Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Arkansas rallies to beat USC and win series
Arkansas pitcher Isaiah Campbell reacts after being taken out of a game against Southern Cal on Saturday, March 3, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Arkansas 8, USC 6 - Final
Like last night, Matt Cronin was perfect and recorded a save. CJ Stubbs flied out to right field, Emilio Rosas grounded out to shortstop and Brady Shockey struck out to end the game.
The Razorbacks improved to 5-0 and won a series over USC for the second straight year. Arkansas will go for the series sweep tomorrow at 8 p.m.
USC fell to 2-3 overall. Isaiah Campbell was the winning pitcher despite some struggles.
We'll have more at WholeHogSports.com soon.
Arkansas 8, USC 6 - Middle 9th Inning
Jack Kenley just had his second two-out RBI hit of the game, a single to score Curtis Washington Jr. from third base in the ninth.
Washington pinch ran for Jordan McFarland, who singled with one out. Washington stole second and advanced to third on a long drive to the outfield by Casey Opitz.
Washington is good on the bases. Remember he had the winning run against EIU last Sunday.
Matt Cronin will pitch the ninth for the Razorbacks, looking for saves on consecutive nights. He will face the bottom of the USC order.
Washington has replaced Heston Kjerstad in right field.
Arkansas 7, USC 6 - End 8th Inning
Kevin Kopps remarkably got out of the inning. Jamal O'Guinn grounded into a 5-3 double play that was turned well by Jacob Nesbit. Then Brandon Perez grounded out to end the inning, stranding a runner at second base.
You have to believe Matt Cronin is going to be called upon in the ninth inning. He was electric last night.
Arkansas will send its 4, 5, and 6 batters - Dominic Fletcher, Jordan McFarland and Casey Opitz - to the plate in the top of the ninth.
Arkansas 7, USC 6 - Bottom 8th Inning
The Diamond Hogs are in trouble. USC's Nos. 2 and 3 hitters, Chase Bushor and Blake Sabol, have singled off Kevin Kopps to lead off the inning. There are runners on first and second with no outs.
Arkansas 7, USC 6 - Middle 8th Inning
The eighth inning played out a lot like the seventh in Arkansas' half. Christian Franklin walked with one out, stole second and advanced to third on an error, but did not score and the Razorbacks' lead is still only one run.
Franklin had a chance to score, unlike Trevor Ezell the inning before. Casey Martin beat out an infield hopper at first, but Franklin didn't break from third base toward home.
Martin stole second base to put two in scoring position for Heston Kjerstad, but Kjerstad struck out. The inning ended when Ezell flied out to deep left field.
Arkansas has stranded eight runners.
Arkansas 7, USC 6 - End 7th Inning
Kevin Kopps has looked great since giving up that single to his first batter. He retired all three Trojans in the seventh, getting the 8, 9 and 1 batters to go down on contact.
Kopps' pitch count tonight is supposed to be pretty low, although I'm not sure how low. He has thrown 20 pitches. Perhaps another quick inning could get the Razorbacks to Matt Cronin in the ninth.
Arkansas 7, USC 6 - Middle 7th Inning
The top of the seventh was about as frustrating as it could be for Arkansas. Trevor Ezell walked to lead off the inning, stole second and advanced to third on an error with no outs.
But Ezell was stranded at third after Dominic Fletcher struck out looking at a 3-2 pitch over the plate. Then Jordan McFarland struck out in three pitches as a pinch hitter for Matt Goodheart.
Casey Opitz walked with two outs but the inning ended when Jack Kenley grounded out to first base.
Kevin Kopps is coming back to the mound for the bottom of the seventh.
Arkansas 7, USC 6 - End 6th Inning
CJ Stubbs' two-run single up the middle has the Trojans within a run. He advanced to second on a bad overthrow by center fielder Dominic Fletcher to the plate, but was thrown out by catcher Casey Opitz trying to steal third. Opitz has caught two runners tonight.
The inning ended on a flyout to Fletcher in the next at-bat.
The final line on Isaiah Campbell: 5 1/3 innings, 6 runs (3 earned), 6 hits, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts. He is in line to get the win.
Arkansas 7, USC 4 - Bottom 6th Inning
Isaiah Campbell's night is over with one out in the sixth. He gave up consecutive hits to Blake Sabol (single) and Jamal O'Guinn (double) to lead off the inning. Campbell got a slow roller back to the mound for the first out and neither USC runner could advance.
Kevin Kopps is in from the bullpen, ready to make his first appearance since his Tommy John surgery in the fall of 2017. USC's well-hitting catcher CJ Stubbs is at the plate.
I'll update Campbell's final line when the inning is over.
Arkansas 7, USC 4 - Middle 6th Inning
The Trojans intentionally walked Casey Martin to get to Heston Kjerstad, just like EIU did in the ninth inning last week.
Unlike that game, Kjerstad couldn't make USC pay. He worked the count full but struck out on a 3-2 breaking pitch by Brian Gursky.
Isaiah Campbell is coming back to the mound for the sixth inning. His pitch count is 71. I would imagine he could go about 80-85.
Arkansas 7, USC 4 - Top 6th Inning
Christian Franklin's two-out double off the wall in right field scored two runners to extend the Razorbacks' lead in the sixth inning. Franklin has been really good at getting on base in this series. He has a hit in both games, has walked three times and was hit by a pitch once.
The double scored Jack Kenley and Jacob Nesbit. Kenley reached on a fielder's choice to erase Casey Opitz's one-out single into left field. Jacob Nesbit drew a walk on a full-count pitch to bring Franklin to the plate. Franklin crushed a 0-1 pitch from USC left hander Brian Gursky.
Arkansas 5, USC 4 - End 5th Inning
Two great defensive plays helped Isaiah Campbell work around some trouble in the fifth. John Thomas led off the inning with a walk but he was thrown out at second base by Casey Opitz.
After returning to the windup, Campbell struck out No. 1 hitter Matthew Acosta for the second out. Chase Bushor had nice contact with two outs, but Jack Kenley made a diving stab to his right and threw him out to end the inning.
Minus the third inning tonight, the defense has been really good this series for the Razorbacks. Kenley is a difference maker up the middle.
Arkansas 5, USC 4 - Top 5th Inning
Casey Martin just crushed a ball over the boards in left field to give Arkansas the lead again. The two-run shot also scored Christian Franklin, who reached when he was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and stole second base.
That is the first home run of this series. Hitting homers at Dedeaux Field is difficult and it's even more so at night when the thick air comes in off the Pacific. That was a monster home run; very impressive.
USC has a pitcher up in the bullpen.
USC 4, Arkansas 3 - End 4th Inning
Isaiah Campbell is just a different pitcher out of the windup. Without runners on base he was dominant in the fourth, retiring all three USC batters with two strikeouts and a popup to the shortstop.
Campbell has such a wide delivery that it is hard to modify to the stretch. It is something to behold out of the windup.
Campbell's pitch count is at 60 through four innings. Another quick inning might get him into the sixth, but it looks like Arkansas' bullpen will need to do some heavy lifting tonight.
USC 4, Arkansas 3 - Middle 4th Inning
Trevor Ezell and Dominic Fletcher both drew walks to lead off the fourth, advanced on a bunt by Matt Goodheart and scored on Jack Kenley's two-out triple. Kenley was stranded at third when Jacob Nesbit grounded out to end the inning.
Ezell has reached in all seven of his plate appearances in this series.
USC 4, Arkansas 1 - End 3rd Inning
Jamal O'Guinn's two-out RBI single scored Chase Bushor to put the Trojans ahead by three runs. Only one of the four runs was earned because of the two Arkansas errors. USC had four hits in the inning.
It is fair to say Isaiah Campbell is a liability when runners are aboard. He has not pitched well in either of the innings that he has had to work out of the stretch this year, which of course was his kryptonite last season.
The Razorbacks have a lot of work to do to get back in this game, especially considering the USC pitcher.
USC 3, Arkansas 1 - Bottom 3rd Inning
Isaiah Campbell's struggles out of the stretch continue, but he wasn't helped by his defense.
Brady Shockey, John Thomas and Matthew Acosta singled in the span of five pitches to plate two runs with one out. Thomas' hit came on a hit and run. Casey Martin misread the ball and shaded toward second, then the ball went through the hole at shortstop.
Acosta's single went to Heston Kjerstad in right field. Kjerstad, like he did a few times in left field last year, overran the ball and allowed an extra run to score.
Chase Bushor bunted in the next at-bat and Campbell threw the ball away at first base, and a third run scored. Bushor is at second base with one out.
Arkansas 1, USC 0 - End 2nd Inning
Both pitchers retired the side without a runner in the second. It was the first inning in this series that Arkansas failed to put someone aboard.
Isaiah Campbell has retired five consecutive batters since the leadoff walk in the first inning. All three of his outs in the second were on contact - two fly outs and a ground out.
Arkansas 1, USC 0 - End 1st Inning
Dominic Fletcher's two-out RBI double off the wall scored Trevor Ezell from second base in the top of the inning. Ezell reached on a two-out walk and stole second.
Ezell has reached base in all six of his plate appearances so far this series. He also has three stolen bases.
Isaiah Campbell worked around a leadoff walk in the bottom of the inning by getting Chase Bushor to hit into a 4-6-3 double play. Campbell then struck out Blake Sabol to end the inning.
The Razorbacks and Trojans are set to begin at 8 p.m.
It will be another chilly night in Los Angeles with temperatures in the 40s. Unlike yesterday, no rain is in the forecast.
Tonight should be a good pitching matchup between two of the better junior right handers in college baseball. Arkansas' Isaiah Campbell had a perfect game going into the fifth inning last week, then struggled with his command while working out of the stretch, a theme that was recurring last season.
Baseball America rates USC starter Kyle Hurt the No. 185 prospect in the upcoming draft.
Hurt and Campbell both pitched in last year's series in Fayetteville, but not against each other. Campbell was the losing pitcher in a game in which he allowed 1 run on 3 hits and 3 walks in 5 1/3 innings. Hurt took a no-decision the following day when he allowed 1 run on 3 hits and 4 walks in 4 2/3 innings.
The Razorbacks are putting the same lineup on the field tonight as last night when they won 6-3. That includes Christian Franklin in left field and Matt Goodheart as the designated hitter.
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