Washington State 10, Arkansas 7
FAYETTEVILLE - Washington State's bats got hot Sunday afternoon and they didn't cool down with the evening air.
After overcoming a five-run deficit to eliminate Kansas State earlier in the day the Cougars continued their offensive onslaught by downing Arkansas 10-7 Sunday night at Baum Stadium to force a winner-take-all regional final against the Razorbacks Monday at 7:05 p.m.
"I hate to say it, but it was a typical Arkansas-Washington State game except we came out on top this time," said Washington State coach Donnie Marbut, whose team snapped a five-game losing streak over the last two seasons to the Razorbacks. "I just sat and watched today, 18 innings where we wouldn't give in."
Washington State (37-21) never trailed in the game and led 7-1 after a five-run fifth inning.
After going 2 2/3 innings in a start against Kansas State earlier in the day, Cougars pitcher James Wise started again against the Razorbacks, pitching three scoreless innings and striking out three batters.
It was a nice comeback for Wise after giving up six runs on seven hits earlier in the day and leaving in line for the loss.
"He'd thrown 65 pitches (against Kansas State) and we can usually get 110 out of him," Marbut said. "He wanted the ball.
"I'm proud of everybody. There are two things you can't teach and that's attitude and effort. You've seen that in the last two games."
Arkansas (42-19) responded to the Washington State fifth inning with a mid-inning rally of its own. Monk Kreder's two-out, two-run double cut the deficit to 7-3 in the bottom half of the fifth.
The Razorbacks continued to chip away at the lead thanks to the long ball. James McCann and Collin Kuhn each hit solo home runs in the sixth inning and Kreder added a solo home run in the seventh to pull the Razorbacks within 7-6.
Through four games in this regional Arkansas has hit 14 home runs. Kuhn has four of those home run and McCann has three.
While the bats did their part to get the Hogs back in the game, relief pitcher Christian Kowalchuk was doing his best to take Washington State's bats out of it. The left-hander accomplished his goal for the most part, going three innings in relief of starter Mike Bolsinger and striking out five batters.
In his final start at Baum Stadium it was an evening to forget for the senior Bolsinger. He went 4 1/3 innings on the mound, allowing seven runs on nine hits.
Despite their best efforts, one run was as close as Arkansas could get. The Cougars added three runs on three hits and two errors in the top of the eighth inning to push the lead back to 10-6.
Derek Jones had one of his two RBIs in the inning. His three-run home run earlier in the day had given the Cougars the lead for good against Kansas State.
Arkansas' final chance came on a two-out rally in the bottom half of the eighth. After reaching on a double, Matt Vinson scored on a Bo Bigham RBI single to cut the deficit to 10-7. That brought up Zack Cox with two runners on base but the all-SEC performer struck out against Washington State Friday night starter Chad Arnold to end the inning and end the threat.
Arnold pitched four innings in relief after throwing 113 pitches two nights earlier. He gave up three home runs but struck out five batters.
"I was just out there throwing, emptying the tank," Arnold said. "Arkansas battled the whole game."
For Arkansas, the three-hole hitter Cox and clean-up hitter Andy Wilkins finished the game a combined 1-for-9 with five strikeouts and Arkansas stranded nine runners on the night.
"We had a couple of big situations that we let things get away from us defensively," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "We did do a great job of fighting back. When you give up a five-run inning, things can snow ball. But we battled back to 7-6, then they brought in their Friday night starter and he did a pretty good job."
To make matters worse the Razorbacks were without Brett Eibner (21 home runs, 68 RBIs) who had a slight hamstring pull. Van Horn said after the game Eibner should be available for Monday's game.
Neither coach named a starting pitcher for Monday's game in the postgame news conference immediately following Sunday's match-up.
Van Horn said Friday starter TJ Forrest, Jeremy Heatley and DJ Baxendale were all options for the Razorbacks while Marbut said he would assess his options overnight.
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