Koch Powers Hogs Past New Orleans, 5-2

By: Clay Henry
Published: Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Arkansas catcher Grant Koch hits a two-run home run against New Orleans on Wednesday night at Baum Stadium to lead a 5-2 baseball victory.
( Andy Shupe)
Arkansas catcher Grant Koch hits a two-run home run against New Orleans on Wednesday night at Baum Stadium to lead a 5-2 baseball victory.

— Grant Koch drove in three with a home run and a double and Jax Biggers homered to lead Arkansas to its sixth straight victory, 5-2, over New Orleans on Wednesday night at Baum Stadium.

Koch drove in three runs to help the Hogs improve to 18-4 to conclude an 11-game home stand with 10 victories. New Orleans, which had beaten LSU twice in midweek games, is 13-9.

Koch, sophomore catcher from Fayetteville, cranked an RBI double in the third, then added a two-run homer in the fifth, his seventh of the season. He upped his RBI total to 23.

"He's on another planet right now," Biggers said of Koch. "He's the hottest guy in the SEC right now."

Koch's homer followed a foul ball off the screen that was first ruled a caught ball by the catcher by home plate umpire Greg Harmon. Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn protested the call, with umpires in the field helping reverse the call.

"It was clearly off the top of the screen," Van Horn said. "It's funny how things can change on one pitch. The next one he hit out for a two-run home run and we are up 3-0."

Koch said he was sure it wasn't an out.

"I heard it skim off the screen," he said. "The next pitch was a curve and he left it up."

Biggers got the last two Arkansas runs in contrasting styles. He was hit by pitch to leadoff the sixth. He moved up on two passed balls, then scored on a wild pitch. He hit a solo homer in the eighth.

Barrett Loseke, the second of six UA pitcher, went 3.1 innings to improve to 3-0. He did not allow a hit and struck out four.

Loseke entered in the third after Arkansas starter Kacey Murphy issued a two-out walk, his fourth of the game. Loseke got out of that with a strikeout.

"Barrett was really good," Van Horn said. "His last outing wasn't good. (Pitching) Coach (Wes) Johnson got with him. He was babying the ball in that game. He came in a lot better tonight and he got better as he went."

Loseke said he wasn't full throttle this time, either. He had spent most of Sunday's game warming in the bullpen, but didn't pitch.

"I might not have thrown enough pitches in the pen tonight," he said. "I definitely got it going better as I pitched. I did throw quite a bit in the bullpen on Sunday."

New Orleans plated their two runs in the seventh thanks to a pair of "swinging bunts" that were tough chances for third baseman Jared Gates making his first appearance. Gates, perhaps the best UA hitter in the fall, had been sidelined since January with hand surgery.

"Two perfectly placed balls," Van Horn said of the RBI infield hits. "We had moved him back because they weren't bunt counts and they get swinging bunts. There wasn't a lot he could do with them."

Earlier, Gates took a line drive off the shin for another infield hit.

"That was a tough play, too," Van Horn said. "He tried to get in front of it and block it. That's the way he plays. You see him, no batting gloves. I told him just to try to back hand those."

Gates went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

"He's not a swing and miss guy," Van Horn said. "He'll be fine. We wanted to get him out there and he'll get it going."

Most of the post-game interviews concerned the trip to Missouri this weekend. Both teams are 3-0 in SEC play. The 20-1 Tigers are led by pitcher Tanner Houck, the Friday night starter.

"It all starts with Houck," Van Horn said. "He's a projected first rounder, awfully good. It's a great challenge.

"He throws 92-95 and he has the secondary pitches. He's got a lot of movement on his fast ball. He's a power arm guy."

Biggers has seen tape of Houck.

"He's really good," Biggers said. "Good velocity, good sink. Everything he throws is pretty good.

"We are hot, they are hot. We look forward to this."

The UA-Mizzou opener is at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Attendance was 2,626.


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