Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A two-time graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Biletnikoff Award.
Killian comes through in win
Arkansas starter Trey Killian delivers a pitch against Texas A&M during the first inning Friday, May 9, 2014, at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Trey Killian didn't get the win in the scorebook Friday night but the Razorbacks' 3-2 victory over Texas A&M can be attributed to their staff ace.
Killian, who is only 2-8 this season despite having a 2.29 earned run average, carried a perfect game into the fifth inning, a no-hitter into the seventh and allowed only one run on two hits before leaving the game after the eighth. Arkansas' usually reliable closer Michael Gunn allowed the Aggies to tie the game in the ninth before Joe Serrano gave the Razorbacks the win with a one-out single in the bottom of the inning.
Arkansas (31-20, 12-13 SEC) tied Texas A&M (30-20, 12-13) in the SEC standings by quickly responding to the Aggies' late challenge. Despite the blown save, Gunn bounced back and struck out Ronnie Gideon to strand the bases loaded before Michael Bernal led off the bottom of the ninth with a single. Clark Eagan, who was 2-for-3 with a solo home run in the leadoff spot, sacrificed Bernal to second base to set up Serrano's heroics.
"The more the game goes I feel the pressure is on us," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "We really needed to win that game. We let it slip away but to go back and grab it there, that was big for our team."
While Serrano got the post game Gatorade bath, it was Killian who saved Arkansas on several fronts. He once again pitched brilliantly, keeping the Razorbacks in a low-scoring game. It was Arkansas' first one-run win this year when Killian was on the mound after losing five series openers by the same margin.
But Killian did more than just strike out seven batters and avoid a walk. He made things easy for the freshman catcher Alex Gosser playing his first collegiate game and saved a Razorbacks bullpen that will be called upon more this weekend because of Jalen Beeks' absence from the rotation.
"That was huge," Van Horn said of Killian's effort. "He could have kind of been feeling sorry for himself thinking, 'I've got to throw to a guy who hasn't caught all year and I can't throw my change-up in the dirt.' But as the game went on I think Trey felt more comfortable throwing to him and started using his change-up…knowing Alex could block it."
Arkansas won on fireworks night for the first time since Jacob House hit a walk-off grand slam in a thrilling 12-11 game against South Carolina in 2008. The Razorbacks had lost five straight in their Friday home finale - the start to what seems to be a pivotal series every year.
This series is no different. Arkansas is within one win of snapping a two-series losing streak. Texas A&M has won two straight series, including last week over LSU.
"Texas A&M has been hot and they've been winning those games," Van Horn said. "Ninth inning and they're rallying, and they're thinking, 'Here we go because we've been doing it.' That was a huge out for Gunn to get Gideon and give us a chance.
"I thought it was just a great Friday night game."