A week full of strong pitching performances could not save the punchless Razorback offense as the Diamond Hogs fell short of an SEC title after losing to Ole Miss on Friday.
Arkansas’ first contest against the 7-seeded Ole Miss Rebels ended in a 5-3 victory behind a clutch hit from junior second baseman Jack Kenley. Kenley’s key single drove in two Hogs, which gave the team a 4-3 lead in the sixth inning.
Freshman pitcher Patrick Wicklander started his thirteenth game of the season Wednesday, giving up two runs on two hits in 4 ⅓ innings while tallying four strikeouts. Redshirt junior Kevin Kopps, redshirt junior Cody Scroggins, junior Jacob Kostyshock and junior Matt Cronin all contributed for 4 ⅔ innings out of the pen, giving up a combined one run on three hits and fanning a combined eight batters. Cronin, who struck out all four of the batters he faced, secured a four-out save, his eleventh of the season.
The Hogs lost the second game of the tournament 3-1 as the 3-seeded Georgia Bulldogs prevailed in a late-inning comeback.
Arkansas led 1-0 until the seventh inning, when Georgia infielder Connor Tate provided a pinch-hit RBI double off of Hogs’ sophomore reliever Kole Ramage, tying the game at one. Arkansas’ Jacob Kostyshock took over in the next inning and got into trouble as Georgia led off with a double. Later in the inning, Georgia first baseman Patrick Sullivan poked a double down the left field line that just stayed fair, giving the Bulldogs a 3-1 lead.
Redshirt junior Isaiah Campbell started for the Hogs and threw five scoreless innings, allowing only two hits and recording three strikeouts. It was his 14th outing this season in which he has thrown five or more innings.
It was the second consecutive five-hit performance from Arkansas, and it was the second consecutive game in which no Arkansas batter registered more than one hit.
Arkansas’ first four hitters went 0-for-17 with seven strikeouts as the lineup again struggled to get runners on base. The Hogs did not register an RBI for the first time since March 23, when they were shut out by Alabama.
Arkansas was eliminated by Ole Miss in its third game of the tournament, as late-game heroics downed Arkansas once again in a 3-2 defeat.
Arkansas got out to an early lead thanks to a two-run homer in the fourth inning by sophomore Matt Goodheart, the first home run of the tournament for the Hogs.
Ole Miss cut Arkansas’ lead to one in the fifth inning off of a solo home run, the only blemish on freshman Connor Noland’s near-perfect statline. Noland threw five innings and gave up only two hits, one run, one walk and struck out two.
The Rebels scored two runs on a single and a sacrifice fly after sophomore reliever Zebulon Vermillion allowed two baserunners on a walk and a hit batsman.The Rebels held onto the lead to the final score, 3-2.
Runs came at a premium in all three of Arkansas’ games in Hoover, and Friday’s contest was no exception. Arkansas’ offense had only five hits for the third game in a row, and Goodheart became the first Hog to have a multi-hit game in the tournament, as he went 2-for-3 with two RBIs. It was the first game of the tournament that the Hogs outhit the opposing team as the Rebels managed only three base hits.
The Hogs’ batting average for the tournament was .160 including a 7-for-43 mark (.163) with runners on base.
The Razorback arms were stellar. The team ERA was 3.24 over the three games, and their opponent batting average was .169.
The Hogs lost four of their last five games after beating Texas A&M on May 16 and have tallied just nine runs and five extra-base hits in that span.
The Hogs will look to bounce back from their recent struggles this weekend. Arkansas’ quest to return to the College World Series begins May 31 at Baum-Walker Stadium after the Razorbacks were selected to serve as a host in one of the 16 NCAA Regionals for the third year in a row. The Razorbacks will face off against Central Connecticut State in their first game, with California and TCU squaring off in the other matchup in Fayetteville.
The Razorbacks (41-17) are ranked No. 5 for the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year. Arkansas has been impeccable at home this season, posting a 28-6 record at Baum-Walker Stadium. The Hogs finished the season 20-10 against SEC opponents, which is only the second time in school history they’ve won 20 or more SEC games.
First pitch for the Arkansas-Central Connecticut game is scheduled for 1 p.m.