Hog Calls:

Gosser's bit role a big hit with mates

By: Nate Allen
Published: Monday, May 12, 2014
Arkansas catcher Alex Gosser tracks a fly ball against Texas A&M during the second inning Friday, May 9, 2014, at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas catcher Alex Gosser tracks a fly ball against Texas A&M during the second inning Friday, May 9, 2014, at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Alex Gosser's 15 minutes of fame elapsed overnight.

Arkansas Razorbacks senior catcher Jake Wise passed concussion protocol and was cleared to play Saturday night's SEC game against the Texas A&M Aggies that Arkansas would win, 7-3 at Baum Stadium.

Gosser was back in the bullpen, warming up Razorbacks relievers, which had been his most active contribution to the 2014 Razorbacks baseball team until he stepped into a starting role on Friday night.

Who knows? Maybe Gosser will do nothing more than catch relievers in the bullpen for the remainder of the season.

Friday night was much different, with Wise not cleared since his May 3 concussion at Ole Miss and backup catcher/regular DH Blake Baxendale sidelined by a pulled hamstring.

Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn offered Gosser the chance to start Friday's game opening the three-game SEC West series with Texas A&M.

It meant burning his redshirt year, but Gosser of North Little Rock apparently burned to play for Arkansas like only someone does growing up with an Arkansas dream.

"He wants to play," Van Horn said Thursday with the Gosser contingency plan proposed while Wise awaited test results. "He's going to graduate in four years anyway."

Gosser majors in kinesiology, a major often leading to med school or a health care rehabilitation field.

The Razorbacks' catching health needed rehab. Gosser's time had come to rehab it if only for one SEC night.

The dream didn't follow a strict Hollywood script. Gosser went 0 for 4, striking out three times and stranding six runners.

It didn't matter. Jake Wise hits .163 and Arkansas' pitchers still consider him their personal team MVP for his defense and taking charge of the game.

Pitching coach Dave Jorn called the pitches, but other than that, Trey Killian, Friday night's starter, said Gosser took charge.

Killian allowed 2 hits, 1 run, struck out 7 and walk none in 8 innings of a game Arkansas won 3-2. No Aggie stole a base off Gosser. Other than a passed ball, and even Wise suffered one of those Saturday night, no pitch got by Gosser.

He wasn't brought to the postgame interview room along with teammates Killian, Joe Serrano, Clark Eagan and Michael Bernal, but they made sure to mention him.

"I think Gosser should be up here instead of me," said Serrano, who had the game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth.

Sophomore Killian, so comfortable pitching two years to Wise, called Gosser "amazing."

"He was outstanding behind the plate for me," Killian said. "The player of the game probably."

Whether it was the Arkansas crowd all game vociferously pulling as one for the understudy that's one of their own, or his teammates passing the praise on a night they starred, Alex Gosser brought out the Arkansas best of Baum.

Sports on 05/12/2014