Pitcher duel goes to LSU
Arkansas pitcher Trey Killian delivers a pitch during a game against LSU on Friday, April 11, 2014 at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.
BATON ROUGE, La. - Arkansas fell into a hole early Friday night at Alex Box Stadium and never climbed out as it opened a three-game series against No. 16 LSU with a 5-3 loss.
The good news for the Razorbacks is they won’t have to see LSU ace Aaron Nola the rest of the weekend.
Nola, the SEC’s leader in victories (6), ERA (0.47) and strikeouts (71) entering the weekend, was dominant again Friday night, striking out a career-high 13 and allowing 4 hits in 7-plus innings.
The reigning SEC pitcher of the year will now take a seat as Arkansas turns to junior left-hander Jalen Beeks and junior right-hander Chris Oliver, who shared with Nola the league’s most recent pitcher of the week award.
“That’s one of the best arms you’re going to see in college baseball, if not the best arm,” Arkansas second baseman Brian Anderson said of Nola. “The effort was there for us, but I think he overpowered us a little bit at some points. We took too many pitches that were close.”
Arkansas made its only mark on Nola (7-1) when Eric Fisher led off the fifth with a home run to right.
Once the Razorbacks got past Nola and into the bullpen, they cut a 5-1 deficit to 5-3 as Anderson hit a two-run double off Zac Person, who replaced Nola with nobody out in the eighth inning. LSU then turned to junior closer Joe Broussard, who walked pinch-hitter Michael Gunn to put the tying run at first but retired the next two batters.
Broussard finished with a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out Tyler Spoon to nail down his eighth save.
The Razorbacks (21-14, 6-7 SEC), who entered Friday a half-game back of third-place LSU (26-8-1, 7-5-1) in the jumbled SEC West Division, will look to even the series when Beeks faces freshman left hander Jared Poche at noon today in a game that will be televised by ESPN2.
The effort of Friday night starter Trey Killian left the Razorbacks with a full supply of rested arms in the bullpen. Killian (1-6) went all eight innings for Arkansas despite falling behind 2-0 through one inning and 4-0 through three.
“He did a tremendous job of hanging in there,” Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said.
The Razorbacks put their starter in a jam, just after Nola had used only 13 pitches (10 strikes) in a 1-2-3 first, when shortstop Michael Bernal threw past second base while trying to erase the lead LSU runner on Mark Laird’s grounder with nobody out.
The gaffe left runners at second and third with sophomore Alex Bregman due up. Bregman delivered, shooting a two-run single up the middle.
But after surrendering a two-run home run to Sean McMullen in the third, Killian held LSU in check the rest of the way.
It was 4-1 in the seventh when Arkansas’ Jake Wise singled through the left side with runners at first and second, sending freshman Clark Eagen around third, where he was caught drifting for the second out. Nola then struck out Bernal to end the threat.
“We had put together a pretty good inning there,” VanHorn said. “We had a young guy in there who just made a mistake.”
Today’s game ARKANSAS AT LSU WHEN Noon Central WHERE Alex Box Stadium, Baton Rouge RECORDS Arkansas 21-14, 6-7 SEC. LSU 26-8-2, 7-5-1 SEC TV ESPN2 RADIO RSP statewide radio network. Not all games will be carried by affiliates. Check local listings.
PITCHING MATCHUP Arkansas: Jalen Beeks (LHP, 5-2, 1.05 ERA). LSU: Jared Poche (LHP, 6-2. 2.25 ERA)
THE WEEK AHEAD TODAY at LSU, noon SUNDAY at LSU, 1 p.m.
MONDAY off TUESDAY Stephen F. Austin, 6:35 p.m.
WEDNESDAY off THURSDAY off FRIDAY Vanderbilt, 6:35 p.m.
THURSDAY’S GAME Tennessee 5, Georgia 3
FRIDAY’S GAMES LSU 5, Arkansas 3 Missouri 8, Kentucky 7 South Carolina 4, Florida 1 Georgia 4, Tennessee 1 Texas A&M 10, Vanderbilt 4 Auburn 2, Alabama 1 Mississippi 6, Mississippi State 1
TODAY’S GAMES All times Central Arkansas at LSU, noon Texas A&M at Vanderbilt, 2 p.m.
Florida at South Carolina, 3 p.m.
Mississippi at Mississippi State, 3 p.m.
Tennessee at Georgia, 3 p.m.
Missouri at Kentucky, 6 p.m.
Auburn at Alabama, 6 p.m.
SUNDAY’S GAMES Missouri at Kentucky, noon Florida at South Carolina, 12:30 p.m.
Arkansas at LSU, 1 p.m.
Texas A&M at Vanderbilt, 1 p.m.
Auburn at Alabama, 1 p.m.
Mississippi at Mississippi St., 1:30 p.m.
Sports, Pages 21 on 04/12/2014