It often pays to have a short memory.
That was the case for the Arkansas bullpen Tuesday night. Just three days removed from blowing a late lead at LSU, the relievers bounced back and came through in a big way for the No. 16 Razorbacks in a 3-2 win over McNeese State.
Senior TJ Forrest earned the win by pitching 3 2/3 innings in relief of starter Randall Fant. Forrest gave up no runs and struck out five batters while giving up five hits in his first outing since March 10.
Senior Jeremy Heatley, who gave up four runs without recording an out in the seventh inning meltdown against the Tigers over the weekend, earned his first save Tuesday night by recording the final seven outs, giving up one run and striking out three batters.
Arkansas (14-5) took a 2-0 lead in the third inning thanks to a pair of freshmen in Matt Vinson and Matt Reynolds. The newcomers led off the inning with consecutive singles off McNeese State starter Matt Clink then were moved over by Collin Kuhn.
The speedy Vinson scored from third base on a wild pitch and Reynolds scored two pitches later on a Tim Carver fielder's choice.
Making his second career appearance, the freshman Fant gave up a solo home run to Steven Irvine to lead off the bottom half of the fourth inning, prompting Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn to bring in the Louisiana-native Forrest.
Fant finished the game pitching three innings, allowing one run on three hits and struck out three batters.
Forrest (2-0) was solid in his second win of the year with the only real threat coming in the seventh inning. With Arkansas holding a 3-1 lead, Forrest gave up a hit that looked like it would score Jordan Venable from second base. Venable was thrown out at the plate, however, by the left fielder Kuhn to preserve the two-run lead.
Forrest left the game later in the seventh with runners on second and third and two outs, but Heatley got Arkansas out of the jam by striking out Jace Peterson to end the inning.
The Cowboys (8-10) added a run in the eighth when Irvine scored on a Matt Fontenot two-out RBI single to pull within 3-2. McNeese looked to put the potential leading run on but was denied with a great defensive play by Razorback third baseman Zack Cox, who bare-handed a ball that bounced past Heatley on the mound and threw out the runner at first.
Arkansas used another big defensive play to close the game. With a runner on first, Cowboys outfielder Blake Ellender hit a ball sharply to Carver at second base. Carver fielded the bouncer and stepped on second, and completed the double play by throwing out Ellender at first.
The difference in the game came when Arkansas mounted a two-out rally in the sixth. Brett Eibner started things with a two-out single and advanced to second on a James McCann walk. Eibner scored on an RBI single from Monk Kreder to give the Razorbacks a 3-1 lead.
Eibner, who hit three home runs over the weekend at LSU, finished the game 2-for-3 at the plate with a walk.
Matt Click (0-1) suffered the loss despite six solid innings on the mound for the Cowboys. He allowed three runs on six hits and struck out four batters.
Arkansas 3, McNeese State 2
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