SEC BASEBALL:

Rain delay stifles Hogs' momentum

By: Chris Starrs Special to the Democrat-Gazette
Published: Saturday, May 19, 2018
Arkansas pitcher Kacey Murphy throws during a game against Georgia on Friday, May 18, 2018, in Athens, Ga.
Photo by Rhett Hutchins via Arkansas Athletic Communications
Arkansas pitcher Kacey Murphy throws during a game against Georgia on Friday, May 18, 2018, in Athens, Ga.

ATHENS, Ga. -- Friday's SEC game between No. 6 Arkansas and No. 13 Georgia was split into three different segments, two of which weren't good for the Razorbacks.

The portion of the game that happened before a two-hour rain delay was a positive for the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, but the part that came after the heavy weather and the part that came after the ninth inning were less than satisfactory.

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The Bulldogs (36-17, 17-12 SEC) defeated the Razorbacks 8-7 in 10 innings, but Arkansas (37-16, 18-11) remains one game ahead of Ole Miss in the West Division standings after the Rebels fell to Alabama 3-0 on Friday.

When the bad weather moved into Foley Field as the fourth inning concluded, Arkansas had a 6-5 lead and starting pitcher Kacey Murphy was finding a groove after struggling in the first two innings.

"I don't think the rain delay helped us at all because we had a little bit of momentum going," Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. "We'd just gotten them out in the bottom of the fourth and had scored a few runs the inning before, and it just seemed like we had it going a little bit."

Murphy allowed 5 hits and 5 runs in the first 2 innings, but he navigated the third and fourth with little turbulence, recording 3 strikeouts and 2 popouts.

But once the delay was called, his day was over. Murphy allowed 6 hits, 5 earned runs and 1 walk to go with 4 strikeouts.

"We even made the comment we felt [Murphy] was going to be able to give us a couple more innings and then the rain hit," Van Horn said.

After the delay, Bulldogs' designated hitter Michael Curry hit a two-run home run off Cody Scroggins to put Georgia ahead 7-6. It was Curry's ninth home run of the season and 30th of his career.

Two of the Bulldogs' first-inning runs also came courtesy of the long ball as Aaron Schunk drove in leadoff hitter C.J. Smith on a home run to right field.

"They had two, two-run homers and that ended up being the difference," Van Horn said. "On two swings they scored four runs. We had a two-run homer in the first, and they erased that before we even got them out."

The Razorbacks -- who stranded 10 runners Friday -- scratched out a run in the eighth inning to tie it at 7-7 when Eric Cole earned a one-out walk, galloped to third on a double by Casey Martin and scored when Heston Kjerstad grounded out to second base.

Georgia came up in the bottom of the 10th inning against reliever Barrett Loseke, who came on in the bottom of the sixth inning and had allowed just two hits entering the 10th.

McGovern opened the inning with a double into the left-field corner, after which Curry was intentionally walked. Patrick Sullivan moved both runners over with a sacrifice bunt, and Cam Shepherd was intentionally passed to load the bases. L.J. Tally singled to end the game.

"That's a big-time win for us. We needed it," Georgia Coach Scott Stricklin said. "Last night was a tough loss, and it was a long day. Our kids just found a way to win."

The Razorbacks got off to a good start Friday, scoring in the first, second and third innings. Kjerstad hit a two-run home run to highlight the first inning. Cole added a one-out bloop single to center field in the second inning to score Grant Koch, and Arkansas took advantage of 2 hits (by Jack Kenley and Cole), 3 walks and a wild pitch to score three times in the third inning to grab the 6-5 lead.

Cole led the Razorbacks by going 3 for 4 with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored. Kjerstad drove in three runs, and Koch scored twice for the Razorbacks.

With Arkansas' regular-season finale set for 11 a.m. today, Van Horn said Friday he had not yet decided on a starter. Isaiah Campbell (4-5, 4.29 ERA), who has made 12 starts this season, may or may not get the call.

"We're not sure about one of our pitchers, who's got a little issue with his foot," Van Horn said of Campbell. "We're not sure where he's at. If he's not ready to go, we're not going to throw him out there. We might not make that decision until the morning."

Georgia is expected to go with Kevin Smith (7-1, 3-25 ERA) today.

Sports on 05/19/2018

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