One more day.
The Arkansas baseball team will have a final chance to sew up a top-four SEC finish after Texas A&M won the teams’ Game 2 on Friday night, 5-2. The Aggies scored their first four runs in the third inning and added one of insurance in the seventh to force a rubber match.
Texas A&M can’t overtake the Razorbacks in the SEC standings, but it can keep Arkansas from a first-round bye in next week’s SEC Tournament. The league’s top four finishers receive immunity from a Tuesday game in which the loser would be eliminated from the tourney. Everything else that follows is double-elimination. Arkansas, too, could have clinched a 4-seed (at worst) with a win Friday and a Mississippi State loss. The Diamond Hogs need to finish the final series of the regular season with one more win than MSU to finish the top four.
The Aggies made certain that wouldn’t happen Friday as Corbin Martin kept Razorbacks hitters off-balance all game. Martin went eight innings, gave up eight hits and just a long walk. The biggest deal were his strikeouts. He sat down 12 Arkansas hitters with a strikeout.
Meanwhile, Texas A&M nicked up Arkansas starter Dominic Taccolini just once but it was major. A three-run home run from Hunter Coleman did the bulk of the damage. Taccolini gave up a pair of singles, a sacrifice fly and a walk to lead up to it. Coleman’s blast countered and made moot Jared Gates’ RBI single in the top half of the inning.
Martin played even better with the lead. He struck out eight of his 12 after the Aggies went ahead. Arkansas did tag him for the eight hits, but the problem was timeliness. Razorbacks hitters went just 4 of 13 with runners on base and 1 of 7 with them in scoring position.
Grading the Hogs
The Diamond Hogs kept getting runners on base, but rarely was able to do anything with them. Part of it was Martin rolling out of jams and part of it was self-inflicted difficulty.
Taccolini was actually OK. The numbers were worse than the outing. You know you’re going to see him walk some batters, so that is what it is. But other than the home run, he limited things. Thing is, the homer still counts against.
The Big Stick + Arm
Arm: Cannon Chadwick
He faced just three batters and an error from his fielders allowed a run to score. Still, he retired the other two and left Arkansas with a chance in the late innings. Point being: it wasn’t a great day for Razorbacks pitchers.
Stick: Eric Cole
His 2 for 3 night was the best on the team. Both hits were doubles and Cole scored a run.
What’s next for Arkansas?
The series finale is Saturday morning at 11 a.m. It’s the first game of the day on the SEC schedule.