Arkansas baseball starts 6-0 after sweep of Bryant – SECcountry.com
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas is the king of the crooked-number inning.
Every game the Razorbacks played against Bryant this weekend included at least one inning in which the Bulldogs fell apart. The inning, each time, cost Bryant.
Arkansas swept the three-game series on Sunday after a five-run sixth inning rallied the Razorbacks from four down and another five-run frame, the seventh, put away the Bulldogs, 16-6.
Arkansas plated 10 in one inning in the series opener Friday. On Saturday, it was an eight-run inning that propelled the Razorbacks to the win. Looking ho-hum for the first five frames on Sunday, Arkansas was helped by a Bryant mistake that would have gotten the visitors out of the inning.
Jax Biggers, with two outs and runners on first and third, hit a ball to the hole at second base. Cole Fabio got there in time and made a clean play, but his throw to first went awry and the lead runner, Grant Koch, scored. Jaxon Williams, pinch-hitting, poked a single through the right side to score Jordan McFarland and Biggers. Arkansas was suddenly down just a run.
Jake Arledge capped things. The senior right fielder took an 0-1 pitch over the left-field wall to give Arkansas a 6-5 lead.
“(Williams) got the big hit there with two outs and a runner at second and third. He didn’t try to pull that pitch,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “Obviously, it gave an opportunity for Jake Arledge to get to the plate and all of the sudden we’re four runs down, now we’re up a run. They don’t really know what hit them over there a little bit.”
The seventh inning was even worse for Bryant. Arkansas loaded the bases with nobody out ahead of an RBI groundout from McFarland and a sacrifice fly from Williams. Jimmy Titus, Bryant’s shortstop, then took it on the chin.
Arledge grounded to short for what should have been the final out, but Titus fumbled it, allowing another run to score. The next batter, Evan Lee, sent a shot right at Titus and he couldn’t handle it, either, letting in a fourth run in the inning. For good (bad) measure, Luke Bonfield grounded a third consecutive ball to Titus and he booted it as well. The cleanup hitter, Koch, stepped in with the bases loaded. He was was 4 for 4 heading into the plate appearance. A Bryant wild pitch with Koch up scored the fifth run before Koch flied to right.
Arkansas scored 5 runs on 1 hit, 3 walks and 3 errors in the seventh.
That was enough for the bullpen, which began work early after Kevin Kopps lasted just 3 1/3 innings in his second start of the season. Kopps gave up 2 runs and his reliever, Barrett Loseke, surrendered another 3 in his 2 1/3 innings as Bryant led 5-1 heading to the bottom of the sixth.
Dominic Taccolini was the beneficiary of the two big innings. The senior worked 1 1/3 innings, giving up a game-tying groundout in the top of the seventh when Bryant made it 6-6. Josh Alberius entered for Taccolini to start the eighth and sat the Bulldogs down in order.
Arkansas plated five more insurance runs in the eighth to create the final score. Biggers went 0 for 3 but scored 3 runs. Koch finished 4 for 6 with 2 runs. Arledge was 2 for 5 with a home run, 2 RBI and 2 runs scored.
Bryant committed 14 errors in the series. The Razorbacks have now started 6-0 in three of their past four seasons.
Grading the Hogs
Kopps’ outing was the same length as in his first start. He had moments but doesn’t appear to be a weekend option for the long term. His relief was no better, except Alberius. Loseke and Taccolini combined for 3 2/3 innings, allowing 6 hits and 4 runs.
The series finale was the most well-rounded of any of the three for the weekend for Arkansas. The big numbers came again in bunches like they had the previous two games, and they collected double-digit hits for a second straight game. The top of the lineup was best with each of Arkansas’ first six hitters getting at least one hit.
The Big Stick + The Arm
He worked just one inning but retired Bryant in order in the eighth. Alberius also had a strikeout in the inning.
The freshman second baseman didn’t enter the game until the sixth inning, but he was huge. Williams went 2 for 2 with 5 RBI. He has a team-high 9 RBI in 7 at-bats this season.
What’s next for Arkansas?
The Razorbacks head to Ruston, La., on Tuesday for a two-game midweek set with Louisiana Tech. Arkansas lost to the Bulldogs last season, 3-2, at Baum Stadium. Tech was picked to finish fifth in the 12-team Conference USA this season.
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