Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
Aggies wiggle away, prevent Hogs’ sweep
Texas A&M players celebrate after their 10-inning, 6-5 win over Arkansas Sunday, May 11, 2014, at Baum Stadium.
FAYETTEVILLE -- Texas A&M sophomore left-hander A.J. Minter had no margin for error when he came into Sunday's game against Arkansas
There were no outs in the bottom of the 10th inning and the Razorbacks had the bases loaded with the Aggies clinging to one-run lead with the Razorbacks' 3-4-5 hitters coming up.
"I told him, 'Heck of a mess I created for you, huh? Why don't you see if you can't get out of it,' " Texas A&M Coach Rob Childress said. "And lo and behold, he did."
Minter struck out Andrew Benintendi swinging, struck out Brian Anderson looking and got Eric Fisher on a flyout to center field on a 3-2 pitch as the No. 20 Aggies held on to win 6-5 before an announced crowd of 5,126 at Baum Stadium.
It was the first save this season for Minter, who replaced Aggies closer Andrew Vinson (3-2).
"Oh, man, it doesn't get any better than that," Minter said. "You've got to control what you can control, and that's getting the ball over the plate.
"You can't put them anywhere, so you have to go at them."
Minter said he got the Razorbacks out with cut fastballs.
Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said he believed the 1-2 pitch on which Anderson was called out was outside and hadn't been called a strike all game by home plate umpire Mark Chapman.
"It looked like it was off the plate to us, which was disappointing," Van Horn said. "Then I thought Fisher battled him pretty good.
"Hey, hats off to the kid. He did a tremendous job."
Fisher said Minter did a good job of locating his fastball on both sides of the plate.
"That was just a great job by him to go out there and just pound the zone," Fisher said.
Arkansas (32-21, 13-14 SEC) and reliever Jacob Stone were within a strike of winning the game 4-3 in the ninth inning when Cole Lankford singled on a 2-2 pitch advancing Blake Allemand to second. Nick Banks followed with an RBI single that left fielder Joe Serrano misplayed, allowing Allemand to score from second and Lankford to come around from first to put the Aggies ahead 5-4.
The Razorbacks tied it 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth. Benintendi reached on an error, Anderson singled, Fisher laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners and -- after Tyler Spoon was intentionally walked -- Bobby Wernes had an RBI groundout.
Texas A&M (31-21, 13-14 SEC) went ahead 6-5 when Logan Nottebrok led off the 10th with a home run on a 1-1 changeup from Arkansas closer Michael Gunn (3-2).
"I'd had pretty good at-bats all day," said Nottebrok, who was 3 for 4. "Coming up, I said to myself, 'I just want to hit it hard somewhere and don't worry about where it goes.'
"Luckily, he gave me a cookie and I was able to get the barrel on it and drive it out of here."
"I might've left it up a little bit, and he put a really good swing on it," Gunn said.
Stone went a season-long 41/3 innings as the Razorbacks' fourth pitcher after the Aggies chased starter Dominic Taccolini with three runs in the fourth inning to go ahead 3-0.
Arkansas tied it 3-3 in the sixth inning on RBI singles by Michael Bernal and Clark Egan and went ahead 4-3 in the seventh when Fisher singled in Anderson, who had doubled.
"That was a wild game," Childress said. "Back and forth, Arkansas had the momentum and the game in hand. We were down to our last out, last strike, and just stayed in the fight long enough.
"We tried to give it away a couple of times, but A.J. Minter wouldn't allow that."
Arkansas was going for its first SEC series sweep of the season after winning 3-2 on Friday night and 7-3 on Saturday night.
"It is frustrating," Fisher said. "It just shows you how hard it is to sweep."
Minter said he could feel goose bumps running down the back of his neck as he ran from the bullpen onto the field in the 10th inning. Nottebrok felt them playing at third base, too.
"That was nerve-racking, but he came in and did what he knows how to do and shoved it to them," Nottebroke said. "That's the A.J. Minter we knew, and he did it in the biggest moment this season."
Sports on 05/12/2014