to happen. I'm very proud of the way our guys continued to battle throughout the game."

The late-inning loss squandered a second solid start in a row by Arkansas' Charley Boyce, who was scheduled to start Saturday before sitting out with an illness. Pitching into the seventh, he allowed three runs (one earned) on eight hits with two strikeouts. He threw a season-high 105 pitches, including 68 for strikes.

Despite the performance, Boyce had a hand in Florida's comeback when he made a throwing error on a grounder back to the mound to start the seventh inning.

"Charley's got to make that play. It was a routine play," Van Horn said. "We played pretty good this weekend. We did everything but win. That's the sign of some dumb mistakes and guys just not getting it done when the game is on the line. That's what's disappointing.

"We're leaving Florida and they're probably feeling like they got after us, but we left a couple of games here. It's frustrating, but it's not going to get any easier. Our league is tough."

Arkansas will take today off before playing two home games against Centenary on Tuesday and Wednesday in Baum Stadium.


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