COLLEGE BASEBALL:

Razorbacks swept in one-run games

By: AUSTIN CROCHETIERE SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE
Published: Monday, March 10, 2014
Arkansas first baseman Eric Fisher attempts to tag out a Cal base runner Sunday at the Cal Baseball Classic in Berkeley, Calif. The Razorbacks lost both games of the doubleheader.
Photo by Chris Daigle
Arkansas first baseman Eric Fisher attempts to tag out a Cal base runner Sunday at the Cal Baseball Classic in Berkeley, Calif. The Razorbacks lost both games of the doubleheader.

BERKELEY, Calif. - Two plays that had nothing to do with pitching or hitting proved pivotal in Arkansas’ doubleheader loss to Cal on Sunday at Evans Diamond.

A runner’s interference call on freshman center fielder Andrew Benintendi wiped out a potential rally in the seventh inning of a 4-3 loss in the first game, and a botched rundown between third and home in the eighth inning of Game 2 allowed Cal to score the winning runin a 2-1 victory.

Arkansas (8-5) posted a 1-3 record in the Cal Classic, all three losses by one run, and Coach Dave Van Horn said there is only one way for the Razorbacks to turn those type of losses into victories.

“It’s about being tough,it’s about making a play, making a pitch or grinding out an at-bat and we are not doing a good job of that right now,” Van Horn said of the Razorbacks, who open SEC play at Florida on Friday.

Van Horn didn’t complain about Benintendi’s attempt to break up a double play at second base with the bases loaded, one out and Arkansas trailing 3-1 in the seventh inning of the first game. Benintendi slid into second base cleats out, trying to slow Cal shortstop Mike Reuvekamp’s throw to first base.

Ruevekamp’s throw to first was too late to complete a double play, which would have allowed Michael Bernal to score Arkansas’ second run, but umpires ruled Benintendi interfered with Reuvekamp, and it resulted in an inning-ending double play.

“To me it looked like the shortstop had trouble getting the ball out of his glove and then got tangled up in our guy,” Van Horn said. “That cost us a run, and that’s not good.”

Cal scored a run in the bottom of the seventh to go up4-1, but Arkansas cut the lead to 4-3 in the top of the eighth inning on Eric Fisher’s home run to right field with Brian Anderson aboard. That was as close as the Razorbacks would get.

The second game was tied 1-1 after Tyler Spoon scored on Brett McAfee’s eighth-inning sacrifice fly, but Arkansas’ pitchers lost control in the bottom of the inning.

Starter Trey Killian allowed Brenden Farney to reach on a single and was lifted for reliever Jacob Stone, who hit pinch-hitter John Soteropulos to put runners on first and second with no outs. Stone’s wild pitch moved pinch-runners Brian Celsi and Aaron Knapp to second and third, and Van Horn made another pitching change, calling for Dominic Taccolini.

Reuvekamp grounded out to Taccolini, who held the runners at second and third, for the first out.

Arkansas then called for a pitchout expecting a possible squeeze bunt but catcher Jacob Wise threw too quickly back to third baseman Clark Eagen, who rushed his throw back to Wise. The ball hit Celsi in the back, allowing him to score.

“We felt pitchout, we called pitchout, it was a perfect pitchout and the catcher just rushed it,” Van Horn said.

Killian (0-2) got the loss in the second game despite yielding 5 hits and 1 earned run in 7-plus innings.

Van Horn wasn’t as pleased with the performance of firstgame starter Chris Oliver (1-2), who walked 2, hit a batter and allowed 6 hits and 4 earned runs in 6 innings.

Cal (10-5) scored one in the first and two in the third to take a 3-1 lead, and the Bears got their leadoff man on base in each of the first four innings.

“He walked too many people and he didn’t have a breaking ball,” Van Horn said. “Cal just sat on his fastball.”

Arkansas left 18 runners on base for the game, 8 in the first game and 10 in the second game, when the Razorbacks had nine hits but one run.

“We hung in there, we out hit them,“ coach Van Horn said. “We just didn’t get the big hit.”

Up next ARKANSAS AT FLORIDA WHEN 6 p.m. Friday WHERE McKethan Stadium, Gainesville, Fla.

RECORDS Arkansas 8-5, 0-0 SEC; Florida 10-6, 0-0 RADIO RSP statewide radio network. Not all games will be carried by affiliates. Check local listings.

INTERNET arkansasrazorbacks.com

Sports, Pages 13 on 03/10/2014

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