Runs galore gone, UA wins close one

By: Bob Holt
Published: Monday, February 19, 2018
Eric Cole celebrates a home run in Arkansas' 3-1 win over Bucknell on Sunday Feb. 18, 2018.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Eric Cole celebrates a home run in Arkansas' 3-1 win over Bucknell on Sunday Feb. 18, 2018.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The Arkansas Razorbacks found themselves in a tight baseball game Sunday against Bucknell after pounding the Bison 14-2 and 32-4 to open the series.

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Bucknell had the tying run at the plate, but after Jake Reindl gave up a double to Keifer Rawlings leading off the ninth inning, he retired the next three batters to close out the No. 6 Razorbacks' 3-1 victory at Baum Stadium before an announced crowd of 4,872.

"Looking ahead, this type of game is probably what we needed," University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Coach Dave Van Horn said. "A little bit of drama, a little tension. Nothing's in the bag going into the ninth inning."

Reindl struck out Luke Hartman swinging to end the game.

"Jake didn't get rattled one bit," Van Horn said. "He just made a few nice pitches and got a ground ball to third and a fly out and a strikeout.

"It was good for him to come in here and get that save, and it was good for us to get a win."

Arkansas took a 2-1 lead in the third inning on Luke Bonfield's RBI single, which scored Dominic Fletcher, who singled and went to second on a walk by Eric Cole.

Cole, who went 3 for 3, hit a home run in the seventh inning to push the Razorbacks' lead to 3-1.

The home run came on a 1-0 curveball from Jeff Gottesman and cut through a strong wind to get over the left-field fence. Cole said he was looking for an off-speed pitch because that's what Gottesman had thrown to him in the previous at-bat.

"I pretty much knew an off-speed pitch was coming and it was outside," Cole said. "So I was able to stay back and drive it and luckily it got over the fence."

Van Horn said that when the ball first came off Cole's bat, he thought it would be caught by Bucknell left fielder JohnPaul Bell.

Cole, a switch-hitter, batted lefthanded against the righty Gottesman.

"He had a little left-handed slice on it that kind of cut through the wind that didn't hurt it like it would have if he hit it 20 more feet to the right," Van Horn said. "It was a big run."

Bucknell took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Arkansas starter Keaton McKinney allowed two walks and Tyler Wincig hit a one-out RBI single.

It nearly was a 2-0 lead for the Bison, but left fielder Heston Kjerstad caught a fly ball by Evan Madigan and threw out Evan Klugerman -- who tagged up from third -- at the plate for a double play.

"As soon as I saw the ball coming, I knew we had a shot," said Arkansas catcher Grant Koch, who made a sweep tag on Klugerman. "Heston threw it really, really well. He gave me a lane.

"Plays like that can change a game. We got out of a lot of jams, and that was probably the biggest one."

Van Horn called it "just a great play" by Kjerstad.

"Kjerstad did a good job of getting behind the ball," Van Horn said. "He did everything right with his feet so that when he caught the ball he was ready to just transfer to his hand and had his body right and made a really strong throw. Grant did a nice job making the tag there, and instead of being down 2-0 we're down 1-0 and we tie it up.

Bucknell left seven runners on base.

"It's always good to battle and compete in those tight situations," Koch said. "It prepares you for the rest of the year.

"Thirty runs isn't going to happen every game. So it's good that we had a close one and we were able to keep our composure and just go out there and win the ballgame."

Arkansas freshman Caleb Bolden held the Bison to one hit over three innings to pick up the victory.

Freshman Jackson Rutledge, 6-8 and 260 pounds, had four strikeouts in two innings for the Razorbacks. His fastball was clocked as high as 97 miles per hour, according to the scoreboard.

"He's a big kid that throws downhill with a heavy ball," Van Horn said. "Dropped his curveball in there a few times and threw a changeup or two. It's a big weapon."

Arkansas tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second inning on Carson Shaddy's RBI single that scored Koch.

McKinney, a redshirt junior, pitched for the first time since 2016. He missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

"It felt good to be out there again," said McKinney, who went two innings. "It's been awhile. A lot of ups and downs, but overall I felt good.

"My arm got a little tight in the second inning, but it's just part of the process with Tommy John. Just working through it."

McKinney threw 44 pitches and allowed 1 hit and 2 walks with 2 strikeouts. He said he felt he was guiding his fastball, so he went more with his curveball and changeup.

"I would liked to have seen him throw more strikes, and he had been throwing strikes [in practice]," Van Horn said. "For some reason he didn't today. The fastball was anywhere from about 85 to 90. He can throw it a little better than that.

"We'd like to see him command the ball a little bit better, but I have the feeling he'll be a lot better this next time out."

Up next ARKANSAS VS. ARIZONA WHERE San Diego WHEN 9 p.m. Central on Wednesday RECORDS Arkansas 3-0; Arizona 3-0 SERIES Arizona leads 4-2 TV Cox Sports Television RADIO Razorback Sports Network

ARKANSAS VS. ARIZONA

WHERE San Diego

WHEN 9 p.m. Central on Wednesday RECORDS Arkansas 3-0; Arizona 3-0 SERIES Arizona leads 4-2 TV Cox Sports Television RADIO Razorback Sports Network

Short hops

Actual attendance for Arkansas’ three-game series against Bucknell was 13,064. … The Razorbacks scored 49 runs against the Bison. It was the most runs for Arkansas in the first three games of a season since 1997 when the Razorbacks scored 60 in beating Louisiana-Monroe 10-6, Missouri Southern 24-1 and Iowa 26-6. … Arkansas hit eight home runs against Bucknell. … Razorbacks freshman outfielder Heston Kjerstad started all three games and was 6 of 9. … Senior second baseman Carson Shaddy had 9 RBI in the Bucknell series and hit 2 home runs. … Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Sunday’s game.

Sports on 02/19/2018

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