Arkansas hands Cats first loss of the season

Head Coach John Cohen knew his Kentucky baseball team was not going to go undefeated this year. But that didn't dampen his disappointment on Friday as No. 9 Arkansas beat No. 12 Kentucky 10-2 to hand the Cats their first loss of the 2007 season.

Head Coach John Cohen knew his Kentucky baseball team was not going to go undefeated this year.

But that didn't dampen his disappointment on Friday as No. 9 Arkansas beat No. 12 Kentucky 10-2 to hand the Cats their first loss of the 2007 season.

"We really performed at a very low level today," Cohen said. "I was very disappointed. I just felt like we didn't compete at the same level."

The loss snapped a school-record 19-0 win streak to start the season and ended the Cats's streak of 29 consecutive regular season home wins, which was the best in the nation.

Cohen knew Saturday's game would be a battle, especially with Arkansas sending All-American Nick Schmidt to the mound for game one. Schmidt entered Friday's game 4-0 with a 1.18 ERA. He had also had not allowed a run in 16.2 consecutive innings.

Schmidt pitched five complete innings allowing just four hits and two runs to pick up the win for the Razorbacks.

Sophomore Chris Rusin was making the first start against an SEC opponent for his career, and it certainly did not go as he would have liked.

Center fielder Jake Dugger drove Rusin's first delivery of the game over the head of Antone DeJesus for a stand-up double. With two runners on later in the first inning, Logan Forsythe belted a three-run home run to give Arkansas a lead they would never surrender.

"I just didn't do a good job of attacking the strike zone with fastballs," Rusin said. "I left a couple balls up and that hurt me. In the first inning they hit it out of the park and got up, I just had to resort to my off-speed because I couldn't get my fastball over."

Rusin threw six complete innings and a career-high 101 pitches. The sophomore gave up eight hits, four walks and seven earned runs.

"Chris just has to throw strikes," Cohen said. "When he throws strikes, he is going to be good. When he gives every single guy an opportunity to see pitches, he's not good."

After giving up four runs in a shaky first two innings, Rusin allowed just one more run in his final four innings of work. But by that time, Schmidt already had enough run support to pick up the win.

"His body tempo and his demeanor were very good after about the first 30 pitches he threw," Cohen said. "That's how it needs to be from the very start and that's what the guys who are really good can do. Schmidt didn't have his best stuff today, but he had tremendous body language and tremendous maturity."

UK (19-1, 0-1 SEC) scored a season-low two runs on just five hits. The Cats stranded eleven runners on base.

"It seemed like every single ball that they hit weakly found a hole," Cohen said, "and everything we hit found a glove. But hey that's baseball and that's going to happen."

Senior catcher Sean Coughlin ended Schmidt's scoreless inning streak at 17 innings with an RBI-single with one out in the bottom of the first. UK's other run came in the sixth inning on a bases loaded fielder's choice.

Though disappointed, Cohen believes his team will respond well to their first taste of defeat.

"I think they will respond great," Cohen said. "I know they will come out here and fight hard tomorrow."

"We just need to compete all the time and I don't think we competed at the highest level today. We are going to be fine as long as we do that. That's our mantra, that's what we have to do. We don't have the big-time facility and we don't have the 5,000 fans. What we have to do is compete at a high, high level. "

"That's why you hear a lot of enthusiasm and excitement coming out of our dugout, because we have to generate that for ourselves and we have to compete in that way. That's how it is going to be at the University of Kentucky. We are going to have to bring that lunch-pale approach every single day. And that is why I know we are going to be successful because we have the type of kids who are going to generate that type of energy."

UK and Arkansas play game two of their three-game weekend series on Saturday. Game time is scheduled for 1 p.m.

The Cats will send Andrew Albers (4-0, 2.42 ERA) to face off against Arkansas's Jess Todd (1-1, 3.71 ERA).


AllWildcats Top Stories