SEC Tournament report:

Hogs seek HR record for season

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Sunday, May 27, 2018
Arkansas shortstop Jax Biggers (9) greets first baseman Jared Gates (3) after Gates hit a home run during an SEC Tournament game against LSU on Saturday, May 26, 2018, in Hoover, Ala.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas shortstop Jax Biggers (9) greets first baseman Jared Gates (3) after Gates hit a home run during an SEC Tournament game against LSU on Saturday, May 26, 2018, in Hoover, Ala.

HOOVER, Ala. -- The Arkansas Razorbacks continued their push toward the school's single-season home run record on Saturday at the SEC Tournament.

First baseman Jared Gates launched a solo home run in the third inning of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville's 2-1 loss in a tourney semifinal against LSU to give the Razorbacks 84 home runs on the season, the second-most in school history.

The 84th home run surpassed the 83 from last season, when the Razorbacks had a big bopper in Chad Spanberger, who launched 20, including five in the SEC Tournament.

The Razorbacks' school record is the 92 home runs hit in 64 games in 2010, an average of 1.44 per game. The current edition of the Razorbacks is averaging 1.47 home runs per game.

Freshman Casey Martin seized the team lead in Hoover by hitting three to move his total to 13. Three other Razorbacks have double figure home runs: Eric Cole with 12, Heston Kjerstad with 11 and Carson Shaddy with 10.

Series update

LSU won its 12th game in its last 14 outings against Arkansas with its 2-1 victory on Saturday.

The Tigers now lead the series 73-32 overall, own a 13-4 edge at neutral sites and a 11-3 mark in Hoover, Ala.

Campbell confidence

Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said right-hander Isaiah Campbell's showing against LSU should be a confidence builder heading into the postseason.

Campbell picked up the loss, allowing 4 hits and 2 earned runs in a 2-1 loss to the Tigers.

"I thought he was really good," Van Horn said. "Spotting his fastball both sides of the plate. He had his change-up working pretty good. He kept some pretty good hitters off balance.

"He had good velocity, especially early, and mixed his speeds well. I really feel like his overall record is deceiving. His stuff's a lot better than that."

Base bungle

Ole Miss committed a base-running gaffe on Saturday that was reminiscent of the one that cost Auburn's Jay Estes a home run at Baum Stadium earlier this year.

With Cole Zabowski at first base, the Rebels' Will Golson hit a drive to the left-center gap on which Texas A&M center fielder Zach Deloach dove, but the ball trickled out of his glove. Zabowski could not see the ball and retreated from near second base back toward first, while Golson raced past him, burned around second and headed for third.

The umpires correctly ruled Golson out on the play for passing a runner, and Zabowski stayed on first. Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco argued the play for several minutes and the stoppage for a replay ruling and Bianco's beef took more than seven minutes.

In a 5-4 loss to Arkansas on April 8, Auburn outfielder Jay Estes hit a home run just over the glove of Heston Kjerstad in left field, but Estes passed base runner Brett Wright and was out on the play, though Wright's run counted.

Shaddy slump

Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said he wanted to get more run production after the Razorbacks lost a three-game series at Georgia last week, so he swapped Casey Martin and Carson Shaddy in the batting order, which put Shaddy in the 2 hole and Martin batting 6th.

The move worked fine for Martin, who homered three times in the first two games at the SEC Tournament.

Shaddy, the team's leading hitter entering the postseason, has not done as well. He went 0 for 12 in Hoover in the two hole. One of his at-bats including a strike three call on a low, outside pitch against Florida, after which a frustrated Shaddy slammed the tip of his bat into the dirt.

Van Horn said he was going to stick with the new lineup for next week's NCAA regional.

"His hand's bothering him a little bit," Van Horn said, referencing the hit-by pitch against Mississippi State on April 21 that kept Shaddy out seven games. "It's not 100 percent healed from when he got hammered at Mississippi State a month ago.

"It's probably about as close as it can be to being broke and he's been toughing it out. It's been bothering him some. I think a few days rest will be really good for him and hopefully he'll be feeling really good by the weekend."

All West

LSU's elimination of Florida by the run rule early Saturday gave the final SEC East team the boot from the tournament.

SEC West teams wound up 8-1 against their counterparts, with Florida's 4-3 victory over LSU on Wednesday as the only victory for the East.

Arkansas went 2-0 against East teams, having pounded South Carolina (13-8) and Florida (8-2) for 21 runs on 31 hits.

Fog first

The SEC Tournament had been beleaguered each of its first five days by pop-up showers, lightning and even a long thunderstorm on Friday, but the tourney experienced a first late Friday evening with LSU leading Florida 10-0.

Fog moved in through the low mountains in central Alabama and blanketed the Hoover Met to the point Florida defenders could not see a shallow pop-up into left-center field that turned into a double for LSU's Daniel Cabrera.

Officials suspended the game at that point, and it was resumed at 10 a.m. Saturday with LSU finishing up an 11-0 victory.

The rain delay streak reached five days with a delay of 1 hour and 26 minutes in the third inning of LSU's victory over Arkansas.

Spread it around

Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco likes the depth his offense has shown in Hoover.

"One of the reasons that our offense is so good is that it's throughout the lineup," Bianco told the SEC Network. "When you look up and down the lineup, 3-4-5 [spots] all had RBI today, but so did 7-8-9. And a couple of home runs from the 8-9 hitters."

Sports on 05/27/2018

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