Hogs Need 11 To Beat Wichita State

WICHITA, Kan. -- Prior to traveling to Wichita for Tuesday's game against Wichita State, Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said the game could be one that decides which team gets to host a regional and which one is forced to the road to start the postseason.

The game at Eck Stadium was certainly worthy of such lofty billing, as the teams needed 11 innings before No. 13 Arkansas came up with a 4-3 win.

Matt Willard, who started the scoring with a sacrifice fly, came through with a first-pitch single off Wichita State reliever Noah Krol to drive in Blake Parker for the first run in five innings and send Arkansas (21-5) to its second consecutive win --both in extra innings.

Willard was looking for an off-speed pitch from Krol and the Wichita State pitcher obliged quickly with a slider.

"I was just looking for a great pitch to hit, got one first pitch and just put a good swing on it," Willard said. "I was out front on a lot of off-speed pitches all night, so I figured at least once in my at-bat they'd come with an off-speed pitch so I was just going to sit on it and got it first pitch."

It was the first extra-inning game of the season for the No. 17 Shockers (21-6).

The game was a nonconference battle of teams coming off tough weekend conference series. Both needed wins Sunday to avoid being swept, Arkansas against Georgia and Wichita State against Southern Illinois.

Arkansas hadn't had a serious scoring chance since Logan Forsythe's sixth-inning home run tied the game 3-3.

It wasn't easy for the Razorbacks to put away, though, as Wichita State put runners on first and third with one out before Chris Rhoads struck out Damon Sublett to take some of the pressure off before Derek Schermerhorn hit a hard grounder at third baseman Blake Parker. Parker kept the ball in front of him, gathered himself, and beat Schermerhorn with his throw to first.

"The biggest batter he had to face was that strikeout," Van Horn said. "We needed a popup or a strikeout or a double-play ball, and fortunately we got the K. ... then (Parker) stayed in front of it, knocked it down, didn't panic, he picked it up and threw the ball with an outstanding, accurate arm across the diamond and helped us get the win."

Rhoads' save, his second of the season, capped a stellar night for Arkansas' pitchers. Starter James Gilbert pitched five innings, allowing three unearned runs, while the bullpen --Shaun Seibert, Devin Collis and Rhoads --combined to throw six shutout innings.

"That's always been one of the things that's stuck in my mind from the time I was a little kid," said Wichita State coach Gene Stephenson. "You take all the good ones and you swing at all the bad ones. And that's about the way we are right now. A lot of bad hitters in the lineup.

"Had it not been for a couple of misplays by them in the second, we wouldn't have scored at all."

Forsythe picked a perfect time to hit his first career home run, getting just enough on an 0-2 pitch from Noah Booth to get it over the left-field wall. Wichita State's Tyler Hill, running to his right, leaped at the wall and appeared momentarily to come up with the catch, but his body language quickly indicated the ball was over the wall instead of in Hill's glove.

"The pitching was very good for both sides," Stephenson said. "We made one terrible mistake in the fifth inning and a guy hit one out and that was the difference in the game as far as I'm concerned."

Van Horn wasn't around to see the end of the game after being ejected in the eighth arguing a safe call on a stolen base attempt. For the second time in two batters, Van Horn left the dugout to argue with an umpire, this time exchanging words with umpire Tim Norman after Norman called Krol safe on a stolen-base attempt. Van Horn had argued with the home plate umpire just prior for awarding Krol a base when Van Horn felt he stepped into the pitch. The ejection was Van Horn's first of the season.

Arkansas jumped ahead early with single runs in the second and third. In the second, the Razorbacks took advantage of Shockers' starter Kris Johnson's wildness. Johnson walked three straight to start the inning before Willard delivered a sacrifice fly to put Arkansas up 1-0. Danny Hamblin added an RBI single in the third. Hamblin's single was aided by the hard turf on the infield, as it hit off the turf and bounded into left field.

Johnson walked five in just 1 2/3 innings.

Fielding woes once again cost the Razorbacks, leading to three unearned runs in the third for the Shockers.

After a Forsythe error kept the inning alive and loaded the bases, Schermerhorn delivered a double in front of a diving Craig Gentry in center, scoring all three. Schermerhorn was thrown out at third to end the inning.

"Not very many mistakes, but the ones that we made killed us," Van Horn said. "If we don't rush, we get a tag out, inning's over; Gentry breaks back on a ball that drops in, costs us three runs. They don't score another run.

"We pitched good tonight. We got the leadoff man out all night."

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