Washington State did not score after the sixth inning in any of the three games. This time, it was Christian Kowalchuk, Justin Wells and Stephen Richards putting the clamps on the Cougars down the stretch.
The UA bullpen gave up only one hit in the final 3 2/3 innings with Richards picking up the save with a perfect, five-pitch ninth inning.
Arkansas got the lead in the eighth inning with some small ball after Andy Wilkins opened with a double to the wall in right center. Collin Kuhn ran for Wilkins, then moved up on a pitch-hit sacrifice bunt by Tom Hauskey. Andrew Darr, the hero Friday night with a walk-off homer, put down a suicide squeeze bunt to plate Kuhn.
Washington State pitcher Jeremy Johnson tried for a diving catch of Darr's soft liner, and it hit the webbing. It bounced away from him as he hit the ground. It was close enough to a catch that Kuhn put on the breaks just a few feet short of the plate, but scored easily when the ball scooted away towards the first-base line. There was no play at first and Darr was credited with a single.
"It was like football, the ground caused the ball to come out," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "The pitcher almost made a great play."
The Hogs were playing for the lead run all the way in the inning. Van Horn knew that Washington State's travel plans and the time curfew meant there would probably not be any extra innings, like Friday night when Darr's homer won it.
"The players didn't know, but we were watching the time," Van Horn said. "There wouldn't have been another inning after the ninth. So we needed to get in that run or it might have been a tie."
Darr had the game-winning RBI in two of the three victories. He was just as proud of his bunt.
"To execute the bunt really feels good," he said. "Hauskey got his down. We take pride in our bunting. We are big on the little things and they paid off this weekend.
"When your number is called on the suicide, you have to get it down."
The Hogs had to do it with their bunting because the bats were cold for the most part. They were held to eight hits. Chase Leavitt, who also scored twice, was the only Razorback with two hits.
"They pitched us good," Van Horn said. "They mixed and matched us, and pitched us backwards some. That was good pitching. It was like an SEC series. We pitched well, too.
"But this is the way it is early. No one has their bats going much early. Everyone will heat up."
The Hogs used nine pitchers on the weekend with Wells and Richards each going twice.
"I can go every day," Wells said. "I don't need any (rest). I want the ball every day they'll give it to me. I'll be ready Tuesday (against Kansas). I hope our bullpen gives our team confidence. Everyone knows the last six outs in baseball are the toughest at any level. I know everyone likes to talk about our offense, but we think we are good in the bullpen."
It might be that Wells has to pitch some Tuesday. Van Horn said he's unsure of a starter for the Jayhawks.
"We'll probably have to staff it," Van Horn said. "We are short about two starters right now. Mike Bolsinger's out (with mono) and Bryan Bingham has the sore ribs. I think Bingham is getting real close (to being ready). We haven't pitched (Brett) Eibner yet, so he'll probably get two or three innings against Kansas. After that, I'm not really sure."
The Hogs didn't support the first pitcher out of the gate Sunday. Lefty Drew Smyly, redshirt freshman, gave up an unearned run in the first when Wilkins made his third error of the weekend and Smyly missed a return throw covering first.
"Smyly pitched well," Van Horn said. "We really pitched well all weekend. We looked like we hadn't played any in that first, but we settled down after that. We pitched really well in the back end all weekend."
Kowalchuk, relieving with the bases loaded in the sixth, got out of the only real jam the Hogs faced on the weekend.
"That was a big inning," Van Horn said. "When we got out of that inning with a tie, you knew we were going to win."