Andrew Hutchinson has been a multimedia reporter for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2014.
South Alabama Sweeps Doubleheader
Arkansas baserunner Michael Bernal is forced out at second base by South Alabama short stop Drew LaBounty in the 4th inning of the first game of Saturday's doubleheader at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE After scoring 12 runs in the first game of the series, Arkansas couldn't solve South Alabama's pitching Saturday at Baum Stadium.
The No. 24 Razorbacks lost 2-1 and 5-3 to the Jaguars. Arkansas had entered the day undefeated.
South Alabama's Locke St. John tossed 116 pitches in 8 1/3 innings and allowed only one run on eight hits in the first game. He also struck out three batters and walked two.
“I was very comfortable out there today,” St. John said. “Today I just had it.”
Arkansas threatened to score in the second inning after Michael Bernal led off the inning with a double, but he was thrown out at home trying to score from second on Joe Serrano's bunt single.
“We’ve got to do a better job in some situations,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “We ran ourselves out of [that] inning.”
The Razorbacks outhit the Jaguars 8-5 in the first game but couldn't string any hits together. They left seven runners on base.
South Alabama got on the board in the fifth inning on a RBI single by Cameron Cummings. The Jaguars added a run in the seventh after an Arkansas error extended the inning.
Arkansas got the potential game-winning run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth but managed to plate only one run on Brett McAfee’s sacrifice fly. Blake Baxendale flew out to center to end the game.
Chris Oliver struggled with his command, but earned a no decision while pitching five innings and allowing one earned run on four hits.
Zach Jackson took the loss for the Razorbacks. The freshman allowed an unearned run despite allowing no hits in two innings of work.
In game two South Alabama held on to a 5-3 victory despite a late rally by Arkansas.
Kevin Hill, the Jaguars' starter, pitched into the ninth inning, throwing 126 pitches and allowing three earned runs on seven hits. He was pulled after he allowed the first two Razorbacks to reach base in the bottom of the ninth.
KJ Wilkerson scored on a sacrifice fly by Andrew Benintendi to pull Arkansas within 5-3, but the Razorbacks couldn't get any closer. Serrano's infield single loaded the bases with two outs and represented the game-winning run, but Brian Anderson flew out to right field to end the rally.
“We had our opportunities, but [Hill] got us to chase some balls down in the zone with runners on,” Van Horn said.
Arkansas' other two runs came in the fifth inning on Tyler Spoon's 2-run triple.
Runners left on base were the story again in game two. The Razorbacks stranded nine runners, including six in scoring position.
One reason Arkansas couldn’t push many runs over the plate was because it hit several fly outs, as 21 of the Razorbacks’ 52 outs in the doubleheader came on balls caught in the air.
“They didn’t make too many mistakes, and when they did, we put the ball in the air,” Spoon said. “We put the ball in the air way too many times. We just didn’t have any timely hits today.”
Trey Killian made his first start of the season after being suspended for Arkansas' first two weekend series. He didn't allow any runs until the third inning but didn't make it to the fourth.
The Jaguars scored four earned runs on five hits off the sophomore in the third inning. Killian was pulled after throwing 62 pitches in 2 2/3 innings.
South Alabama added a run in the fifth inning on Arkansas’ third error of the game and fourth of the day. The error by McAfee would have ended the inning.
The Razorbacks' bullpen was forced to pitch at least six innings for the third consecutive series finale. Colin Poche, Jackson Lowery and Landon Simpson combined to allow four hits, three walks and one unearned run in 6 1/3 innings.
“The positive of the day was some of the young pitchers,” Van Horn said. “I made the comment after the game that they’re moving up the ladder.”
Despite inclement weather in the forecast, Arkansas is scheduled to play next against IPFW on Monday.