FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – No opossum was required this year for LSU’s comeback.
Arkansas handed the game over to the visiting Tigers without the marsupial good-luck charm for LSU on Saturday night. The Razorbacks, simply put, choked it away.
Arkansas (25-7, 8-3) carried a six-run lead, 8-2, into the top of the eighth inning. LSU won by two runs, 10-8, by the bottom of the ninth.
LSU (21-11, 6-5) scored one in the seventh, three in the eighth and five in the ninth to cap the comeback. That final half-inning was nothing short of a disaster.
LSU plated five runs off that. All Cannon Chadwick’s doing. The inning before it was Kevin Kopps who gave up three runs on two hits and a walk in his 2/3 of an inning.
The rally was reminiscent of last year’s Game 2 at LSU. Arkansas led that game 9-1 heading to the bottom of the fifth and lost 10-9. It was the #RallyPossum game when the four-legged mammal made its way onto the field about midway through. It became LSU’s rallying cry the rest of the year.
No superstition Saturday. Just mistake. An excellent start by Trevor Stephan was wasted, as was an otherwise solid offensive night.
The Razorbacks scored runs in each of the first five innings. A two-run spot in the first was followed with three in the second, then each in the subsequent three. Jared Poche entered the game for LSU on Saturday having allowed six earned runs in 47 innings. Teams were hitting just .178 off him.
Arkansas dropped him for seven runs in 3 1/3 innings. The lineup had nine hits off him in 18 at-bats – a .500 batting average.
The lead was 8-1 as late as the top of the seventh, when LSU put together a couple of back-to-back scoring innings. One run came in the seventh, then another in eighth, then two more when Greg Deichmann hit his 10th home run of the season, a two-run shot, immediately after.
Then came the grease fire.
The Razorbacks brought the winning run to the plate with no outs in the ninth, though, after Evan Lee walked and Eric Cole doubled. But Jax Biggers popped out to second, Jake Arledge flew out to right and after an intentional walk to Chad Spanberger, Luke Bonfield struck out to end the game.
Arkansas remains tied for first in the SEC, however, after Kentucky and Auburn both lost Saturday, as well.
Grading the Hogs
It dragged somewhat in the final couple innings, but after scoring runs in each of the first five, it’s hard to find fault in a leveling off. Biggers had three hits and a walk and Spanberger had three hits and two walks. Arledge had a hit and three walks.
Probably couldn’t have asked for more from Stephan. He bounced back nicely following two sub-par Saturdays. Kopps didn’t help himself, though, giving up all three in the eighth. Chadwick might want to have U of A scrap that brand-new “Terminator” intro video, too.
The Big Stick + Arm
Stephan’s night was even better than Knight’s on Friday. He didn’t walk a soul and K’d seven in his seven innings. He and Knight together are starting to become the toughest Friday-Saturday combo in the SEC.
No hotter hitter in Arkansas’ lineup right now than Chad Spanberger. He hit another massive home run Saturday – this after his nearly 430-foot jack Friday – and upped his batting average to .292. He’s a unique 2-hole hitter, that’s for sure. But it’s Dave Van Horn making the decisions, what did you expect?
What’s next for Arkansas?
The Razorbacks will seek to win the series in Sunday’s finale at 1 p.m. Later this week Arkansas hosts Missouri State (Tuesday, 6:35 p.m.).