FAYETTEVILLE — No. 5 Arkansas broke a tie in the bottom of the seventh inning to take a 6-3 lead and then hold onto the lead over UCA at Baum-Walker Stadium.
The Hogs and UCA were tied at 3 heading to the bottom of the seventh. Kendall Diggs started off the rally with a one-out fly that center fielder Drew Sturgeon lost in the lights. Diggs got a double out of it. Caleb Cali then reached on a single to third base.
That is when, with two outs, Dave Van Horn pinch hit Brady Slavens for Jayson Jones. Slavens hit a chopper to the shortstop on the second base side of infield. The UCA fielder couldn’t decide to go to second for the force, but then opted to try and get Slavens at first. In a close call that went to review Slavens was called safe. Diggs scored on the play when UCA’s first baseman threw it away. Harold Coll was then hit by a pitch to load the bases. Hudson Polk drew a walk that allowed Cali for score. Slavens then scored on a wild pitch.
UCA tied the game at 3 in the top of the seventh when Noah Argenta hit a low pitch out of the zone into the bullpen in left field. The two-run home run also scored former Hog Trey Harris, who had pinch ran for Evan Hafley. Van Horn talked about how the seventh inning was a wild one even agreeing with a reporter who called it weird.
“It was,” Van Horn said. “We lined to the fence and it’s caught. We’re thinking when the ball leaves the bat, with the way the wind was blowing, maybe it would slice out of the park, but it just kind of pushed it down. You’re kind of going, ‘Man, maybe this isn’t going to be our might.’ Then we hit a ball up into the sky and they can’t see it and you saw what happened after that. Next thing you know, we’ve got our two runs back, plus one more. I thought (Christian) Foutch did a nice job of keeping it right there.”
UCA got onto the scoreboard first in the top of the second. Mason King, who reached on a hit by pitch, and advanced to second when Hafley also was hit by a Cody Adcock pitch. King then stole third and a throwing error resulted in him scoring.
The Hogs took a 3-1 lead in bottom of the second. With one out, Cali and Ben McLaughlin singled. After Jones struck out, Coll singled to left field to tie the game. Polk then singled. Tavian Josenberger singled to left allowing both McLaughlin and Coll to score.
Adcock was outstanding for the Hogs as a starter. He worked four innings, allowed a hit, one run and struck out three while facing 15 hitters. After Parker Coil pitched two innings, Christian Foutch came on to throw two innings. Foutch didn’t allow a hit and picked up the win in his first decision of the season. Former Bryant quarterback and pitcher Austin Ledbetter worked the ninth to earn his first save. Ledbetter allowed a single and hit a batter, but retired the other three he faced.
“I thought our pitching was pretty good for the most part,” Van Horn said. ” I thought Foutch’s stuff was outstanding. Again, he just pitched two days ago. He felt fine, he wanted to go back out but we wouldn’t let him for the ninth. He had a great first inning. I think 9 pitches he got them out. He also got a double play ball in the eighth when he was struggling. Then obviously Ledbetter came in and except for hitting a batter I thought he threw the ball fairly well. So that was good to see.”
UCA used five pitchers. Cade Fenton pitched well as the third one to the mound. In 4.1 innings, he allowed six hits, three runs, two earned and struck out four. Fenton (1-2) took the loss. Despite the loss, Van Horn praised Fenton.
“Give him credit, man,” Van Horn said. “He pitched great. We hit a couple balls hard off of him and didn’t get hits. Had a couple balls that weren’t hit very good and we got hits. But he held us down. You look at his ERA going into the game, he had a 10 ERA. I think he just threw — I think I had him down for like 28 pitches on Saturday, something like that. I’m just guess, I don’t think they were planning on pitching him that long, but he just kept rolling, so they let him roll. He did a really good job. He got the loss in the game, but he pitched good enough to win.”
The Hogs banged out 13 hits to seven for the Bears. Josenberger, Diggs, McLaughlin, Cali and Peyton Stovall each had two hits to lead the Hogs. Argenta and Sturgeon had two hits each for UCA. McLaughin faced his brother, UCA first baseman Jack McLaughlin. He talked about the last time they were in the same game.
“The last time we played together was senior year in high school,” McLaughlin said. “So it’s been awhile. And it was really just special to go out there and step on the field and be together. It was bittersweet at the same time because I know it’s probably the last time we’ll be able to step on the field together but it was just so much fun.”
Arkansas (30-7, 11-4) will now head to Georgia (20-17, 4-11) for a three-game series that begins Thursday at 6 p.m. and televised on the SEC Network. UCA (16-20, 7-8) will return to Bear Stadium to play host to Stetson (21-17, 9-6) for a three-game series that begins Friday at 6 p.m. Georgia faced Clemson on Tuesday night winning 5-4. Stetson took on UCF and lost 7-6.