Loaded but empty: Hogs fail to score 4 times with bases full

By: Bob Holt
Published: Friday, April 13, 2018
Arkansas base runner Casey Martin is tagged out by South Carolina third baseman Jonah Bride during a game Thursday, April 12, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas base runner Casey Martin is tagged out by South Carolina third baseman Jonah Bride during a game Thursday, April 12, 2018, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The Arkansas Razorbacks loaded the bases in four innings against South Carolina, but none of those runners came home to score.

The failure to get timely hits doomed the No. 3 Razorbacks as South Carolina hung on to win 3-2 on Thursday night at Baum Stadium before an announced crowd of 6,329.

"Just kind of a game for us of missed opportunities," University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Coach Dave Horn said. "We did a good job of getting guys on, just couldn't get the big hit to bring them in.

"Give credit to their pitchers. They wiggled out of a couple of jams and held onto that lead."

The Razorbacks got the tying run on base in the bottom of the ninth inning when Eric Cole reached on an infield single with one out, but South Carolina reliever Eddy Demurias struck out Heston Kjerstad and got Luke Bonfield on a groundout to third baseman Jonah Bride to end the game.

Replays showed that Bride's throw to first baseman Matt Williams just beat Bonfield's foot hitting the bag.

The Gamecocks (20-14, 6-7) became the first SEC team to beat Arkansas at Baum Stadium this season, and the first to beat them in a conference series opener.

Arkansas ace Blaine Knight (6-0) pitched a season-low four innings and came out of the game with the Razorbacks leading 2-1. Knight allowed 6 hits and 1 run with 4 strikeouts. He didn't have a walk and threw 70 pitches, including 48 strikes.

"Blaine just really didn't have very good stuff," Van Horn said. "You could tell they were on him pretty good, and we just felt like there was no reason to send him back out for the fifth.

"It happens every now and then. So we kicked it to the bullpen, and honestly they did a really good job. They only gave up two runs on one swing."

Barrett Loseke replaced Knight in the fifth inning and allowed a two-run home run by Carlos Cortes that gave South Carolina a 3-2 lead.

Van Horn said there is nothing wrong with Knight physically.

"He's fine, he's fine," Van Horn said. "He didn't want to come out."

Arkansas (25-10, 8-5) won its first six SEC home games -- sweeping Kentucky and Auburn -- and had been 4-0 in conference series openers.

The Gamecocks ended the Razorbacks' winning streak at six games. Arkansas fell to 19-3 at Baum Stadium this season and is now 7-6 in one-run games.

Sawyer Bridges (2-0) and Demurias -- who earned his third save -- combined to shut out the Razorbacks over the final five innings.

"That was a really good baseball game," South Carolina Coach Mark Kingston said. "Both sides played really well. Our pitchers were just able to make big pitches when it mattered."

South Carolina freshman pitcher Logan Chapman went 4 innings and allowed 7 hits and 2 runs.

Arkansas took a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning when Cole hit a lead-off single against Chapman and scored when Casey Martin doubled and Cortes bobbled the ball in the left-field corner for an error.

Justin Row singled in the second inning and scored on Hunter Taylor's two-out double to give South Carolina a 1-0 lead.

The Razorbacks tied it 1-1 in the bottom of the second on singles by Bonfield and Dominic Fletcher that preceded Grant Koch's sacrifice fly.

Arkansas loaded the bases in the second inning -- after scoring a run -- and again in the fourth, fifth and seventh without scoring.

Jax Biggers popped out to end the second inning and hit in a double play to end the fourth. Koch flied out to end the fifth and grounded out to end the seventh.

"I think that was probably the big part of the game, those runners left on base," said Koch, the starting catcher and team co-captain. "That starts with me. Those two situations, the team needs a hit. Usually I'm pretty confident in those situations, and I didn't get the job done.

"I thought our bullpen did a great job, coming in and allowing only two runs. That should be enough to win us the game. We just had some opportunities left on the table."

The fifth inning was especially frustrating for the Razorbacks as they essentially were given five outs by the Gamecocks.

South Carolina turned just one out on what should have been a double-play grounder, and Taylor -- the catcher -- dropped a popup by Koch before he flied out. Fletcher also reached base that inning on a catcher's interference call.

"Grant comes through for us nine times out of 10," Cole said. "Everybody else on this team comes through for us nine times out of 10.

"Tonight just wasn't the night for us, obviously."

In tonight's second game of the series junior left-hander Kacey Murphy (4-2, 2.31 ERA) will start for the Razorbacks against South Carolina junior right-hander Adam Hill (3-3, 4.79 ERA).

"It's a different feeling for us," Van Horn said. "First time we've lost game one.

"I think we'll respond fine. We're pretty resilient. We've got a little bit of an older team that knows you're going to get beat every now and then and the frustration of the game."

Sports on 04/13/2018

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Today’s game

NO. 3 ARKANSAS VS, SOUTH CAROLINA

WHEN 6:30 p.m.

WHERE Baum Stadium, Fayetteville

RECORDS Arkansas 25-10, 8-5 SEC; South Carolina 20-14, 6-7

SERIES Arkansas leads 37-33

STARTING PITCHERS South Carolina: RHP Adam Hill (3-3, 4.79 ERA); Arkansas: LHP Kacey Murphy (4-2, 2.31 ERA).

RADIO Razorback Sports Network

TELEVISION None

INTERNET SEC Network-Plus

SHORT HOPS South Carolina third baseman Jonah Bride hit a single in the eighth inning to extend his streak of reaching base to 30 games. … Arkansas sophomore center fielder Dominic Fletcher, who was 3 for 3, has a six-game hitting streak. During the streak, Fletcher is batting .554 (12 of 22). … Arkansas is 18-11 against South Carolina in Fayetteville.

THE WEEK AHEAD

TODAY vs. South Carolina 6:30 p.m.

SATURDAY vs. South Carolina 2 p.m.

SUNDAY Off

MONDAY Off

TUESDAY vs. Missouri State 6:30 p.m.

WEDNESDAY Off

THURSDAY Off

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