Misplayed Pop-Ups Prove Costly

FAYETTEVILLE — For only the third time in Southeastern Conference play, Arkansas was not credited with an error. However, three plays Hogs coach Dave Van Horn said should've been made proved costly during a 7-5 loss against Kentucky in front of 4,929 in Baum Stadium on Sunday.

All three came on pop-ups into a twisting wind that was blowing from right to left for most of the game. One came on an infield fly that allowed a runner to advance to second and eventually score in the fourth inning. But Van Horn was the most upset with two plays by normally reliable outfielders Jake Dugger and Craig Gentry that also resulted in runs.

Take away those three runs and Arkansas (27-10 overall, 8-7 in SEC play) probably sweeps Kentucky (26-10, 8-7).

"On the scoreboard, we didn't make any errors," Van Horn said. "But there were three plays in the game that cost us runs. Those little things that you might not think too much about at the time were big and could've turned the ball game around."

Kentucky was relentless in avoiding the sweep. Each time Arkansas scored, the Wildcats answered right back. But afterwards, it was Kentucky coach John Cohen bragging on the Razorbacks for their resiliency.

"They never quit," Cohen said. "The thing about Friday night (a 10-9 loss in which the Razorbacks scored six runs in the ninth), we just couldn't throw it in the strike zone. (Sunday), we had a different approach in our bullpen. We didn't want them to get in a bad rhythm. We did a lot more matchups this afternoon, but credit Dave's club. They are going to come back and they are going to play hard."

The Razorbacks trailed by as many as three runs before evening the score at 4-all. Even when things looked grim in the ninth, Danny Hamblin slammed a solo homer to give the Hogs some hope.

"We never quit. We never have," Van Horn said. "We got 13 hits. We had a chance to beat them. We just didn't get that big hit that we got the first couple of games. We hit a lot of balls hard."

After Dugger hit a solo homer to tie the score at 4-all in the seventh, Kentucky responded with a pair of runs in the top of the eighth to regain a 6-4 lead.

Michael Bertram led off the inning with a solo homer to center that Gentry slammed into the wall while trying to catch. John Shelby then doubled to right center to end reliever James Gilbert's day. Gilbert pitched well, retiring eight of the first 10 batters he faced before walking a pair in the eighth.

Shelby would score when Charley Boyce, who relieved Gilbert, gave up a bloop single to left center by Matt McKinney. Boyce then gave the Hogs a charge when he started an inning-ending double play and they tried to keep the momentum alive by putting two runners on with one out in the bottom of the eighth.

However, Kentucky went to its bullpen for the fourth time and brought in side-armed right hander Dewayne Oxford, who threw one pitch to get Logan Forsythe to ground into a double play that ended the threat.

Arkansas scratched for a pair of runs in the fifth to trim Kentucky's lead to 4-3. After Gentry reached on a one-out, infield single, Jake Dugger stroked an RBI double off the left center field wall. Dugger then advanced to third on a single by Danny Hamblin and an error before scoring on David Hum's ground out to short.

UA starter Shaun Seibert retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced before leaving some pitches up in the zone in the fourth inning of his first SEC start this season. It helped Kentucky erased an early 1-0 deficit with three runs in the inning. A double by Ryan Strieby, a single by Bertram and a triple by Billy Grace accounted for the runs.

Seibert left another pitch up, a fastball, to Kentucky nine-hole batter Ryan Wilkes, who sliced a solo homer to left center to increase the lead to 4-1 in the fifth inning. It was Wilkes' second career homer with both coming against Arkansas.

A single to right field by the next batter, Antone DeJesus, ended Seibert's outing as he was promptly relieved by Gilbert. Still, Van Horn said Seibert was solid enough to stay in the starting rotation at Mississippi State next weekend.

"Shaun Seibert, for three innings, I haven't seen anybody pitch any better than that all year," Van Horn said. "That's one thing you can take away from this weekend is we've got a rotation to build off of. He gave us a chance to win and gave us a chance to get out to a lead on a very live offensive day."

The Razorbacks came out of the gates hitting the ball on the nose in the first inning off Kentucky starter Greg Dombroski. Only one run would score, though, when Hamblin sliced a double over the right fielder's head that one-hopped to the wall to score Dugger, who reached on a one-out error.


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