This time, however, the No. 11 Razorbacks kept their composure and, with the help of a 10th-inning wild pitch, scored a 5-4 win against No. 25 Georgia in front of 5,308 in Baum Stadium on Sunday.
After losing the first two games of the series and two of three games at Florida last weekend, Sunday's victory turned lots of frowns upside down, especially Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn's.
He hadn't had much to smile about with his Hogs (20-5, 2-4 in Southeastern Conference play) blowing two leads at Florida and another Saturday against the Bulldogs (17-5, 3-3) with late-inning errors.
Their four SEC losses have been by a combined six runs.
"We needed a 'W' no matter what happened," Van Horn said. "I just pointed out to our players, and we've got a lot of young players on this team, I told them first off, 'If you want good competition, you picked the right league to come play in. Because in this league, it is not over until the last out of the last inning. Don't ever start celebrating. Don't get too excited until we squeeze that last out one way or the other.'"
Several factors played roles in Sunday's win. There was Van Horn's pep talk in the middle of the ninth, Brian Walker's encouraging phone call from hitting coach Todd Butler late Saturday and Trey Holloway's inspiring dream about his late grandfather.
Van Horn was forced to try to rally the team after Georgia scored three runs in the top of the ninth, highlighted by Josh Morris' two-run homer. The tying run scored after third baseman Blake Parker, inserted as a defensive substitute before the inning, let a routine grounder skip under his glove that would have ended the game.
"I just told them, 'Don't come in with your head down and thinking you're beat,'" Van Horn said. "'Because if you are, if that's the way you feel, we're going to lose because nothing comes easy in this league. We're being challenged right now with the injuries, with these comebacks by other teams and games we've blown. You've got to believe you're going to win and we'll find a way to win.'"
Van Horn said he wasn't sure if the pep talk would work, but he knew he needed to say something before too many heads started drooping.
Georgia coach David Perno credited the Hogs for their resilience afterwards.
"They could have folded up the tents after we tied it up," Perno said. "Then, (Hogs reliever Devin) Collis did a nice job of holding us down and they got the run."
Walker snapped an 0-for-25 slump with a pair of key doubles in his final two at-bats. He drove in Jake Dugger for what proved to be an important run that gave Arkansas a 4-1 lead in the eighth inning. Then in the 10th, it was his double that led to the game-winning run as Clint Arnold, pinch-running for Walker, scored on a wild pitch.
A late Saturday night call from Butler was all it took to lift Walker's spirits.
"I'm just laying in bed sulking, just miserable," Walker said. "I want to help this team out and I didn't get it done (Saturday). Coach Butler just told me to get here early and work because it's going to come for me.
"You can't go 0-for-the-rest-your-life. It was matter of time and I'm glad it was (Sunday) because it helped us win."
Holloway was brilliant in his second consecutive start and third of his career. Throwing just 78 pitches, including 55 for strikes, the senior left-hander scattered four hits in seven innings. His only mistake came in the seventh when Bobby Felmy hammered a solo homer into the wind over the bullpen in right.
In Holloway's dream, his grandfather -- the late John Holloway -- provided words of encouragement which have echoed throughout his grandson's head during the last two starts.
It occurred the night before last Saturday's 3-2 win at Florida.
"He said, 'It's just a game ... It's just a game,'" Holloway said. "So I went out there with that mentality. It is just a game. I'm here to play baseball. I'm fortunate to play. My grandpa is someone I really look up to and I've looked up to my entire life.
"He's with me every time I go out there. That was big for me."
It was big for Arkansas, which desperately needed Holloway to come through since it had been struggling to produce runs lately. It required a wild pitch by Bulldogs reliever Rip Warren to push the winning run across in the 10th. Arnold had advanced to third when Stephen Robison unsuccessfully attempted an ill-advised bunt for the second out.
"Robison did it on his own and we'll have to talk about that, but it worked out," Van Horn said. "I just told Clint, 'Hey, he's ahead with two strikes. He's going to bounce a breaking ball (in the dirt). Be ready. Here it comes.' And he laid it out there a little bit too far and it hit the catcher's chest protector and went straight in the air and I knew we were going to win.
"That was a good feeling."
Hogs Win In 10
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