Murphy says last start just a hiccup

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Arkansas pitcher Kacey Murphy throws against Southern Miss on Saturday, June 2, 2018, during the NCAA Fayetteville regional at Baum Stadium.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas pitcher Kacey Murphy throws against Southern Miss on Saturday, June 2, 2018, during the NCAA Fayetteville regional at Baum Stadium.

OMAHA, Neb. -- Kacey Murphy is intent on not repeating recent mistakes when he takes the mound for the No. 5 seed Arkansas Razorbacks against Texas Tech tonight.

Murphy, a control pitcher, had one of his worst outings of the season in an 8-5 loss to South Carolina in the second game of the NCAA Fayetteville Super Regional on June 10. The left-hander from Rogers was trying to beat the Gamecocks for the third time this season but did not have his normal command while giving up 4 runs on 6 hits and 4 walks in 4⅓ innings, tying his second-shortest outing of the year.

UP NEXT

ARKANSAS BASEBALL

vs. Texas Tech

WHEN 6 p.m., today

WHERE T.D. Ameritrade Park, Omaha, Neb.

RECORDS Arkansas 45-19, Texas Tech 45-18

SERIES RECORD Arkansas leads 45-14

STARTING PITCHERS Arkansas LHP Kacey Murphy (8-5, 3.12 ERA); Texas Tech RHP Caleb Kilian (9-2, 3.04) or RHP Davis Martin (7-5, 4.50)

COACHES Dave Van Horn (640-362 in 16th year at Arkansas, 1,225-602 in 30th year overall); Tim Tadlock (239-130 in 6th year at Texas Tech and overall)

RADIO Razorback Sports Network. Check local listings.

TV ESPN

SHORT HOPS

Arkansas beat Texas Tech 5-1 on April 24 at Baum Stadium. LHP Evan Lee picked up the victory with 1⅔ innings of hitless relief behind Jackson Rutledge. RHP Barrett Loseke worked the final 4⅔ innings, striking out 10 and not allowing a hit. … Luke Bonfield and Jax Biggers went 2 for 3 for the Razorbacks, while Grant Koch was 2 for 4 and Dominic Fletcher 2 for 5. … The Razorbacks held Texas Tech to four singles, two by Gabe Holt and one each by Brian Klein and Josh Jung. The rest of the Red Raiders went 0 for 19.

"It was all about command," Murphy said. "I wasn't hitting the spots I wanted to, and that's kind of the pitcher I am. I wasn't hitting my spots, and that's what really got me in trouble, and I was getting behind in counts."

Razorback fans complained that home plate umpire Mike Morris was "squeezing" the strike zone and not catching Murphy's outside breaking pitch to right-handers because he was set up on catcher Grant Koch's inside. Murphy said Morris' zone wasn't the issue.

"No, it didn't bother me," he said. "At the end of the day, I'm a contact pitcher. I'm going to try to make them hit my pitches, but I was missing big, getting behind in counts so they hit whatever they wanted. So that's what really hurt me."

Murphy had allowed no earned runs in two of his past four starts before facing South Carolina last week. He shut out Texas A&M on four hits over 7⅓ innings on May 12, then blanked Southern Miss for 8 innings on 2 hits in a 10-2 victory in the winner's bracket of the NCAA Fayetteville Regional on June 2.

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville pitching coach Wes Johnson said a third matchup against the Gamecocks probably turned into a disadvantage for Murphy.

"You know where their weaknesses are," Johnson said. "You're trying so hard to exploit those that you end up nibbling instead of just attacking. That's something that we're going to do this week.

"I told Murph, 'We're going to attack your strengths and now we know what our plan will be versus Texas Tech, and you're not going to nibble to it, you're going to attack it.' "

Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn believes Murphy will bounce back.

"He's going to face one of the toughest offenses in Division I baseball in Texas Tech," Van Horn said. "He's going to have to pitch extremely well. We'll try to make sure we've got guys ready in the bullpen, because I feel like it'll take four or five guys to try to handle them."

Murphy said his arm feels fine after his 76-pitch outing nine days ago, which pushed his ERA up to 3.12.

"I'm really healthy and my arm feels good," he said. "I recovered really well from last weekend. I just worked on some things and I'm feeling good."

Johnson said Murphy had a plan against a Red Raiders team that is hitting .311, has six regulars at .314 or better, and is coming off a 6-3 victory over Florida and first-round MLB Draft pick Brady Singer on Sunday.

"We're going to get back to establishing our fastball to both sides of the plate," Johnson said. "Not only that, but getting the slider back over for a strike. When that happens, Kacey's as good as anybody in the country. Coach and I have talked about it this morning. We're going to have him ready to go and we expect good things from him."

Sports on 06/19/2018

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