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.
SEC Baseball Report:
Miscues pile up for Hogs
LSU base runner Mark Laird slides across home plate ahead of the tag from Arkansas catcher Alex Gosser during the seventh inning of a SEC Tournament game on Thursday, May 22, 2014 at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, Ala.
HOOVER, Ala. -- Not that LSU needed any help Thursday night with ace Aaron Nola pitching, but Arkansas had defensive lapses that helped the Tigers score three runs on their way to a 7-2 victory.
Twice the Razorbacks missed the cutoff man on throws from the outfield, allowing the Tigers to advance an extra base and eventually come around to score. But the most glaring mental mistake came in the seventh inning, when Mark Laird tagged up at third and scored on a popout by Jake Fraley to put LSU ahead 5-1.
"I was real confident Jake Farley was going to do something good," Tigers Coach Paul Mainieri said. "I didn't think he'd hit the shortest sacrifice fly in the history of the game."
Arkansas third baseman Bobby Wernes caught Farley's popout against the railing of LSU's dugout. Catcher Alex Gosser also gave chase to the popout, but pitcher Landon Simpson failed to cover home plate, prompting LSU third base coach Will Davis to yell at Laird to score.
"I went back to tag and Coach Davis was like, 'There's nobody covering home!' " Laird said. "I saw their closest player was the catcher on the warning track.
"I was like, 'OK, I can't let this guy beat me home,' and it worked out for us."
Laird had scored by the time Gosser took the throw from Wernes.
"The LSU fans are screaming trying to bother the third baseman, and we're screaming like crazy for our pitcher to go cover the plate, and he couldn't hear us," Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said.
"Their third baseman made a real nice catch, but Laird reacted quickly," Mainieri said. "That was big to get that run home, because any run you get with Aaron Nola pitching to extend the lead is huge."
Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said freshman right-hander Dominic Taccolini (2-0, 4.12 ERA) will start for the Razorbacks against Ole Miss in today's elimination game.
It will be Taccolini's third start. He started against Texas A&M and Missouri because Jalen Beeks was out with elbow soreness, but didn't get a decision in either game as the Razorbacks lost to the Aggies 6-5 in 10 innings and beat the Tigers 7-5 in 11 innings.
In 6 SEC appearances, Taccolini has a 6.23 ERA while allowing 12 hits and 8 walks in 13 innings with 7 strikeouts.
"We'll have four or five guys ready to go," Van Horn said. "If we're fortunate enough to win that one, I have no idea who we're going to throw the next day."
Smith for Rebels
Junior right-hander Sam Smith (5-4, 3.30 ERA) will start for Ole Miss today according to an announcement by the baseball program Thursday night.
Smith has started 14 games, including 10 in the SEC. He's 2-4 in conference games with a 3.97 ERA.
Arkansas used three pitchers -- sophomores Colin Poche and Landon Simpson and freshman Zach Jackson -- against LSU. The three came into the game with a combined 34 innings in SEC games this season.
"It was good for some of our young guys to get out there and pitch," Razorbacks Coach Dave Van Horn said. "They gained a lot of experience. We're trying to use that as a positive."
Simpson was the most effective Thursday night, going 4 1/3 innings and allowing 4 hits, 2 runs and 1 walk with 4 strikeouts.
"I thought I did a decent job," Simpson said. "I could have made a couple of better pitches. Overall, it wasn't too bad."
Mainieri's the man
LSU Coach Paul Mainieri improved to 20-4 in SEC Tournament games with Thursday's victory over Arkansas. His Tigers have won four of the past six tournament titles.
Thursday's game marked the ninth time Arkansas has played LSU in the past three seasons, including three matchups in the SEC Tournament. LSU holds a 6-3 advantage in that span with a 2-1 record in the SEC Tournament games.
Shortstop Errol Robinson bats ninth for Ole Miss, but he is batting more like a cleanup hitter.
Robinson is hitting .579 (11 for 19) in the past seven games. He was 2 for 2 against Arkansas in Wednesday's game.
at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, Hoover, Ala. Double elimination THURSDAY’S GAMES
Ole Miss 7, Vanderbilt 2
Florida 7, South Carolina 2
South Carolina eliminated
LSU 7, Arkansas 2 Mississippi State vs. Kentucky, (n)
All times Central
Arkansas vs. Ole Miss, 3 p.m. Florida vs. TBD, 6:30 p.m.
Sports on 05/23/2014