Arkansas Finds A Way

FAYETTEVILLE — As Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn huddled with his baseball Razorbacks following a wild and wacky, 9-8 extra-inning win against Illinois State in the Sunday series finale at Baum Stadium, there were no pats on the back, no cheers of joy and certainly no rah-rah celebration.

Sure, the No. 5-ranked Razorbacks were glad to have another victory under their belt. Just not happy with the way they got it.

"Really, you take away Friday's game, we got outplayed," Van Horn said. "(Illinois State) put together some consecutive innings offensively and more good innings on the mound. "It was just disappointing the way it went."

Sunday appeared to be headed towards total disappointment for the Diamond Hogs.

After pitching woes led to a 12-10 loss Saturday, the Arkansas staff struggled again in the series finale, handing the Redbirds (2-4) a 7-0 lead in front of a crowd of 2,538 at Baum through the top of the seventh inning as starter Dallas Keuchel and relievers Chris Rhoads and Evan Cox were in a generous mood against the Illinois State lineup.

But just when things appeared to be at a low point, the Razorbacks rallied.

Nearly unhittable through the first six innings, Redbirds hurler Luke Baugham was finally touched up on a Logan Forsythe home run in the bottom of the seventh.

Then in the eighth inning, the floodgates finally opened as Arkansas (9-3) sent 12 batters to the dish, scoring seven runs to take an 8-7 lead.

Brian Walker — who started the seventh inning rally when he was hit by and pitch and then wrapped it up with a go-ahead single — would later cap off the win in the 10th inning, reaching on throwing error by Redbirds first basemen Jesse Griswold which allowed Brad Secrist to score the game-winning run.

Still, Walker and his teammates knew how fortunate they were Sunday.

"We wish we would have came out and played a heck of a lot better, but this showed us what we're capable of as a team," Walker said. "This is what it's like in the (Southeastern Conference) and yeah, we didn't have our best stuff, but we've just got to continue to work to get better in all facets of the game."

Despite taking two of the three in the series — and avoiding their first nonconference series loss at home since the 2002 season — the Razorbacks clearly weren't happy campers. At the very least, Arkansas still knows a win is always better than a loss.

"They really outplayed us (Saturday and Sunday)," senior Jake Dugger said. "We've definitely got to come and play better and more consistently.

"Our pitchers have to throw more strikes. We've got a lot better pitching staff than what they're showing, and we've also got to swing it more consistently. So yeah, there's some negatives that we showed but the positive is that we still won two out of three and we showed a lot of heart coming back and winning this last one."

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