Hogs Bulldogged Again

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas is off to its worst Southeastern Conference start since joining the league in 1992 after Saturday's 8-7 loss against Georgia in front of 6,593 in Baum Stadium.

The No. 11 Razorbacks (19-5) started 0-3 twice and 2-5 a couple of times, but never 1-4 in SEC play. Both years (1995, 2001) they started 0-3, they rebounded with back-to-back wins to go 2-3 through the first five games.

"If we don't turn it around pretty quick, we're going to be looking at next year," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "This was a good ball game. They got the big hit and we didn't. We got one, they got three.

"A loss is a loss. It doesn't really matter to me how it (happens), we've just got to get some Ws on our side of the category over there because right now, it's a fight for every game."

Saturday's fight was pretty much over after Gordon Beckham broke a 6-all tie with a two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning for No. 25 Georgia (17-4, 3-2). The Hogs' attempt at a rally came up short as they were only able to push one run across in their final at-bat to create the final margin.

Stephen Robison doubled to right-center field to give Arkansas hope in the bottom of the ninth. He scored on an RBI single by Chris Hollensworth.

That brought on Georgia closer Joshua Fields for the second consecutive night and he struck out both David Hum and Brian Walker to end the game. All 12 of Fields' pitches were fastballs in the mid 90s.

"(Fields) said he had an inning left and fortunately, we hit a two-run homer and had a little wiggle room," said Georgia coach David Perno, whose team secured its first-ever series win in Fayetteville. "It was the right timing and we were very fortunate. It was a well played game by both clubs. We just got the big break when we needed."

The big break came a few pitches before Beckham's homer. Had it not been for a one-out fielding error by Hogs second baseman Logan Forsythe, Beckham never would have came to the plate in the ninth. He hit a high fastball off Hogs reliever Chris Rhoads, who had retired nine straight before the error after helping escape a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning.

"The ball was up the middle and I tried to back-hand it to get to the ball quicker and I just tried to throw it before I caught it," said Forsythe, who said teammates picked him up afterwards. "It's not one error by one guy that everybody looks at. It's our team and if we don't get it done, we don't get it done as a team."

Van Horn didn't place any blame on Rhoads for his mistake or on Forsythe, a converted third baseman, for the error. Van Horn was the most upset with the offense for stranding nine runners, including four on third base.

There also was a pair of bunts that were not executed, including one popped up to first by Blake Parker with Wayne Hrozek on third in the seventh inning.

"When you go back to it and you look at the middle of the game, that's where we didn't win the game," Van Horn said. "Runners at third a couple of times and don't score anybody. Just little things. Little things add up.

"That's been the story of about the last two or three weeks with this team. When we start driving people in, we'll probably start winning a few games. But right now, it ain't happening."

Hogs slugger Danny Hamblin gave Arkansas a 6-3 lead with a grand slam in the fifth inning. He seems to be the only Razorbacks consistently driving in runs and leads the SEC with 36 RBIs.

Still, other veterans like Parker, Brian Walker and Jake Dugger haven't been producing. Combined, the trio has two hits in their last 61 at-bats.

"It comes down to leaving guys on third base again," said Hamblin, who left a runner on third when he popped up to end the sixth. "We have to get it done right there. When we get an opportunity, we've got to take it especially against a really good team that's swinging the bats really well."

Georgia answered Hamblin's homer with three runs in the top of the sixth to even the score at 6-all. One run came in on an error and another scored when Hogs starter Charley Boyce issued a bases-loaded walk. Boyce, who allowed five earned runs on six hits in five-plus innings, hadn't walked a batter in his previous two starts.

"That's the key. Home or away, whenever they make a run, you've got to answer with something," Perno said. "You've got to get some momentum back and I was proud of our kids because we responded by putting up a big inning of our own and got right back in the game."


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