Chris Murray: Hogs Open Mizzou Series with Win, Need Sweep


Trey Killian finally got some run support, and the Arkansas Razorbacks claimed a 9-4 victory over Missouri in Columbia on Thursday night, beginning the final Southeastern Conference series of the season.

That helps wash away the stain of Sunday’s disastrous loss to Texas A&M at Baum Stadium. The Hogs led 4-3 in the ninth, but the Aggies plated a pair of runs with the help of a Razorback error. Still, Arkansas sent it to extra innings with a run in the bottom of the ninth.

Texas A&M reclaimed the lead with a single run in the tenth, as Logan Nottebrok greeted shaky Hogs closer Michael Gunn with a leadoff homer. Arkansas then loaded the bases with no outs, only to have Andrew Benintendi and Brian Anderson strike out. Eric Fisher then flied out to end the game. A win would have completed the sweep for the Hogs and gotten them back over .500 in league play.

More importantly, it would have helped lock up an NCAA regional bid for the Hogs. Baseball America recently had the Hogs “barely hanging on” to a tournament berth, and a loss like that at this time of year can’t have helped.

Arkansas had squandered another stellar Killian outing on Friday, as the Aggies tied the score with a run in the ninth off Gunn. But Joe Serrano singled home the winning run in the bottom half, giving Arkansas a walkoff. On Saturday, Chris Oliver gave the Hogs another strong starting outing. Benintendi drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth, and Fisher clubbed a two-run blast to ice it.

Killian and the Hogs fell behind 1-0 after two innings on Thursday, but the Hogs rallied to take the lead 2-1 in the sixth. Mizzou pulled even with a second run off Killian, who left after six innings with nine strikeouts, but the hot-hitting Clark Eagan put the Hogs up for good in the seventh with a two-run blast. Anderson added a grand slam in the ninth to put it away, and finished with three hits, three runs scored and five RBIs.

The Hogs and Tigers meet again at 6 Friday, and then at 3 in Saturday’s finale before looking ahead to next week’s SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala. The Hogs are now 14-14 in SEC play and really need to sweep lowly Missouri, which easily has the worst league record at 6-22. Winning the next two get Arkansas to 35 wins, an SEC record over .500 and most certainly a trip to the regionals.

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There is currently an NCAA regional going on in Arkansas, with Arkansas Tech hosting the Division II Central Region tournament in Russellville. Tech defeated Augustana 4-2 Thursday night, with Ryan Taylor firing eight innings of three-hit baseball. Randy Vallejo pitched a scoreless ninth for his 17th save. Tech is 43-10 and ranked no. 5 in D-II. The Wonder Boys won the Great American Conference regular season title with a 25-5 record.

Southern Arkansas, the no. 2 seed, knocked off Arkansas-Monticello 11-4 earlier Thursday. Dylan Lynn went eight innings for the Muleriders, while Trevor Rucker went 5-for-5 with four runs scored. The third seed Minnesota State beat Emporia State 11-5.

UAM meets Augustana at noon Friday in an elimination game. Tech plays Emporia State at (approximately) 3:30, with SAU and Minnesota State set to meet at 7. The regional continues through Sunday, with the winner advancing to the double-elimination championship finals in Cary, N.C.

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UALR, looking to play a spoiler of sorts, knocked off Arkansas State 5-2 on Thursday in Little Rock, as the two teams began their season-ending Sun Belt Conference series. The Red Wolves are looking to lock up second place in league play heading into the conference tournament. The Trojans have had a disappointing season, stuck in last place. Everyone else in the SBC is looking up at top 5-ranked UL-Lafayette. The two teams meet again at 6 Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday at Hogan Field. Only the top eight advance to next week’s conference tourney in Mobile.

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Central Arkansas may be getting hot at the right time, with thoughts of repeating its inspired run through the Southland Conference tourney last season. The Bears swept Incarnate Word last weekend in Conway, and blasted New Orleans 14-0 on Thursday.

UCA pounded out 20 hits, with four belonging to Justin Treece. Nate Ferrell had three hits and three RBIs. Bryce Biggerstaff tossed a seven-inning complete-game four-hit shutout. UCA improved to 15-13 in Southland play and 27-21 overall. The Bears will host the Southland tournament starting next Wednesday.

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