Arkansas pitchers 'flush' bad taste by shutting down one of nation's top offenses

By: Matt Jones
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Arkansas reliever Barrett Loseke delivers to the plate against Texas Tech Tuesday, April 24, 2018, during the ninth inning at Baum Stadium.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas reliever Barrett Loseke delivers to the plate against Texas Tech Tuesday, April 24, 2018, during the ninth inning at Baum Stadium.

— One inning into Tuesday night's game, it appeared fans would get the expected offensive showcase between Arkansas and Texas Tech.

The Red Raiders singled on the game's first pitch and loaded the bases in the top of the first, but came away empty-handed. Arkansas put its first five batters on base and scored three runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 3-0 lead.

The Razorbacks added two runs in the second and Texas Tech scored a run in the top of the third, but neither team scored again. The two offenses that combined average nearly 17 runs per game combined for only six Tuesday.

Arkansas (29-13) has found many ways to win this season, but the No. 7 Razorbacks haven't won a lot of games - and certainly none in the midweek - like their 5-1 win over the No. 4 Red Raiders.

The Razorbacks have shut down some teams on Tuesday and Wednesday, but none recently and none all year with the quality offense that Texas Tech possesses. The Red Raiders (32-10) entered the game top 10 nationally in almost every offensive statistical category, but tied a season-low with four hits - all coming against Arkansas starter Jackson Rutledge, who took a no-decision in 2 2/3 innings.

Texas Tech didn't have a hit after the third inning, didn't have a base runner after the fifth inning and struck out 17 times.

"I didn't think we'd shut down Texas Tech and hold them to one run with that offense," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "Sometimes you get on a little bit of a roll and it happens. It's good for the confidence of the pitching staff. Our bullpen didn't do a great job this past weekend and it's really nice to see them come out and finish a game off for us."

Left-hander Evan Lee pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings to earn the win and right-hander Barrett Loseke pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings to earn the save. Loseke set a career-high with 10 strikeouts and retired all 13 batters he faced (he induced a double play after inheriting two base runners in the fifth inning).

Loseke needed only 52 pitches to shut the door on Texas Tech. He supplemented his low 90s fastball with a curve and a changeup.

"Their pitchers really threw the ball well, especially (Loseke), who we didn’t make a lot of contact against," Texas Tech coach Tim Tadlock said.

“We didn’t put the bat on the ball like we usually do. We have to do better at that, but that has something to do with Arkansas pitching, which was really good."

Arkansas' great pitching performance came after a lackluster performance at Mississippi State the weekend before, when the SEC West's first-place Razorbacks were swept by the last-place Bulldogs. Arkansas relievers combined to allow 6 runs in 6 innings at Mississippi State and the Razorbacks lost by 1, 2 and 2 runs.

Neither Lee nor Loseke pitched in that series, but it was evident that everyone felt the need to make-up for it against the Red Raiders.

"Yeah, we were upset about our weekend, but we've got to carry that (energy) over into the next few games for us," Lee said.

"I think we kind of did a good job of flushing the weekend as soon as it was over," said Grant Koch, the Arkansas catcher who had two hits against Texas Tech. "We did a good job of making the adjustments that we needed to and coming into today fresh, and having that confidence that if we play good baseball - our best baseball - then we have a good chance to win no matter who we're playing, no matter what the situation is, no matter who's pitching."

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