In 10 Southeastern Conference baseball series last year, Arkansas won two of them. In two Southeastern Conference baseball series this year, Arkansas has won two of them.
The Razorbacks beat Missouri two out of three times this past weekend, clinching the set with a 9-8 win on Sunday afternoon.
Sunday’s win also ensures Arkansas (20-5, 5-1) leaves Columbia, Mo., still atop the SEC West standings. The Razorbacks are tied with the team they finished in the basement with in 2016 — Auburn. A trip to second-to-last place Alabama comes next weekend.
First place nearly didn’t happen, though, as Arkansas almost choked a six-run lead over the final two innings.
The Diamond Hogs pounded out 12 hits, scoring runs in four different innings. Eight of nine starters reached base. Seven of nine scored a run. The team combined for three home runs. About the only thing that looked funky on their side of the box was that not a single hitter drew a walk.
Putting up four-run and three-run innings meant it didn’t matter much. Arkansas hung the 3-run spot in the second, countering Missouri’s one in the first. Dominic Fletcher hit his sixth home run of the season to lead off the second, turning on a pitch to right field. Carson Shaddy, Eric Cole and Jordan McFarland all followed with singles. McFarland’s scored Shaddy, and a Jake Arledge fielder’s choice later plated Cole.
The 4-run fourth inning provided necessary breathing room. Luke Bonfield reached on an error, allowing Arledge to score. And Grant Koch, tied for the SEC lead in home runs with eight, hit a three-run job a batter later to make the score 7-1.
After trading some runs, Missouri entered the eighth down by six, 9-3. It was suddenly just a two run lead when Cannon Chadwick struck out Kameron Misner with two outs and two on. But the ball got away Grant Koch behind the plate. Koch couldn’t find it before both the runners came around to score. Robbie Glendinning, the Missouri clean-up hitter, excited the crowd with a deeply-hit ball to right-center, but Cole tracked it down a step short of the warning track.
Josh Alberius, Arkansas’ long-time reliever, continued his recent streak as Sunday starter. He worked just 3 innings, but was generally fine, allowing a run on 4 hits and two walks. Alberius was still the pitcher of record when Arkansas had the four-run fourth.
Missouri belted Alberius’ relief, Barrett Loseke, a bit. Loseke made it just 1/3 an inning. He gave up three singles, including a two-run one, and a walk to the five batters he faced before Kevin Kopps came in. Kopps settled things until the eighth and went the next 3 2/3. Cannon Chadwick entered for Kopps in the eighth. The two gave up two apiece in the inning.
The Tigers brought the winning run to the plate in the ninth with two outs after a hit and a walk. Ian Nelson singled to center field to score one and send the other runner to second base. Chadwick, however, recorded a looking-strikeout to end things there.
Grading the Hogs
Three home runs continued Arkansas’ heavy hitting from the plate. The Hogs still lead the SEC in homers. A few manufactured runs, too, was helpful. Zero walks is pretty terrible, though.
Winning doesn’t automatically provide a winning grade. The four Arkansas pitchers who worked Sunday were a combined “mediocre.” Mostly they worked out of trouble … and around the way-too-many 9 walks.
The Big Arm + Stick
His numbers weren’t glimmering or anything, but Alberius was steady enough. Mostly that’s what’s needed in Sunday outings. Alberius looks like he’ll continue getting the call in the final games of series.
Stick: Carson Shaddy
Shaddy’s home run was the quietest of the Arkansas trio. But still Arkansas’ second leading hitter — batting .346 — Shaddy went 2 for 5 with 2 runs and 2 RBIs on Sunday.
What’s next for Arkansas?
The Razorbacks host SWAC school Grambling State on Wednesday at Baum Stadium. Arkansas likely will use younger and less experienced players ahead of an SEC weekend against Alabama.