Hogs rally in 8th, hold in 9th to beat LSU

By: Brandon Adam Special to the Democrat-Gazette
Published: Saturday, May 5, 2018
Arkansas right fielder Eric Cole watches Saturday, April 28, 2018, as a fly ball sails to the outfield to score a run during the fifth inning against Alabama at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas right fielder Eric Cole watches Saturday, April 28, 2018, as a fly ball sails to the outfield to score a run during the fifth inning against Alabama at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

BATON ROUGE -- It looked like it wasn't going to be the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville's night.

LSU sophomore pitcher Zack Hess was stifling the Razorbacks' lineup after giving up two early home runs, and junior pitcher Blaine Knight wasn't himself on the mound.

ADVERTISEMENT

More headlines

But No. 4 Arkansas (33-13, 14-8 SEC) weathered the storm and came away with a 5-4 victory Friday over LSU (26-20, 10-12 SEC).

Arkansas, who has the conference's top offense, got off to a booming start thanks to a leadoff home run by junior right fielder Eric Cole on a nine-pitch at-bat, and a home run by junior catcher Grant Koch in the third inning. The Razorbacks got little off of Hess the rest of the way.

"I think that first at-bat, seeing eight or nine pitches or whatever it was, I think that really helped me," said Cole, who finished 3 for 4. "I got another chance, and I put a good swing on it and put it in the seats."

Knight never seemed comfortable, particularly in a 31-pitch first inning. LSU's Beau Jordan singled to open the inning, and he eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by freshman designated hitter Daniel Cabrera.

Jordan once again sparked the Tigers' offense with a home run in the third to tie the game at 2-2. Then a double by sophomore left fielder Antoine Duplantis was followed by an RBI single by senior first baseman Austin Bain to give LSU a 3-2 lead.

Arkansas had a chance to take back the lead in the top of the sixth after Cole doubled to open the inning. A single by freshman second baseman Casey Martin and a walk loaded the bases with one out for Arkansas.

Then Hess went to work.

He struck out sophomore designated hitter Evan Lee and induced a line out of Jordan McFarland to get out of the inning.

LSU added another run in the bottom of the sixth and chased Knight, who had not given up more than three runs in a start this season. He gave up 4 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks while striking out 3 in 6 innings.

"There was a lot of frustration in the dugout," Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said about the team's morale after the sixth inning. "My comment to the team was, 'This team can really hit. We haven't put together a good inning yet.' You just try to keep them motivated."

Arkansas' offense re-emerged in the top of the eighth inning.

Cole led off with his second home run off Hess, who ended the game with 4 runs earned on 6 hits and 1 walk while striking out 8 in 7 innings. After Cole's home run, the Razorbacks strung together four singles -- one off Hess and three off sophomore lefty reliever Nick Bush -- and added two more runs to take a 5-4 lead.

With Knight out of the game, Van Horn turned to junior Barrett Loseke, who went 2⅓ innings while giving up 1 hit and walking 3 without yielding a run.

"[The bullpen] did a tremendous job," Van Horn said. "They gave us a chance to climb back in it."

Loseke was replaced by junior Jake Reindl with one out and a runner on second in the ninth inning. The runner advanced to third on Reindl's wild pitch, but two consecutive strikeouts snapped Arkansas' five-game road losing streak.

"Honestly, give credit to Arkansas," LSU Coach Paul Mainieri said. "Their batters came up there and came through with the clutch hits when they had to in the eighth inning, and we had our chances in the bottom of the eighth and ninth and we just couldn't come through with the big hit."

Sports on 05/05/2018

Discussion

Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.