COLLEGE BASEBALL:

Hogs can’t come up with timely hit

By: AUSTIN CROCHETIERE SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE
Published: Saturday, March 8, 2014
Arkansas second baseman Brian Anderson throws to first base during a game Friday, March 7, 2014 at Evans Diamond in Berkeley, Calif.
Photo by Chris Daigle
Arkansas second baseman Brian Anderson throws to first base during a game Friday, March 7, 2014 at Evans Diamond in Berkeley, Calif.

BERKELEY, Calif. - Arkansas was inches away from rallying.

The Razorbacks trailed San Francisco 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning but had runners on first and second with two outs after the Dons left the door open with a critical error and looked ready to jump at the opportunity.

San Francisco second baseman Michael Eaton had other ideas.

Designated hitter Krisjon Wilkerson drilled a 2-2 pitch from Houston Hibberd right back at the pitcher. The ball hit Hibberd’s glove but continued straight up the middle, seemingly on its way to becoming a game-tying single. But Eaton came out of nowhere to make a diving stop, and a quick flip to second base was all it took for the Dons to get out of trouble.

“The second baseman made a great play,” Wilkerson said. “The ball just didn’t bounce our way.”

A pitcher’s duel came down to a matter of inches as San Francisco defeated Arkansas 2-1 in the first game of the Cal Classic.

Starting pitcher Jalen Beeks turned in a strong performance, pitching Arkansas’ first complete game since Ryne Stanek in 2011, but the Razorbacks (7-3) were done in by a lack of offense.

“We didn’t back [Beeks] up well with our offense,” said Coach Dave Van Horn, whose team has lost three consecutive games. “I told the team we need to get it going with the bats. We are three weeks into the season. It was a disappointing day offensively, and it comes back to [the lack of] timely hitting.”

Beeks was in control early, retiring the first nine batters he faced, but the left-hander hit a rough patch in the top of the fourth when San Francisco (6-6) turned to some small ball, advancing a runner from first to second with a well-executed bunt down the line.

Dons cleanup man Zack Turner followed with a hard grounder that third baseman Michael Bernal couldn’t handle and let skip into the outfield, allowing Nico Giarratano to score easily for a 1-0 lead. The Dons another run on Bob Cruikshank’s single to center to for a 2-0 lead.

“I didn’t get ahead of guys in the fourth,” Beeks said. “I got behind, and that put them in a good position to hit some balls that had to be strikes.”

Arkansas showed some life in the sixth. The team was facing another three-up, three-down inning when right fielder Tyler Spoon reached first on an infield single, barely beating out the throw. Wilkerson followed with a double down the right-field line to drive in Spoon and cut the lead to 2-1, but first baseman Eric Fisher struck out to end the inning.

Arkansas tried to rally in the eighth, but Eaton’s play extinguished the flame.

Beeks and San Francisco starter Abe Bobb turned in strong performances.

Bobb gave allowed 1 run on 5 hits over 7 innings. He struck out six and did not walk a batter. Beeks gave up 4 hits while striking out 6 and walking 1.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow, but we have three more games this weekend,” Beeks said.

“If we can go 3-1, I will be happy.”Today’s game

ARKANSAS VS. CALIFORNIA

WHEN 3:30 p.m. Central

WHERE Evans Diamond, Berkeley, Calif.

RECORDS Arkansas 7-3; San Francisco 8-3

RADIO RSP statewide radio network. Not all games will be carried by affiliates. Check local listings.

INTERNET www.arkansasrazorbacks.com and ESPN3 THE WEEK AHEAD TODAY vs. Tulane*, 3:30 p.m.

SUNDAY at California*, 3 p.m. (DH) MONDAY Off TUESDAY Off WEDNESDAY Off THURSDAY Off FRIDAY at Florida, 6 p.m.

Sports, Pages 23 on 03/08/2014

Discussion

Submit