Friday May 22, 2009No. 20 Arkansas Eliminates No. 9 Baseball, 10-7
A five-run fourth inning helped seventh-seeded Arkansas (34-21) send second-seeded Florida (39-20) home from the 2009 SEC Tournament on Friday, 10-7. The Hogs captured all five encounters against the Gators this season, collecting a sweep in Fayetteville in mid-March and also notched a pair of wins this week at Regions Park.
The 20th-ranked Razorbacks stay alive and will need to defeat eighth-seeded Vanderbilt (33-24) twice tomorrow to reach Sunday’s championship game. Meanwhile, the ninth-ranked Gators will return to Gainesville and await Monday’s NCAA Tournament selection show that will air live on ESPN at 12:30 p.m. The 16 host sites for the four-team Regionals will be broadcast on the Bottom Line of the ESPN Networks Sunday afternoon at approximately 3:30 p.m.
Sophomore Sam Murphy (3-1) earned the victory after 3.1 innings out of the bullpen in which he scattered four hits and yielded zero earned runs. Freshman Zack Cox went 2-for-3, blasted a towering two-run shot and collected his first career save with two scoreless and hitless innings. Freshman Travis Carver (1-for-2) had a pair of RBI courtesy of sacrifice bunts and freshman Bo Bigham was 2-for-3 and scored twice. For the Gators, senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) was 3-for-4 and tallied two RBI and junior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) cranked a two-run homer.
Thanks to a Gator fielding error, Arkansas opened the scoring in the home part of the second with two unearned runs. Sophomore Travis Sample began the inning with a two-bagger to left field and moved to third on a wild pitch by freshman Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.). Bigham followed with a walk for runners on the corners and junior shortstop Mike Mooney (Loxahatchee, Fla.) missed freshman Jarrod McKinney’s line drive that allowed Sample to score the first run. Still with runners on the corners and none out, Maronde came through with a strikeout of Cox. Soon after, Carver laid down a squeeze bunt to bring across Bigham for a 2-0 lead.
Maronde plunked senior Chase Leavitt to start the third, a passed ball by junior Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.) moved the runner to second and freshman Collin Kuhn sacrificed his teammate to third. After Maronde hit sophomore Andy Wilkins, he was replaced by freshman Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.). The southpaw worked 2.1 innings, allowing one hits, with three strikeouts, two hit batters and one walk. Larson had Sample ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play to hold the deficit at two runs.
The Gators seized a 3-2 lead in the fourth on a two-out, bases-loaded single by McArthur that scored two runs and an Arkansas error on the play allowed the go-ahead run to come home. Senior Avery Barnes (High Springs , Fla.) opened the stanza with a single through the left side and swiped his team-leading 15th stolen base. Freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) drew a one-out walk after a 10-pitch at bat and sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville , Fla.) (2-for-4) singled sharply to left field to fill the bases. Drew Smyly had freshman Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) hit into a fielder’s choice that forced Barnes at the dish. McArthur ripped a base-knock up the middle to plate Barnes and Tucker and a fielding miscue by center fielder Kuhn enabled Adams to score. Junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) earned a free pass from Smyly (3.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 2 K) to cause a pitching change. den Dekker stole second for a pair of runners in scoring position but Murphy caught Munroe looking on strikes to end the inning.
Arkansas responded in the bottom of the fourth with five runs on four hits and an error to re-claim the lead, 7-3. Larson hit McKinney with one down and Cox cranked his ninth round-tripper of the year, third against the Gators, to deep right field off the scoreboard. McCann singled on a hit-and-run for runners on the corners to end the afternoon for Larson (1.0 IP, 3 H, 4 R). Leavitt ripped an RBI double off junior Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) for a 5-3 score and then the southpaw walked Kuhn on four pitches to load the bags with one down. A fielder’s choice by Wilkins brought across McCann and a throwing error by Mooney trying to complete a double play expanded the margin to 7-3 and caused another pitching change. Junior Jeff Barfield (Perry, Ga.) took over for Davis, who lasted one-third of an inning, and had Sample ground out.
UA tacked on another run in the sixth on an RBI single by Kuhn off junior Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.) that scored McCann, who had drawn a leadoff walk.
The Gators narrowed the deficit to 8-7 with four unearned runs in the seventh, highlighted by a two-out, two-run homer by Pigott. McArthur led off with the inning with his third hit and den Dekker delivered a ground-rule double to left to put Florida in business. Murphy jammed Munroe on a fly-out to center, struck out Mooney and seemed to be out of the inning unscathed. However, Carver committed a throwing error on Barnes’ grounder that pulled the Orange and Blue within 8-5. Pigott rocked Murphy’s first pitch to left for his fifth homer, third in the last two days. Oddly enough, Pigott’s three homers in the SEC Tournament matched Mike Stanley’s school record for homers in a career at the event.
The Razorbacks countered again with two runs on two hits in the home part of the seventh to build a three-run cushion. Bigham singled with one down, stole second and McKinney walked before Cox stroked an RBI single into right field to end the afternoon for Bullock (2.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R). Senior Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) entered with runners on the corners and Carver laid down a sac bunt to score McKinney for a 10-7 lead. Keating threw 1.2 scoreless innings and totaled two strikeouts.