Nerve-racking ninth

Razorbacks blow lead, but still finish job

By: Bob Holt
Published: Saturday, May 10, 2014
Arkansas outfielder Joe Serrano hit a game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth inning Friday against Texas A&M at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks won 3-2.
Photo by Michael Woods
Arkansas outfielder Joe Serrano hit a game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth inning Friday against Texas A&M at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks won 3-2.

FAYETTEVILLE -- After blowing a lead in the top of the ninth inning, Arkansas beat Texas A&M in the bottom of it.

Joe Serrano's one-out single up the middle scored Michael Bernal from second base to give the Razorbacks a 3-2 victory over the No. 20 Aggies on Friday night before an announced crowd of 6,249 at Baum Stadium.

TODAY’S GAME

TEXAS A&M AT ARKANSAS

WHEN 6:05 p.m.

WHERE Baum Stadium, Fayetteville

RECORDS Arkansas 31-20, 12-13 SEC. Texas A&M 30-20, 12-13

TICKETS Reserved $12. General admission $10.

TELEVISION Cox Sports TV

RADIO Razorbacks Sports Network statewide network. Not all games will be carried by all affiliates. Check local listings.

INTERNET arkansasrazorbacks.com

"We really needed to win that game," Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. "We let it slip away, and then for us to go back and grab it there, that was really big for our team."

The Razorbacks (31-20, 12-13 SEC) played without two regulars -- catcher Jake Wise and designated hitter Blake Baxendale -- forcing freshmen Clark Egan and Alex Gosser into the lineup.

Wise could not play because he haslnot been cleared after sustaining a concussion at Ole Miss last week, and Baxendale -- the team's backup catcher -- sat out because of a hamstring injury,

Egan, batting leadoff as the designated hitter, went 2 for 3 -- including his first home run -- with a walk and had a sacrifice bunt in the ninth-inning rally.

Alex Gosser, who Van Horn had hoped to redshirt, started at catcher and played his first college game. He was hitless in four at-bats but played well defensively.

"I don't think I could have asked him to do a better job than he did the first time out," Van Horn said.

Arkansas fans gave Gosser a standing ovation his first time at bat, acknowledging that he gave up redshirt year to help the team.

"In my mind, the player of the game was Alex Gosser," Serrano said. "He was just clutch. He was unbelievable."

Razorbacks starting pitcher Trey Killian, who held the Aggies (30-20, 12-13) to 2 hits and 1 run over 8 innings, praised how Gosser handled a difficult situation.

"He was just amazing back there," Killian said.

Arkansas shortstop Bernal led off the ninth with a single off Aggies closer Andrew Vinson (2-2) and advanced to second on Egan's bunt. Serrano followed with a single to center fielder Krey Bratsen, whose throw to the plate got by catcher Troy Stein as Bernal scored.

"I was just looking for something right over the plate, and he hung a curve ball and I just tried to put a good swing on it," Serrano said.

Van Horn said Serrano handled the bat well.

"He just went down and did what you're supposed to do with a breaking ball, and that's hit it right back where it came from," Van Horn said. "Don't try to pull it. Just hit it back through the middle.

Van Horn acknowledged that sending Bernal was a calculated risk with strong-armed center fielder Bratsen playing shallow.

"We just took a chance and the throw was right on the money," Van Horn said, "but at this time of night the grass gets a little slick and it looked like to me like he was going to have trouble fielding it because of the skip, and that's what happened."

Texas A&M tied it 2-2 in the top of the ninth against Arkansas closer Michael Gunn when Jonthan Moroney hit a one-out double and pinch runner J.B. Moss scored on Cole Lankford's single. The Aggies loaded the bases when Nick Banks reached on Bernal's error and Troy Stein walked, but Gunn struck out Ronnie Gideon to keep the game tied.

"A&M has been hot, and they've been winning those games," Van Horn said. "That ninth inning when they were rallying, they probably thought, 'Here we go, man, we're going to win it again,' because they've been doing it.

"That was a huge out for Gunn to get Gideon there and get us into the dugout and give us a chance."

Egan hit a home run leading off the bottom of the third inning to put Arkansas ahead 1-0.

The Razorbacks made it 2-0 with a run in the seventh. Egan drew a one-out walk, went to third on Serrano's single and scored on a groundout by Andrew Benintendi.

Stein hit a home run leading off the eighth inning to pull Texas A&M within 2-1.

Killian didn't allow a hit for 6 1/3 innings until Lankford hit a double with one out in the top of the seventh. Lankford went to third on a groundout but was stranded when Killian struck out Ryne Birk.

Killian retired the first 14 batters before Stein reached on a fielding error by first baseman Eric Fisher. Killian then struck out Gideon to end the top of the fifth inning.

Dave Van Horn - Texas A&M Post Game

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn recaps the Razorbacks' 3-2 win over No. 20 Texas A&M Friday night at Baum Stadium. (By Andrew Hutchinson)
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Sports on 05/10/2014

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