Hogs Win Wild One

FAYETTEVILLE -- A few thousand of the crowd of 7,327 hung around Baum Stadium to see Arkansas rally for an improbable 10-9 win against Kentucky on Friday.

Few could blame those who left as the No. 12 Razorbacks (26-9, 7-6 in Southeastern Conference play) trailed by five runs heading into their final at-bat and had looked downright awful offensively throughout most of the nearly four-hour marathon.

The final run scored on an error when Kentucky third baseman Michael Bertram fielded a grounder off the bat of Matt Willard before one-hopping a throw that skipped off of first baseman Ryan Strieby.

The win moves Arkansas into second place in the Western Division, two games behind Alabama.

Most of Arkansas' rally can be attributed to Kentucky pitchers. With the bases loaded and one out, UK closer Brock Baber hit Logan Forsythe with a pitch to push a run across. That brought on reliever Andrew Albers, who walked Craig Gentry and Wayne Hrozek to trim the lead to 9-7.

Albers then was replaced by hard-throwing right-hander Zach Dials. He struck out Danny Hamblin before Chris Hollensworth tied the score at 9-all with a two-run double to right-center field.

For the inning, No. 19 Kentucky (25-9, 7-6) walked four batters and hit another with a pitch. The teams hook up again at 4:05 p.m. today.

What appeared harmless at the time proved disastrous for Arkansas during a four-run seventh inning. Kentucky's Matt McKinney struck out, but reached first on a wild pitch when a breaking ball in the dirt by Hogs reliever Chris Rhoads got by catcher Brian Walker. That would've been the second out and the inning would've been over when John Shelby popped out to right.

Instead, the flood gates swung wide open for the Wildcats as they scored four runs to snap a 4-all tie and take control of the game. Consecutive RBI singles by Shaun Lehmann, Ryan Wilkes, Antone DeJesus and Collin Cowgill provided the scoring in the inning against three Arkansas pitchers.

Sean Coughlin would put the game even further out of reach when he led off the eighth with a solo homer to left off Hogs freshman Brett Bollman.

Kentucky reliever Matt Robinson put the first two runners aboard on a hit batsman and a walk in the seventh. He was promptly replaced by Wildcats' closer Brock Baber, who retired the next two batters before walking Blake Parker to load the bases. But Arkansas couldn't capitalize as Baber got Walker to pop up to escape the threat.

It was one of several times the Razorbacks failed to deliver with runners in scoring position. For the game, they stranded a season-high 14 runners, including seven in the final three innings.

Arkansas tied the score at 4-all thanks to a wild three-run fifth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Hollensworth hit a routine grounder right at Bertram at third. He one-hopped a throw to home that Coughlin, the catcher, couldn't handle that scored a run.

Willard followed by lining a sacrifice fly to Lehmann in left field that scored another run when Lehmann airmailed his throw to home. Backing up the plate, UK starting pitcher Aaron Tennyson then tossed the ball into right field while trying to nail Hamblin advancing to second. The Wildcats' third error of the inning allowed Hamblin to score easily.

The Hogs trailed 4-0 before scrapping for a run in the fourth when Hollensworth scored from third on a wild pitch after working a full-count walk to leadoff the inning.

UA starter Nick Schmidt wasn't sharp. The sophomore left-hander couldn't command his breaking ball for the second consecutive outing and matched a career-high by allowing four earned runs on seven hits in six innings. He also was hampered by a pair of errors.

Kentucky scored a run in the first when Coughlin blooped a two-out single over second baseman Logan Forsythe's head. It added to the lead in the third when Strieby smashed a two-run homer off the batter's eye in dead center. Strieby then bounced an RBI single over the outstretched glove of Parker at third base to push the lead to 4-0.

Errors have been the Wildcats' nemesis during SEC play. Just last weekend, 12 of the 19 runs allowed against Florida were unearned.

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