LSU Inches Past Arkansas
Trailing by two runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Razorbacks pinch-hitter Jacob Julius sent the 9,203 fans IN Baum Stadium into a frenzy as he crushed a ball deep to right-center field. After a day of so-so pitching, poor base running and costly defense, Arkansas appeared to be saved by one big swing.
If only for those few inches.
Instead of clearing the wall, Julius' deep drive — which got caught up in the wind — was tracked down by LSU center fielder Jared Mitchell right at the wall. It was a play which defined the series, as the No. 7 Diamond Hogs came up just short, losing a 5-3 decision Sunday while also dropping the series 2-1 to LSU.
"The ball was hit about as good as you could hit it there in the ninth," Van Horn said. "We all thought it was going out. I didn't think Danny (Hamblin's) homer (to leadoff the ninth) was going out, but we thought this one was going out. So it's a little disappointing, but hopefully we can come back and learn from this.
"Just the little things (cost us), but give (LSU) credit. They played hard and played well enough to win."
While Julius did his best to at least tie things up in the ninth, Arkansas (36-14, 16-8 in the Southeastern Conference) clearly didn't do enough as a whole. Not Sunday, or for the entire weekend for that matter.
"That's the SEC for you," Hamblin said. "You come out and get everybody's best every weekend. They came out to win just like we did and we fell up short.
"Our offense really let us down this weekend. Myself, I didn't show up on Friday or Saturday and then you can't come out of Sundays and just expect to win. We've just got to regroup and come back this week and get ready for an important series at Alabama."
With Duke Welker battling through seven innings on the mound — in which he allowed four earned runs and eight hits — the Razorbacks needed more things to go right when it was their turn at the plate. But a key base running blunder by Sean Jones — which put the brakes on a potential big inning in the third — coupled with Arkansas' failure to put the leadoff man on base in seven of the nine innings on the day squashed the Diamond Hogs' hopes.
"We just didn't get it done," Van Horn said. "Earlier in the game we had some chances. Jones made a big base running mistake and tried to do something on his own and we've got our three and four-hole hitters coming up. And sure enough, base-hit double right after. But who knows, we had a chance to have a big inning there, but who knows."
As for LSU (28-21-1, 11-12-1), the series win is as big as they come, especially for a team going through a new coaching staff and a rebuilding of sorts in the entire program.
"That's the understatement of the day," Tigers first-year coach Paul Mainieri said. "You know there's no secret this isn't the most talented LSU team. But the kids play hard, they scratch and claw and we've been in a lot of close games and that helps."
Those few short inches sure helped as well.
No. 7 Arkansas at Alabama
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Friday; 4 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Sewell-Thomas Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
RECORDS: Arkansas 36-14, 16-8; Alabama 27-22, 11-13
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