Chris Murray: Defense Costs Razorbacks Series Finale with Rebels

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Five Arkansas errors led to five unearned runs, as the Razorbacks kicked away the rubber game with Ole Miss on Sunday, 6-4 in 13 innings, handing the Rebels a series win.

The five errors on Sunday ran the season total to a whopping 33 in 21 games. None were more damaging than the last two against the Rebels. Catcher Jake Wise and reliever Brandon Moore each made errant throws on bunt attempts in the 13th, leading to the winning runs for the Rebels.

Joe Serrano capped a three-run rally in the seventh with a two-out, two-RBI single, giving the Hogs a 4-3 lead. But the Rebels evened the score in the eighth, and Arkansas couldn’t come through in the late innings. Arkansas finished with 10 hits, but just one went for extra bases.

Starter Ryne Stanek was victimized by the shoddy defense. He pitched into the fifth, and just one of his three runs allowed was earned. Stanek easily could have left the game without allowing a run, and his performance was encouraging.

On Friday, a wind-aided grand slam by the Rebels’ Pretson Overbey deflated a large Arkansas crowd and starting pitcher Trey Killian. After the Hogs took a 1-0 lead in the first, Killian had control problems before Overbey lifted a fly ball into the jet stream. It just cleared the fence, but it was all that Ole Miss starter Bobby Wahl would need. He limited the Hogs to three hits in a 7-1 victory. Killian had been impressive against non-conference foes, but Friday nights in the SEC is a different ballgame.

The Razorbacks recovered on Saturday, pounding out 11 hits in a 10-1 romp. Left-hander Randall Fant took a big step in solidifying his spot in the weekend rotation with six innings of one-run baseball. Serrano proved to be a star at the plate all weekend, with three more hits on Saturday, but the Hogs couldn’t carry over that production to Sunday.

Arkansas faces a daunting challenge in its first SEC road series, traveling to Columbia, S.C., for three games with the national runner-ups South Carolina Gamecocks. It’s a no-brainer, really, but it’s almost impossible to compete against top-10, SEC competition with the abysmal defense the Hogs have been playing.

Arkansas State swept Arkansas-Little Rock in the Sun Belt Conference opening series at Gary Hogan Field, running its dominant streak over the Trojans to 12 straight games. The Red Wolves won 7-5 on Sunday, but the real highlight came on Saturday.

Collin Massanelli mashed three home runs to help ASU (14-6) erase a 7-1 deficit and win 9-7. Massanelli’s third blast of the day came in the ninth inning, and it tied the score at 7-7. Claude Johnson doubled home the go-ahead run for the Red Wolves.

After midweek games at Missouri, ASU hosts Florida International for a three-game set this weekend. UALR fell to 10-10 on the season . The Trojans play at Louisiana Tech on Tuesday and at South Alabama this weekend.

Central Arkansas improved to 17-3 on the season after taking two out of three games from Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss. The Bears dropped a 2-1 contest on Sunday, unable to complete the sweep. UCA travels to UA-Pine Bluff on Tuesday before opening Southland Conference play this weekend in Tulsa with Oral Roberts.

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