7-run third too much for Bulldogs to overcome

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Thursday, April 13, 2017
Jordan McFarland, Arkansas designated hitter, slides in to score on a wild pitch Thursday, April 13, 2017, during the third inning against Georgia at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Jordan McFarland, Arkansas designated hitter, slides in to score on a wild pitch Thursday, April 13, 2017, during the third inning against Georgia at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

— Georgia coach Scott Stricklin knows he has a young team that has a small margin for error this season.

It can’t have innings like it did in Thursday’s night’s 14-4 loss at Arkansas as the Razorbacks put up seven runs on just three hits in the third inning to widen their lead to 10-1.

The inning included a pair of homers from Carson Shaddy and Luke Bonfield, three walks, a hit batsman and two run-scoring wild pitches - one while trying to intentionally walk Chad Spanberger.

“We had a chance to get out of it, but we just couldn’t get into the dugout,” Stricklin said. “They played really well and they are a very good hitting team and we fell behind in the count too often.

“Bottom line is that if you give a good team free bases - and we walked too many and hit a batter and fell behind in counts to really good hitters and that is what got us."

The wild pitches were both to Spanbeger, who had homered and doubled home a trio of runs already. Spanberger came to the plate with the bases loaded against the Bulldogs (15-20, 4-9 SEC).

“One was a sign cross up from the catcher to the pitcher and it was just a mental mistake that can’t happen,” Stricklin said. “The other one was on an intentional walk, which is an uncomfortable situation for pitcher because they just don’t do it and it just got away from him.

“You see that happen every once in awhile and unfortunately it happened to us.”

Arkansas had 11 hits, including a season-tying five homers against a trio of pitchers that Georgia sent to the mound.

Alex Gosser hit his first career homer to go along with ones hit by Spanberger (7th), Bonfield (6th), Shaddy (8th) and Jax Biggers (3rd). Lead-off man Jake Arledge and Spanberger both scored three runs.

The Razorbacks (27-8, 9-4) remain in a SEC West first-place tie with Auburn. Arkansas has hit 50 homers this season after having just 49 all of last season.

“They are just really good one through nine,” Stricklin said. “Even Biggers got one. He really juiced one and that’s your nine hole hitter doing that.

“Spanberger is a tough out and Bonfield and (Grant) Koch and those guys right behind him, all of those guys are really good hitters, experienced hitters who have been around and have a lot of at-bats under their belt."

Arkansas starting pitcher Blaine Knight (6-1) got the win while going 6 innings. He lowered his ERA to 1.85.

“I think he would probably admit that it wasn’t his 'A' stuff tonight and that shows how good he is,” Stricklin said. “He kind of battled through it and competed, but he wasn’t as sharp as from what I watched on film.

“He didn’t have as much (velocity), but he really pitched. He battled and competed and we had a chance early to try and get to him a little bit, but we just couldn’t get there.

“I think that speaks volumes to how good he is when you don’t have your 'A' stuff and you can still be an 'A' pitcher, and I think that is what he did tonight.”

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