FAYETTEVILLE – The fourth-ranked Arkansas Razorback baseball team suffered its first loss of the 2012 season on Sunday afternoon, falling 10-9 in 10 innings to Valparaiso at Baum Stadium.
The Razorbacks are now 7-1 on the season, while Valparaiso improves to 3-3.
With Arkansas trailing 9-8 in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Razorbacks were able to put together a game-tying rally, scoring once. Dominic Ficociello led off the inning with a double to left center and moved to third on a one out wild pitch. An 11-pitch walk to Jimmy Bosco put runners at the corners. Matt Vinson drove in the tying run with a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Ficociello and advancing pinch runner Brian Anderson to second base. Jacob Morris was unable to bring across the winning run as he fouled out to first to end the inning.
Valparaiso regained the lead with a run in the top of the 10th. Tanner Vavra doubled down the right field line to lead off the inning. After the next two batters struck out, Will Hagel was able to line an opposite field single into left, scoring Vavra and putting Valparaiso in front 10-9.
Arkansas wouldn’t go down without a fight in the bottom of the 10th. Jake Wise singled to left to start the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tim Carver. A ground out to second by Bo Bigham moved Wise to third. Sam Bates drew a walk and Dominic Ficociello was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs. Valpo closer Jarad Miller struck out Matt Reynolds to end the game and give the Crusaders the win.
Ficociello led the Razorbacks at the plate, reaching base all six times he came to the plate. He tied a career high with four hits, drew a walk and was hit by a pitch. He also drove in a run and scored three times. Bosco, Morris and Vinson each had two hits and an RBI. Morris also added his second home run of the season. Reynolds drove in a team-high three runs.
Hagel led the Crusaders with four hits in the win, while Steven Scoby and Vavra each added three hits. Vavra crossed home plate three times and Elliott Martin had three RBI.
Miller (1-0) earned the win for Valparaiso, giving up a run on two hits and striking out one in two innings. Nolan Sanburn (1-1) took the loss for the Razorbacks, striking out a career-high eight batters and allowing a run in three innings.
Each starter picked up a no decision in the contest. Making his first appearance of the season, Arkansas’ Randall Fant gave up four runs on six hits and tied a career high with five strikeouts in four innings. Valparaiso starter Kevin Wild allowed seven runs, six earned, on 10 hits in four innings.
Arkansas struck first with three runs in the bottom of the first. Joe Serrano walked with one out and moved to third on a hit-and-run single by Ficociello. Reynolds drove in both Serrano and Ficociello with a double to the left-center field gap. A single to left-center field by Bosco plated Reynolds for the third run of the inning.
The Razorbacks stretched the lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the second as Morris led off the inning with his second home run of the season, a solo blast into the Arkansas bullpen in left field.
Arkansas took a 5-0 lead with a run in the bottom of the fourth. John Clay Reeves reached on a throwing error by the third baseman to lead the inning off and Carver was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second. After the next two batters were retired, Ficociello came through with a RBI single to score Reeves.
Valparaiso cut the lead to one with a four-run top of the fifth. Bobby Cribbs and Scoby began the inning with back-to-back base hits. A single to left field by Mark Johnson scored Cribbs from second base for Valparaiso’s first run. Johnson advanced to second on the throw home, while Scoby moved to third. Vavra added an RBI single with a base hit to right field. After a ground out to the pitcher by Bain, a wild pitch scored Johnson and advanced Vavra to third base. Chris Manning drove in the fourth run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Arkansas answered with two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Three consecutive singles to start the inning loaded the bases with nobody out. Pinch hitter Jacob Mahan lined a single to left-center field to score Bosco. Carver added another run to Arkansas’ tally with a sacrifice fly to right field to put the Razorbacks in front 7-4.
The Crusaders grabbed their first lead of the game with five runs in the top of the sixth. With one out, Scoby reached on an infield single to short. With two outs, Vavra was hit by a pitch. Bain grounded a single to center field, scoring Scoby from second base. Morris was unable to come up with the ball in center field, allowing Vavra to score all the way from first on the play and sending Bain to second. A walk to Manning and an infield single by Hagel loaded the bases with two out. Elliott Martin cleared the bases with a double to left-center, scoring three runs and putting Valparaiso in front 9-7.
The Razorbacks got one run back in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Ficociello doubled to the right-center field alley and was able to reach third on a fielding error by the Valparaiso center fielder. Reynolds drove in Ficociello on a ground out to short, which trimmed the lead to 9-8.
Arkansas closes its 10-game homestand on Tuesday and Wednesday as it welcomes BYU to Baum Stadium for a two-game series. First pitch for each game is set for 3:05 p.m. Single-game tickets for both games are available and are $10 for reserved seats.