Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
Hogs stray from No. 1 script, fall
Arkansas pitcher Trent Daniel fires a pitch in the second inning of Sunday afternoon's game against Western Illinois at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas’ stay at No. 1 in some of the baseball polls might not last long after the Razorbacks got shaky starting pitching and defense and dropped a 7-5 decision to Western Illinois in front of an announced crowd of 5,833 at Baum Stadium on Sunday.
The Leathernecks (1-2) jumped on Arkansas left hander Trent Daniel for 6 runs, 3 earned, in his 3 1/3 innings, capitalizing on three errors in a decisive fourth inning to score three runs and take a 6-3 lead.
Arkansas’ Tyler Spoon and Joe Serrano both went 3 for 4, and Brian Anderson had two doubles and drove in three runs as the Razorbacks outhit the visitors 11-9.
Arkansas (2-1) did not commit an error when outscoring Western Illinois 16-3 in the first two games of the series, but the small-ball Leathernecks found some holes in a patchwork Arkansas lineup.
Their fourth-inning rally began with a drag bunt toward first on which Erik Maki just eluded Daniel’s tag, and the Leathernecks had successful sacrifices on bunts early in each of their run-scoring innings.
“We tried to play some different people, got a couple of guys hurt, tried to rest a catcher, moved some guys around today and boy, it kind of backfired,” Coach Dave Van Horn said.
“I’ll take the loss completely today,” said Daniel, who allowed Steve Kedrosk’s two-run single in the first inning and gave up eight hits. “I got us off to a bad start and it’s hard, when our offense is trying to keep scoring and I keep going out and I don’t throw up a scoreless inning or something like that.”
Arkansas rallied to tie it 2-2 in the bottom of the first against 6-7 right-hander Mason Pingel (1-0). Spoon drove in Matt Vinson, who had led off with a single, and Anderson sent a drive to the warning track in left for his first double.
Western Illinois reclaimed the lead in the second when No. 9 hitter Zach Burling led off with a single, advanced on a sacrifice and an infield single and scored on catcher Jean Ramirez’s passed ball.
“We tried to ... put a little pressure on the defense,” said Western Illinois Coach Ryan Brownlee, who posted his first career victory. “Arkansas did a good job the last two days of putting a lot of pressure on us and we didn’t handle it. … After the last two days, I would’ve said this is a long shot.”
Arkansas tied it 3-3 in the third when Vinson led off with a walk, was bunted to second by Jacob Morris and came home on Spoon’s single to left.
“I’d rather have a bad day at the plate and win the game than have a great day at the plate and lose a game,” Spoon said.
The Razorbacks’ defense faltered in Western Illinois’ three-run fourth.
Maki was at second with one out when Brent Turner lashed a single to left. Vinson, Arkansas’ left fielder, appeared to have time for a play at the plate but he hopped twice before unleashing a throw that hit Maki, who scored, on his right shoulder.
Dan Dispensa singled Turner to third, then shortstop Brian Anderson couldn’t cleanly field Jameson Henning’s tough-hop grounder, allowing the second run of the inning to score. Moments later, Western Illinois attempted a hit and run, but there was a swing and a miss, setting up a play at third. But Ramirez’s throw sailed over Willie Schwanke’s head, allowing Dispensa to trot home and make it 6-3.
“On a hit and run they swing and miss and we have a runner thrown out by 15 feet and throw the ball up and into left field and it really changed the inning,” Van Horn said.
The score remained 6-3 until the seventh. Henning singled off reliever Brandon Moore to open the inning and moved to third on a sacrifice and a grounder. Travis Stafford drew a two-out walk, putting runners on first and third. Moore had Stafford picked off at first, but his throw to second baseman Jacob Mahan was high, allowing Henning to score before Stafford could be tagged, giving Western Illinois a 7-3 lead.
“They did something today that they didn’t do Friday or Saturday,” Brownlee said of Arkansas. “They gave us some free bases. In college baseball, if you don’t give the other team free bases you’re not going to score.”
Arkansas left runners on in the fourth and fifth and two runners on in the sixth before breaking through against the Leathernecks’ bullpen in the seventh. Vinson and Spoon walked and scored on a double by Anderson. .
The Razorbacks got a one out runner in the eighth on Schwanke’s single and a lead off walk in the ninth by Morris, but couldn’t score against Brian Loconsole, who picked up a save.
Moore allowed 1 hit, 1 walk and 1 run in 5 2/3 innings of relief to give the Razorbacks a chance.
“He gave us every opportunity to get back in that game and win it,” Van Horn said.
The Razorbacks return to action on Tuesday against New Orleans for the opener of a two-game series, with both games starting at 3:05 p.m.
NEW ORLEANS AT ARKANSAS
WHEN Tuesday 3:05 p.m.
WHERE Baum Stadium, Fayetteville RECORDS Arkansas 2-1; New Orleans 0-3 RADIO Razorback Sports Network, which includes KABZ-FM, 103.7, Little Rock; KQSM-FM, 92.1, Fayetteville; KURM-AM, 790, Bentonville-Rogers; KASR-FM, 92.7, Conway; KHGG-FM, 103.1, Fort Smith; KELD-FM, 106.5, El Dorado; KOMT-FM, 107.5, Mountain Home. Not all games will be carried by affiliates. Check local listings.
PITCHING MATCHUP New Orleans TBA; Arkansas: Colin Poche (freshman LHP).
SHORT HOPS Arkansas out-hit Western Illinois 30-20 over the weekend. … New Orleans was swept at home by Southeast Missouri and outscored 24-7 over the weekend. … The Privateers have a 2-0 all-time record against Arkansas. … Arkansas infielder Dominic Ficociello missed the opening weekend with a strained oblique and is questionable this week. … Freshmen Poche and Trey Killian are the scheduled starters for Arkansas in the mid-week series.
… Arkansas sophomore right-hander Colby Suggs, who has a strained oblique muscle, is targeted for a return during the series against New Orleans.
TUESDAY vs. New Orleans 3:05 p.m.
WEDNESDAY vs. New Orleans 3:05 p.m.
FRIDAY vs. Evansville 3:05 p.m.
SATURDAY vs. Evansville 1:05 p.m.
SUNDAY vs. Evansville 1:05 p.m.
Sports, Pages 17 on 02/18/2013