Arkansas fans can thank Wayne Hrozek one more time, because today, the Hogs just ran through the motions.
Ole Miss showed a LOT more heart, a LOT more hustle, and with a lot more to play for, they played nearly spotless baseball, taking the series with a 5-0 win. The win gives Ole Miss an overall mark of 35-21, 16-14 in the SEC. Arkansas drops to 38-18, 18-12 in SEC play.
The media has all noticed that Van Horn appears to be in the mood to chew out his ballclub, and I'm not one to disagree. The Ole Miss team has already finished their speech and walked back to the dugout, and Van Horn is still talking with his players. There's reason to it. Having clinched the West, and knowing they were the #2 seed in the conference, Arkansas simply took the day off today.
That is, except for 3B Logan Forsythe, who tied a school record with four stolen bases today. Otherwise, the listless Hogs let Ole Miss do whatever they wished.
WP - Brett Bukvich (7-2)
LP - Duke Welker (5-5)
Arkansas will face Alabama in the first round of the SEC Tournament. Game time is set for 10am Wednesday in Hoover. Given Georgia's sizeable lead over S. Carolina, it's likely that Ole Miss will be the #4 seed and take on the Gamecocks in the 8pm nightcap Wednesday in Hoover.
We've moved to the Van Horn timer here, and he's still going at it. No doubt about it, the Arkansas skipper is MAD. Then again, maybe this is exactly what the Razorbacks needed. The Hogs go into Hoover limping, having lost 6 of their last 9, and this team needs a fire lit under them, especially with postseason play approaching. This team needs to find itself again, and work out all the kinks now, because you don't want to be slumping come tourney time.
Van Horn is STILL going...this is incredible. Ole Miss is already getting on the bus and Van Horn is getting everything out of the system today. They JUST broke from the huddle. Van Horn reamed his team for 13 minutes after the game.
More to come later tonight, including the overall SEC tournament picture. For now though, we'll say goodbye from Baum Stadium, where Ole Miss picked up a big series win over the #10 Arkansas Razorbacks.
Winning the SEC West is one big reason why Arkansas will host a regional. The attendance figures will be the second big reason. With today's attendance of 9,508, Arkansas drew over 27,000 fans to Baum Stadium this weekend. How is the NCAA ever going to pass up giving a host site to a team that averages numbers like that?
We've just moved into the bottom of the eighth inning, with Ole Miss on top 5-0. Dallas Keuchel is warming up in the Arkansas bullpen, but the hope of many here in the press box is that James Gilbert gets a chance to pitch. Gilbert, who's a senior, will be reporting to Pensacola, FL in late June to begin his eight-year commitment with the US Navy. In fact, it'll be a few days after the last game of the CWS in Omaha, if Arkansas can make it there.
Speaking of pitching changes, Scott Bittle has headed to the mound for Ole Miss, ending the day for Brett Bukvich, who appears to be the winner after pitching seven innings of shutout baseball. However, you can't ever count Arkansas out, as last night showed us.
We're in the seventh inning stretch, and Ole Miss continues to lead the Razorbacks 5-0.
On a positive note for Arkansas, freshman LHP Stephen Richards came in for Duke Welker in the sixth and has snuffed out the Rebel offensive fire. He's pitched two innings of shutout baseball. The Razorbacks, though, still have no answer for Bukvich, who's thrown a two-hitter so far.
The Diamond Dolls are throwing Cracker Jack bags to a lot of lucky fans on the first and third base lines. They'll be working during the regionals here in Fayetteville, but for the RBI Girls, today is their last performance of the year.
While writing this post, the Hogs had two quick pop-ups. Bukvich is putting on a pitching clinic today in Fayetteville.
The good news for Arkansas is that the no-hitter bid is gone. Brian Walker led off the fifth with a double to left center, and received a standing ovation for the first good number posted on the Arkansas side of the scoreboard.
The bad news? Ole Miss is a well-oiled machine today, and they just keep adding on. Jordan Henry, who was hit by a pitch to get on base, advanced to second on a Cozart single, then to third on a sacrifice by his brother Justin, and then scored on a sac fly by Cody Overbeck.
5-0 Rebels in the top of the sixth, as Welker is about to be replaced after giving up a double to Logan Power to open off the inning.
UA-OM: Hogs Hitless Through Four, Ole Miss Rolling
It's been all Rebels so far after four innings of play.
After the very controversial Justin Henry "double", Zach Miller singled to right, scoring Henry. He would steal second, and then score on Evan Button's sizzling grounder that hopped out of Danny Hamblin's glove and into right field, giving Ole Miss a 4-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Brett Bukvich is having his way with the Hogs. He's allowed three walks, and that's been it. The Arkansas offense is currently under life support as we speak.
Justin Henry led off the top of the fourth with a ground ball that bounced foul past the first base line. We're not talking barely foul, either; it was a good 8 inches to the right of the foul line. However, umpire AJ Lostaglio called it fair, to the dismay of Arkansas 1B Danny Hamblin (who let it go, knowing it was foul), the crowd, and Dave Van Horn, who ran of the third base dugout to argue the call.
You might remember from last night that Lostaglio got in the basepath when Matt Willard was tagging from third base, bumping into him and almost causing Willard to be out at home. Had Ole Miss catcher Brett Basham not bobbled the ball, we could be talking about a whole different scenario here in the SEC.
Right now, the Arkansas AND Ole Miss media are mumbling their disgust at the umpiring for this series. Both sides feel it's been really bad this weekend.
Arkansas catcher Brian Walker launched a rocket towards the power alley in left center, but Ole Miss CF Logan Power proved to be a gifted thief. Power, going back to the wall, leaped and made a spectacular catch over the wall to rob Walker of a home run that would've tied the game.
However, Ole Miss, who definitely came to play today, heads to the top of the third with a 2-0 lead.
A good crowd today at Baum....I'm guessing we have about 8,800 right now at the park. What's amazing is how fast the 20 new skyboxes (which opened up last month) have filled up. Don't tell me baseball can't be a money-making sport in college athletics!
While Arkansas opened the scoring on Thursday and Friday, Ole Miss decided to open things off today. Duke Welker struggled with his control, and the Rebs took advantage. After Jordan Henry singled, Zach Cozart was hit by a pitch. Justin Henry bunted the runners over to second and third, and after Cody Overbeck struck out, Henry scored on a wild pitch that moved Cozart to third, and Cozart scored on a balk two pitches later.
Ole Miss pitcher Brett Bukvich started in a groove right away, wasting little time setting the Razorbacks down in order.
2-0 Rebels as we head to the second, with Welker trying to settle down.
We welcome everyone back to Baum Stadium, as the third and final game between Dave Van Horn's SEC West Champion Arkansas Razorbacks and Mike Bianco's Ole Miss Rebels. Fans are beginning to stream in, many still in shock over last night's dramatic win by the Hogs.
If this one holds up, this is got to be one of the biggest choke jobs of all time.
Zach Miller reached on a bobbled ball by Tim Smalling, and then Fuller Smith tripled down the right field line, scoring Miller, and giving Ole Miss its first lead here in the top of the 10th. Brett Basham, who took over catching duties in the eighth, pulled a successful suicide squeeze to score Smith from third, and Ole Miss carries a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the 10th inning.
Baum Stadium sounds like a morgue right now, as the fans are shellshocked at the thought of Arkansas, who was way ahead of the rest of the pack with nine games left, choking the season away.
Arkansas can't help Jess Todd out, as Ole Miss pitcher Justin Cryer gets the Hogs out in order.
Chris Rhoads is in for Arkansas, meaning that after a masterful performance, Jess Todd gets a no decision. Sometimes, baseball just isn't fair. That was the best performance I've seen by a pitcher all year from Arkansas.
We head to the 10th, with the score still 1-1. The 6-7-8 hitters (Button, Miller, Smith) are up for Ole Miss in this inning.
Woe is the word, as Arkansas AGAIN missed out on a golden chance to take the lead.
After Brad Secrist struck out, Danny Hamblin doubled down the left field line. Jacob Julius hit an infield single to second, moving Hamblin to third. Tim Smalling was hit by a pitch, bringing up Brian Walker, who grounded to first for a 3-2-3 double play to end the seventh.
Current Stat: Arkansas is now 0-for-8 in this series with a runner on third, and the fans are getting VERY restless about it.
With the strikeout of Secrist, Ole Miss pitcher Lance Lynn has tied the single season strikeout mark in the Rebel history books, with his 120th of the season.
1-1 to the eighth, as Todd and Lynn battle on here at Baum Stadium.
Arkansas and Ole Miss head to the seventh inning tied at 1-1.
Both pitchers had little trouble in the sixth. Jess Todd struck out the last two batters, giving him six strikeouts for the game. Meanwhile, Lance Lynn is definitely in a groove, having retired the last nine Razorback batters in a row.
This is what you expect when you have two of the best teams in the SEC facing off against each other. Add the crowd and atmosphere, and this has NCAA regional feel written all over it.
It was a crazy half inning of sorts here in Fayetteville.
With one out, Zack Miller doubled down the left field line. He advanced to third on a grounder to first by Fuller Smith, and scored on a scorching grounder to third by Alex Kliman, who slid into first after the ball struck Logan Forsythe's foot and rolled towards short. Forsythe made a bullet throw to first, but the ump gave it to the runner, as howls of disgust echoed from the masses here at Baum Stadium.
We're through with five innings here, and it's tied at 1-1. The big question remains as to whether Arkansas can take advantage of opportunities. Fans from here to Starkville all want to know that answer.
Brian Walker led off the bottom of the third with an infield single that bounced off pitcher Lance Lynn's rear end (that HAD to hurt), and then advanced to second on a balk. Jake Dugger sacrificed him to third, but Arkansas couldn't muster anything else. Logan Forsythe popped out to second base, and then, on a wild pitch, Walker (who's the slowest player on the field by leaps and bounds) was tagged out at home.
So far in this series, Arkansas is now 0-for-7 with a runner at third base.
The story of the second inning were the two rocket shots launched by Ole Miss batters Evan Button and Zack Miller. Button's hit the top of the right field wall and bounced in for a double, but Miller's was caught by a flying Jake Dugger as he slammed into the right center wall and the College World Series logo.
Meanwhile, while Razorback SS Tim Smalling was at bat, he sent a high foul ball that had Rebels scrambling to catch it near the dugout. Rebel catcher Alex Kliman missed the ball, but knocked down the protective netting for the Razorback Diamond Dolls and smacked one in the face, forcing her to leave the game while Hog fans applauded her, and gave Kliman a piece of their minds.
I believe the injured Diamond Doll is senior Abby Frizzell. However, sitting up high in the press box, I can't confirm that 100%. We'll get to the bottom of it though.
Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn had to be stressing aggressive play tonight, as the Razorbacks have come out with some bite. Jess Todd went after the Rebel batters in the first, striking out Jordan Henry and Zach Cozart, and then picking off Justin Henry after walking him.
Meanwhile, the Hogs showed even more aggressive play in their turn at bat. Jake Dugger and Ben Tschepikow led off with singles, but when Logan Forsythe hit a grounder to third, Dugger was thrown out at the plate. Casey Coon then singled to left, scoring Tschepikow, but Forsythe was called out trying to reach third. Coon then stole second, but Brad Secrist struck out to end the inning.
Lots of aggressive base running and pitching from the Razorbacks early tonight, and it's 1-0 Arkansas after one.
UA Public Address Announcer Larry Shank just announced that from the 3rd thru 6th innings, Arkansas fans can purchase NCAA Regional Tickets at Baum Stadium ($70.00/seat for those who want to know). That's a pretty confident move by the athletic department that Arkansas will be hosting in two weeks!
Granted, in my opinion, if Arkansas wins the SEC West, they've got it locked up. The last time a SEC West Champion didn't host a regional was....well, never.
The Hog Pen out in left field is already filling up an hour before game time, as Arkansas and Ole Miss get set for the second game of a critical three-game series that will decide who wins the SEC West. Arkansas can win the division outright tonight, while Ole Miss needs to win out and hope for Miss. State to lose for their shot at the West crown.
The theme of the night was all about missed opportunities for Arkansas. The Hogs continued to leave runners stranded (three times with runners on third base), and with a win tonight, would've clinched the SEC West outright. Unfortunately, a passed ball by Travis Hill gave this game to Ole Miss, who now will try to claim the division title as theirs. If they can beat the Hogs tomorrow and Saturday, they'll do just that.
Arkansas put the tying run on second, and the winning run on first, but Cody Satterwhite got Wayne Hrozek to pop up to second, and then struck out Casey Coon looking, and Ole Miss kept Arkansas on the losing side of things, winning 5-4 in a back-and-forth battle here at Baum Stadium.
Ole Miss is now 34-20, 15-13. Arkansas is 37-17, 17-11 SEC. The Hogs are now 2-5 in their last 7 SEC games.
WP - Satterwhite
LP - Schmidt (only the 2nd time in his career that Schmidt has lost 2 straight)
With the Ole Miss win, Vanderbilt has clinched the 2007 SEC title. Arkansas has a share of the SEC West, thanks to Miss. State, but can only win it outright with a win over the Rebels. Should Ole Miss or Miss. State tie Arkansas, the Hogs would lose the tie-breaker to either team.
More to come from Fayetteville, but tonight, 8,033 fans leave very unhappy, as Arkansas still can't shake off this slump.
Arkansas left yet another runner on third base in the eighth.
After two long fly outs by Walker and Hamblin, Jacob Julius walked and was replaced by Stephen Robison. Robison stole second, and then advanced to third as Brett Basham's throw sailed into center field. However, Tim Smalling flied out to right, and the situational hitting for Arkansas continues to suffer.
I also forgot to mention, not only does an Ole Miss win help MSU and Vandy, it helps the Rebels as well. A sweep of Arkansas gives Ole Miss a share of the SEC West crown, and the tie-breaker edge in the SEC tourney.
Nick Schmidt was taken out of the game after loading the bases, and Van Horn turned to RHP Travis Hill. On Hill's first pitch to Zach Miller though, he threw a passed ball, scoring Jordan Henry and giving Ole Miss a 5-4 lead in the top of the eighth.
There's some happy people in Nashville and Starkville right now, as a Rebel win keeps State's hopes alive for a piece of the SEC West, while the Commodores become outright SEC champions with an Ole Miss win.
Cody Satterwhite pitched the seventh for Ole Miss, and he's back on the mound in the eighth, as Brian Walker, Danny Hamblin and Jacob Julius are set to bat for Arkansas, as they try to play comeback one more time.
In a desperate move to get the go-ahead run across, Dave Van Horn sent Logan Forsythe on a delayed steal with two outs in the seventth. Forsythe, who was on third, was easily tagged out at home, and Arkansas comes up empty yet again.
Key Stat: Runners Left On Base. Arkansas has left 6, while Ole Miss has only left 1 runner on base.
We head to the top of the eighth, with Schmidt still on the mound (his pitch count is at 98, and the game still knotted at 4. Little do the Razorbacks know, but a win tonight will clinch the SEC West, as Miss. State lost to Alabama.
Arkansas had the bases loaded with just one out in the bottom of the sixth, but Ole Miss pitcher Will Kline went back to confusing the Razorback batters. First, he struck out Matt Willard with his breaking ball mastery, and then struck out Jake Dugger with a fastball that was outside the plate, but close enough for home plate umpire Paul Guillie to call him out.
Kline has 13 strikeouts for the night, but his pitch count is at 135. Justin Cryer and Cody Satterwhite are warming up in the Rebel bullpen. Meanwhile, Chris Rhoades is warming up in the Arkansas bullpen, as Schmidt returns to the mound to start the seventh.
Ole Miss managed to score a run without mustering a hit. Zack Cozart was hit by a pitch to leadoff the inning. Schmidt struck out Jordan Heny, but then balked, sending Cozart to second. Cozart would then steal third base, and score on a sac fly by Cody Overbeck to make it a 4-4 game.
Kline's pitch count is at 104 as the bottom half of the sixth begins, but there is no action from the Ole Miss bullpen. Apparently, Mike Bianco is going to stick with Kline until there is no gas left in the tank. Kline does have 11 strikeouts though after just five innings. He can't spot his fastball to save his life, but his breaking stuff has been absolutely lethal tonight.
It seemed as if Will Kiline was going to have his way tonight, but he ran into trouble in the bottom of the fifth.
Tim Smalling drew a walk, but Kline struck out Matt Willard and Jake Dugger for his 9th and 10th strikeouts of the game, respectively. However, Logan Forsythe answered with his third hit of the game for the Hogs, doubling off the left field wall, and putting runners on second and third. With Jeff Nutt in a horrendous slump, Dave Van Horn called on Wayne Hrozek to pinch hit, and Hrozek responded on a 3-1 pitch with a line drove that just found its way over the right field wall and just left of the foul pole, and the crowd went wild as Arkansas grabbed a 4-3 lead.
The last time Arkansas had a pinch-hit home run? Try April 3, 2005 (Jake Dugger vs. Auburn).
As the RBI Girls are dancing on the dugouts (to the delight of the Going Yard guys), Nick Schmidt heads back to the mound to start the sixth, holding on to a one-run lead.
Nick Schmidt had been pitching a gem, but he threw one bad pitch to Cody Overbeck, and the Rebel third baseman took advantage of it. Overbeck sent a rocket to deep left that landed in the Arkansas bullpen, and Ole Miss tied this game at 1-1. After a single up the middle by Zach Miller, Logan Power answered with ANOTHER bomb to left field, and Ole Miss has grabbed a 3-1 lead here in Fayetteville.
Dave Jorn has headed to the mound to talk to Schmidt, who really needs to settle down and get back in a groove. There are still no outs in the Rebel fifth, and with the bottom of the order set to face Schmidt, he's got to get Arkansas out of this big inning.
Arkansas continues to lead Ole Miss 1-0 after three, but Ole Miss has got to be concerned with the pitch count for Will Kline. Granted, Kline is pitching well, as he now has seven K's through three innings. However, one thing Arkansas does well is they make pitchers pitch. Van Horn is always wanting to get opponents to go to their bullpen, and Kline has thrown 59 pitches so far in the game.
Meanwhile, Schmidt is working efficiently, having only thrown 31 pitches in the game. He's painting the corners a la Greg Maddux, and it's paying off, as the Rebels are hitting a lot of ground balls and infield pop-ups.
We're seeing pitching artistry tonight at Baum Stadium...but for how long?
As Mark has stated earlier, this is a great night for watching the scoreboard, and cheers came with the news of LSU tying the game in Nashville, and Bama taking the lead on State. Right now, Arkansas is pulling for the Tigers and Tide to do their parts this weekend.
Will Kline has gotten in a strikeout groove. He struck out two more in the second inning, including the leadoff man in Danny Hamblin. Hamblin's whiff was the fourth strikeout in a row for Kline, and he's got five already through just two innings of play.
However, Nick Schmidt hasn't started too bad himself. After Cody Overbeck singled for the Rebels, Schmidt calmly struck out Zach Miller, and then got Logan Power to ground out in a 5-4-3 double play to end any chances of a Rebel threat.
A pitcher's duel so far after 2, and that's fine with Arkansas, who clings to a 1-0 lead.
As Nick Schmidt set Ole Miss down 1-2-3 in the top half of the first, Arkansas wasted no time jumping on Will Kline in the bottom half of the first. Jake Dugger walked, and then Logan Forsythe hit a shot to deep center that just got over Logan Power's head and bounced off the wall. It turned out to be a triple for Forsythe, and Dugger crossed home for the first run of the game.
However, the Hogs couldn't get Forsythe home. Jeff Nutt struck out swinging on a nasty sliding pitch that bounced in the dirt before finding the catcher's glove. Casey Coon then struck out looking at a pitch that he thought was ball four, as he was heading to first before the ump called him out. Brian Walker then struck out on the same nasty breaking stuff that Nutt did, and the Rebels escaped further damage.
3 K's for Kline, but after one inning of play, it's Arkansas up 1-0.
The last week of the regular season is upon us, and as SEC teams scramble for positions in the conference tournament, as well as NCAA Regionals, the marquis series is here at Baum Stadium, where Dave Van Horn's Arkansas Razorbacks look to capture the SEC West crown. Standing in the way are Mike Bianco's Ole Miss Rebels, who have taken 10 of the last 13 games with the Hogs.
It looked like some of the old Baum magic would come back for Arkansas.
Danny Hamblin opened off the ninth with a solo shot to left center, cutting the LSU lead to 5-3 and bringing Paul Bertuccini out of the bullpen to try and finish the game. He struck out Brian Walker, but Matt Willard got an infield single that bounced off the leg of LSU 1B Sean Ochinko's foot. With the tying run at the plate, Jake Dugger fouled off pitch after pitch, but on his 11th pitch, Bertuccini got Dugger to pop out to shallow center.
Then, Jacob Julius came up to the plate. Julius hit a bomb to right center that had the Hog fans roaring and the UA players out of the dugout...it looked gone...it seemed gone...but LSU CF Jared Mitchell jumped over the wall and made the catch as the ball was leaving the ballpark.
What was inches from a tie game ended up a 5-3 LSU victory. The Tigers improve to 28-21-1 with the win, and pick up a huge game and series win in the SEC. Arkansas drops to 36-14, and falls yet again in the SEC West. They'll need Auburn to beat Miss. State to keep a 3 game lead in the West, and they'll need a miracle comeback from Georgia to retain any lead in the overall SEC standings (Vandy leads 7-4 in the 5th at last glance).
WP - Jared Bradford (10-2)
LP - Duke Welker (5-3)
What a heartbreaker for the Hogs...in fact, that's the second game I've covered for CSTV.com where Arkansas has lost in the bottom of the 9th on a leaping catch over the wall. On the other hand, what a huge victory for a young LSU ballclub. This series will definitely open the eyes of the NCAA Selection Committee.
My thanks to the UA staff and to CSTV.com for three games of intense SEC baseball. Until later, we bid you good day from Fayetteville, where LSU has pulled off a stunning series win over the Razorbacks.
Someone will have to do some serious research to see what the national three game series record attendance is for a campus site, but Arkansas has shattered the SEC's series attendance record. Today's crowd of 9,203 gives the Razorbacks a series crowd of 29,931, breaking the old record of 29,915 by Mississippi State in 2006.
Before you ask how that can be called "shattering" a record, the MSU mark was a paid attendance figure. The Arkansas one was actual attendance....the paid attendance for this series was over 30,000.
Dallas Keuchel is in to finish things for Arkansas, who trails LSU 5-2. A deflated crowd is beginning to leave, sensing this could be only the second series loss for the Razorbacks this year. Meanwhile, what a huge momentum boost this could be for the Tigers, as they head down the stretch in SEC play.
LSU's Buzzy Haydel hit a single to left field, and Chris McGhee came sprinting home, but was called out at home, sending Tiger Coach Paul Mainieri out of the dugout to argue, while the crowd roared and began to call the Hogs. It looked like Arkansas was about to get a much needed boost of momentum.
The exact opposite happened though, as LSU C Robert Lara smoked a double down the left field line, scoring two runs and pushing the Tiger lead to 5-2 as we are now into the seventh inning stretch here in Fayetteville.
Arkansas has only lost one SEC series this season, and this is definitely not the time to be losing its second. Meanwhile, the LSU dugout is hopping, with fives being slapped and howls of delight echoing through what is a shellshocked Baum Stadium. Maybe the William Tell Overture that's being blasted over the loudspeakers will jolt the Hogs back into this ballgame.
After the continuous back-and-forth scoring in the first four innings, we've gone scoreless the last two, and LSU continues to lead Arkansas, 3-2, as we've finished six innings here in Fayetteville.
Shane Ardoin came in for Jared Bradford in the sixth. Bradford had pitched well, allowing only six hits and two runs, while walking no one. Ardoin faced some problems, as Jeff Nutt had his second double of the game, and Casey Coon walked right afterwards. However, Ardoin struck out Ben Tschepikow, and Danny Hamblin popped up to shallow center to end another Arkansas threat.
The crowd here is getting a little uneasy. It's become a pitcher's duel here, and when the home team is down, it's been a bit of a surprise to Hog fans. Arkansas is 7-0 in conference games played on Sunday this year, and they'll need some hits if they want to keep that undefeated mark.
Duke Welker's been throwing a lot of fastballs, and LSU's Blake Dean found one he liked and sent it deep over the right field fence for the first home run of the series. With the wind blowing sharply in for the first two games, home runs were impossible to hit. But the today, the wind is much calmer, and Dean has already capatilized on it.
We're heading into the fifth, with LSU now up 3-2 on the Razorbacks. Welker is still on the mound for Arkansas, with no activity in the pen. However, LSU has LHP Shane Ardoin warming up, as Bradford is on a pitch count today. Sometimes, it's great to have an ace that can be used as a reliever. However, with the way Bradford's been pitching, it could come back and hurt the Tigers.
Sean Jones was getting cheers, as he not only got an infield single, but advanced to second on Sean Ochinko's errant throw to the pitcher, who was covering first base.
A pitch later, Jones was picked off at second, and the look on Dave Van Horn's face could've sent Jones to the lockers at that very moment.
However, Jones's teammates came through for him. Logan Forsythe singled to right, and then Jeff Nutt followed with a double to left center field, scoring Forsythe and tying the game 2-2 as we head to the fourth.
After giving a terrific rendition of the national anthem, PA announcer Larry Shank announced the three umpires for the game, and boos are STILL being directed at Larry Short, who was the home plate umpire in yesterday's game. Short called Razorback RF Sean Jones back after being hit by a pitch, and then promptly threw out Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn for arguing the call.
Good crowd today as we get underway. This one won't be over 10,000 (given it's Sunday and people are just coming back from church), but it's still a very good showing here at Baum today.
As I'm sitting in the press box, with an hour to go before the rubber match between Arkansas and LSU, I'm reminded of the long road it's taken this Arkansas program to make college baseball as big as it is today. It's been quite a remarkable story of progress in Fayetteville.
Jess Todd pitched an incredible game, but due to pitch count, he had to be replaced by Travis Hill with just one out left, and LSU having runners on second and third. Hill got Chris Jackson to fly out to right center field, and the Arkansas players ran out of the dugout happy, having tied this series at a game apiece with a dominating 5-0 win over the Tigers. It is the FIRST EVER shutout of LSU by the Razorbacks in school history.
Finally, after 7 1/2 innings of defensive baseball, the bats woke up, and to the delight of the crowd here, they woke up in the hands of Arkansas hitters. After Jake Dugger singled, Matt Willard hit a grounder to LSU SS Michael Hollander, who bobbled it before throwing it past the first baseman, sending Dugger to third and Willard to second. Brian Walker followed with a perfectly laced double to right center, scoring two, and then Walker would score on a triple by Ben Tschepikow down the right field line, which sent the crowd into bedlam.
Todd is back on the mound to try and finish what he started in the ninth, with Arkansas now up 5-0, and just three outs away from re-claiming a piece of the SEC overall lead.
Mark, I've got over 10,000 fans here who are screaming for Tennessee to beat Ole Miss right now!
It wasn't pretty, but with the bases loaded, Arkansas managed to push their lead to 2-0 when a routine grounder to first by pinch-hitter Jacob Julius was bobbled by LSU's Jordan Mayer, scoring Matt Willard from third base. The Hogs still had the bases loaded, but Casey Coon struck out to end the inning.
The RBI Girls are again up and dancing, and even the LSU coaches are stopping to pay attention to their routine right now as we head to inning number eight. Jess Todd, whose pitch count stands at 110, is still on the mound for the Hogs.
The RBI Girls are dancing to the Grease song "You're The One That I Want", as we've concluded five innings of play, with #7 Arkansas still clinging to a 1-0 lead.
The Hogs have had their chances, especially in the last inning. Brian Walker singled to right, and then, in a move that matches a solar eclipse in its rarity, Walker stole second base. How rare was it? The last time he stole a base was March 10, 2006 against Cal-State Northridge. That was good enough for a huge standing ovation from the crowd.
However, after Ben Tschepikow walked, Forsythe couldn't get the runners home, popping out to shallow center to end the threat. It seems as if the same Razorbacks are in the critical positions every time lately. How many times have the names Tschepikow and Forsythe been mentioned today?
Both Jess Todd and Charlie Forbush are pitching gems, but pitch count is becoming a concern. Todd's pitch count was at 87 after five innings, while Forbush was at 90. Nolan Cain is warming up for the Tigers, but no action is coming out of the Arkansas bullpen so far.
We've finished three innings here at Baum Stadium, and Arkansas continues to hang on to a 1-0 lead.
The star of the game has been Jess Todd, who's struck out six Tigers already. LSU got two hits on him in the third, but the Hog D came through, first picking off Chris Jackson while trying to steal second, and then with a great stop by Ben Tscepikow on a bouncing ball to right.
The Hogs have matched their hit count from yesterday (4), but they haven't been able to bring runners home. They had a big chance in the bottom of the third, when Tschepikow started a two-out rally with a single to right. He then stole second, and advanced to third on an infield hit by Logan Forsythe. However, Jeff Nutt struck out looking, and the chance for early insurance was denied for the Razorbacks.
The crowd was a little late in arriving, but it's definitely a full-house now, and rumors of another record crowd are circling once again in the press box as we start the fourth inning from Fayetteville.
Arkansas hitting coach Todd Butler is coaching from the third base box, and he and home plate ump Larry Short had a few words, as Short's calls have been the spark that has ignited a furious reponse from everyone wearing red today (and believe you me, that's quite a few people).
The Hogs did manage to grab a run in the first inning. After Jones walked, Ben Tschepikow singled to left center field, and Logan Forsythe brought him home on a fielder's choice. It's the first lead for Arkansas in the series. The Hogs also did a great job on LSU's Charlie Forbush. Playing the patient strategy, Arkansas made Forbush throw 24 pitches in the opening inning.
Meanwhile, hope is starting to spring for Arkansas fans, as Georgia is just an out away from beating the top-ranked Commodores. Can Arkansas get back into first place in the SEC? We've got eight innings to find out.
This will go down as one of college baseball's great tirades...and it happened in the first inning.
Charlie Furbush absolutely NAILED leadoff batter Sean Jones with a fastball to the right shoulder, and Jones was on his way to first when head umpire Larry Short called Jones back, saying that Jones didn't try to avoid being hit. This, of course, sent Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn into hysterics, as he sprinted to home plate to argue the call. Van Horn repeatedly was yelling "That's bullcrap!" to the ump, getting right in his face, saying "Are you going to call this all night? NO WAY BABY!". The ump continued to argue back until Van Horn dropped the F-bomb, and that was that.
It's about 15 minutes to the first pitch, and already the Arkansas players are doing something I've never seen them do. The players, gathered in left field, lined up with a bat in everyone's hands, working on their swings while the UA coaches studied and gave pointers.
No doubt, the message of offensive strength is being sent through the Arkansas dugout.
Meanwhile, LSU looks pretty relaxed out in right field...knowing they have two chances to pick up the series win.
Home runs will not be an emphasis today...the wind is blowing sharply in, meaning it'll take a monster hit to get anything out of the park. Clouds are rolling in, which has kept things cool, but also brought a threat of rain...and maybe chased a few fans away from today's game. What was projected two hours ago to be a potential record crowd seems to be dropping by the minute.
Still a great crowd though...we've got at least 7,500 here and the game hasn't started.
It's the first Saturday in May, known as Derby Day in the sports world, and while the most famous horse race takes place at Churchill Downs, we've got another record crowd in the forecast here at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville, where Arkansas tries to get back to the top in the SEC's own horse race of a baseball season.
UA-LSU: Tigers Re-Claim Lead, Last Chance for Hogs
Just as Arkansas was enjoying the feeling of being back in the game, LSU responded, and now sit three outs away from pulling off a big win here tonight.
Chris Jackson singled up the middle, sending home Chris McGhee and giving the Tigers a 6-5 lead as we head to the bottom of the ninth. He didn't score without some controversy though...Dave Van Horn came out to argue the call, as it didn't look like McGhee touched home plate, but rather slid behind it. Home plate ump Jeff Head disagreed, and now it's do-or-die for the Razorbacks.
Going into tonight, the all-time record crowd at Baum Stadium had been 10,027. On that day, Arkansas defeated Florida State 4-2 to advance to the 2004 College World Series.
Thanks to adding seats down the first and third base lines, putting six rows of seats behind the bullpen in left field, and adding 20 new skyboxes (bringing the total to 34), Arkansas has broken the all-time record with an actual attendance of 10,147.
Not counting neutral site games, can any school besides Mississippi State compete with that???
We've completed eight innings of play, with the game still knotted at 5. LSU had a serious chance to score, as Buzzy Haydel doubled to start the inning, then advanced to third on a pop-up. However, Travis Hill entered the game to pitch, and he promptly struck out the next two batters to snuff out the LSU rally.
Even when they aren't playing 100 percent, good teams always give themselves a chance to win.
Arkansas is a good team. Thanks to Casey Coon, the Hogs have a chance to win this game, and the sellout crowd here is clapping and cheering for their Razorbacks (as well as the RBI Girls, who are performing their routine on the dugouts as we speak).
Want to sum up this game after six innings of play?
For a team that's been averaging nine runs in the last two weeks (and eight games), the Razorbacks have been shut down tonight by Ryan Byrd. Byrd is pitching the game of his life, shutting down the Arkansas attack and giving LSU a chance to pull off a huge win in front of a huge crowd here at Baum Stadium.
Nick Schmidt has kept the Hogs in it. In fact, take those two hits away from LSU in the second inning, and Arkansas is up 2-0 in this game. However, Schmidt is approaching 100 pitches for the game...leaving Van Horn in the tough dilemma as to whether he keeps his ace on the mound or goes for a reliever.
LSU's thrown several guys in the bullpen (Cain, Bertuccini, and Bradford), but so far are sticking with the red-hot Byrd.
For a second, it looked as if Arkansas was going to break through.
They had Ben Tschepikow (in for Tim Smalling) at second, and Sean Jones at first. LSU, sensing a momentum swing, had Nolan Cain warming up in the bullpen.
However, the Arkansas threat came up short. Logan Forsythe flied out to the warning track in left, and Casey Coon popped up to shallow center, ending the chance to put the home team on top.
We've finished five innings here in Fayetteville, and Arkansas still trails 3-2.
On a lighter note, tonight is free t-shirt night here at the stadium. The shirt giveaway was sponsored by Pagnozzi Charities, a local charity that was founded by former Arkansas and St. Louis Cardinal catcher Tom Pagnozzi. The charity assists in giving all kids in Northwest Arkansas the chance to play youth sports.
We're headed to innning number five, with LSU leading #7 Arkansas 3-2.
Here's the update on what we've been watching....
Jake Dugger is playing well defensively so far, but he's 0-2 at the plate. Then again, most all of the Hogs are 0-2 tonight...Ryan Byrd is pitching superbly for the Tigers right now.
Brian Walker, who's hit a homer in his last four games, is also hitting the big bagel tonight.
Schmidt has six strikeouts after four innings, while Byrd has three.
SIDE NOTES: With a fly out to left field in the fourth, Arkansas 1B Danny Hamblin broke the school record for career at-bats, with 881.
Attendance figures continue to climb...we're hearing reports of possibly over 9,000 here tonight in the stadium. Judging the crowd right now, that would not surprise me.
Vandy defeated Georgia 8-5 on a three-run double by de la Osa in the 9th inning. That, coupled with a 2-1 Ole Miss lead right now, adds a lot of pressure on Arkansas to come from behind and win this game.
Arkansas might be ranked #7 in the nation, but it's LSU that has drawn first blood in a big way. Nick Pontiff's single to right field, coupled with Chris Jackson's double that was just BARELY fair down the left field line, has LSU up 3-0 on the Razorbacks after two innings of play.
It's a great night for a game, and there are a lot of Arkansas fans who agree. Looking at the crowd right now, I'd say we've got 8,700 at the stadium tonight. That's a very good crowd to open off the series, given that Arkansas didn't play in front of 8,700 in three combined games down in Auburn.
Schmidt has two strikeouts already after the first, but he hasn't been able to get them easy. The home plate ump tonight is giving a VERY small strike zone tonight. In fact, Schmidt threw five straight balls to open the game.
After one inning of play, we're scoreless in Fayetteville.
It's 40 minutes before the first pitch, and several thousand fans have already filed into Baum Stadium, anticipating the first game of a SEC showdown between #7 Arkansas and LSU. Both teams come into this weekend with something to prove, and we should have a huge crowd here tonight for the series opener.
They can't all be classics. After watching Vanderbilt beat Ole Miss in ten innings Friday evening in one of the best games of the season, a trip to Lexington could have merited the same result. But instead of hitting Rupp Arena for two down-to-wire NCAA hoops games, the target was Cliff Hagan Stadium where Kentucky beat Arkansas 7-5 in a game that went four hours and fifteen minutes (without playing the bottom of the ninth), saw Kentucky walk 13 batters and Arkansas leave 17 men on base while committing five errors. To call it sloppy would be giving it too much credit.
We are at the four hour mark at Cliff Hagan and Kentucky leads 7-4. We are in the top of the ninth and baring a Razorback comeback, this one will mercifully end.
Arkansas has played their worst game of the season. Here are some numbers
17 men LOB
5 Errors and misplayed several other plays not credited as errors
Walked five including one with the bases loaded in the seventh
Catcher repeatedly throws the ball into centerfield on the return to the pitcher
If it is not good, please let it be quick. It has been neither.
Kentucky on the other hand, jumped out early and cruised. They have eleven hits and four Wildcat arms have kept Arkansas at bay.
The Hogs are prolonging this beauty with two on and no outs. The tying run is at the dish in pinch-hitter Brian Walker.
This is my first trip to Cliff Hagan Stadium in Lexington. I have been to all the SEC baseball stadiums now and the Wildcats have a pretty nice park. It isn't overly large -- capacity is 3000 - with most of the seats in the grandstand behind the plate. They did squeeze in 3529 last year for the Regional opener.
A new deck has been built in right-center and a mini-monster was erected in right. Commonwealth Stadium is seated just to the right, which is nearby to the proposed new stadium, a 4,000 seat showcase facility on a site just off Alumni Drive.
Thirteen men left on base and nine strikeouts for Arkansas through six innings. Baseball SID Josh Maxson says the school record for LOB is 19 and within reach.
Kentucky leads 6-4 in the sixth although many in the pressbox have been following Ohio State's miracle comeback win over Xavier across town. Any chance I had to run across town for the second game at Rupp Arena has disappeared with our three-hour duration through six innings. We're on pace for four and a half hours.
After four innings, Arkansas has stranded nine runners. After a run scored in the fourth, the Razorbacks loaded the bases off Scott Green. Kentucky brought in sidewinder Brock Baber to face pinch-hitter Ben Tscepikow. Tscepikow smoked a rocker right back to Baber who started a 1-2-3 DP to end the threat.
In the middle of the fourth, the Wildcats lead 6-2.
After scuffling for runs yesterday, Kentucky jumped out early with three in the first and two in the second off Razorback starter Jess Todd. Jason Kipnis hit his fourth homer of the season and the Wildcats took advantage of some Arkansas defensive mistakes for the early lead.
The Hogs scored one on the first on a check swing single by Wayne Hrozek. They've stranded seven runners through three innings - that's tough to do.
UK starter Andrew Albers was removed in the second with an apparent blister. He was replaced by Scott Green, who has allowed just one run all season in 10 innings.
Sure, there is some hoops tournament going on over at Rupp, but we've got two top 25 teams waging contest today at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Arkansas beat Kentucky 10-2 last night to snap the Wildcats' 19 game winning streak.
Today, John Cohen's Cats figure to be fired up and ready to go. The weather is bright and sunny but in high 30s with a 15 mph wind blowing out to the left.
Andrew Albers (4-0/2.42) starts for UK. Jess Todd (1-1/3.71) goes for UA.
I was informed by the SID that I was not allowed to post the score of the game as long as it was going. That's why I sidestepped it by saying which team (in this case, always Arkansas) was up by how many runs. But now that the game is over, it's time to post some scoring in this place!!
Arkansas took the lead in the second, and never looked back, cruising to a surprisingly easy 10-2 win over Oral Roberts. Four pitchers saw action for the Razorbacks tonight, including RHP Chad Pierce, who pitched a full inning for the first time this season.
The Hogs move to 14-5 on the season, while ORU drops to 7-9.
Fayetteville: Robison Pouring Salt in ORU's Wounds
He can run, he can make incredible catches, and now, Stephen Robison decided he could hit tonight too. Robison aboslutely CRUSHED a pitch from new ORU pitcher Carlos Luna into the Left Field Lounge, and Arkansas is now up seven and cruising towards its 14th win of the season.
The seventh inning has been fantastic for the Arkansas Razorbacks. ORU had two men on and the tying run at the plate with two outs, and Brian Van Kirk hit a bomb to deep center field, but Stephen Robison, who replaced Jacob "Orange" Julius (Hrozek moved to RF), managed to run the ball down at the wall, saving the three run lead for the Hogs.
Everyone here in the Baum Stadium press box thought that ORU would bring Chris Ashman to the mound to start against Arkansas tonight. After all, Ashman beat the Razorbacks twice last year, so it was a huge shock to see Erik Crichton as the starter. Ashman is in now though, with the Hogs up by three in the "Winning Inning"...aka the bottom of the sixth.
There are some talented freshmen on this Razorback baseball team, and the one to note tonight is RF Jacob "Orange" Julius. Julius hit a rocket to left field that had a hang time of at least 12 seconds before juuuuusttttt creeping over the outstretched hand of Pat Warfle and into the UA bullpen. It's Julius's second round tripper of the season and the Hogs now have a three run lead after four, and Van Horn's still letting Welker pitch away, with Keuchel continuing to warm up.
Chances are, at the first sign of serious trouble, Keuchel will come in. But so far, Welker's having very little trouble in the fifth.
Going into tonight's game, Ben Tschepikow had five errors this season for the Razorbacks. At the pace he's going, he'll double that number by the end of the night. Tschepikow recorded his third error of the game when he muffed a slow grounder by ORU's Pat Warfle. Duke Welker, however, got Brendan Duffy out to maintain the one-run lead for the Razorbacks.
Well, it took 2.2 innings, but Duke Welker gave up his first two hits to Kelly Minissale and Brian Van Kirk, and ORU has trimmed the Razorback lead to one. Meanwhile, word going around in the press box is that Welker is on a 70-pitch count, and he's at exactly 50 right now, so I expect the top of the fourth to be the last inning for Welker.
Arkansas scores twice in the bottom of the second, thanks to singles by freshman shortstop Tim Smalling and junior second baseman Ben Tschepikow, who's obviously feeling a lot better getting that hit after his two errors in the top of the inning. The fans are now glued to the JumboTron for the Sooie Shuffle.
Duke Welker has yet to yield a hit, but ORU tied the game nevertheless, as Ben Tschepikow has committed errors on back-to-back plays. No doubt this is a huge thorn in Dave Van Horn's side, as Van Horn is a no-nonsense coach who goes crazy over basic errors.
Catcher Jeff Nutt is not related to Arkansas Coach Houston Nutt, but the fans don't care, so long as he drives in runs for the Hogs. Nutt's single to left center has driven in the first run of the game, as Crichton seems rattled.
It's a warm, sunny late afternoon here in Fayetteville, and what better place to be than in Baum Stadium, where the #9 Arkansas Razorbacks are getting set to host Oral Roberts in a non-conference showdown!