FAYETTEVILLE - The No. 15 University of Arkansas baseball team dropped a 5-2 decision to Ball State Saturday afternoon at Baum Stadium. Playing catch up the entire game, the Razorbacks (1-1) had their opportunities to even the score or take the lead, but 12 runners left on base kept the home team on the short end of game two's outcome.
"We had our chances," head coach Dave Van Horn said. "We had guys that didn't put the bat on the ball, completely opposite of last night where we're driving in runs with sacrifice flies. There were a couple of times where we had a runner on third with less than two outs and couldn't get them in."
Ball State (1-1) struck early with two runs in the top of the first inning. An error at third base by Zack Cox put a runner at first and Kolbrin Vitek drove in the run with a triple to right center. Vitek eventually came around to score the second run on a sacrifice fly to give his team the 2-0 lead. Arkansas starter Geoffrey Davenport got out of the inning with a strikeout to limit the damage to two runs.
After stranding Jarrod McKinney in scoring position in the bottom of the first, the Razorbacks cut their deficit in half with James McCann's RBI single in the second. Monk Kreder led off the inning with a walk but was erased on a fielder's choice that left Brett Eibner on first. On a balk by Ball State starter Cal Bowling, Eibner stood at second and crossed the plate on the hit by McCann.
Both teams left a pair of runners on base in the third inning. After his shaky start, Davenport settled down to pitch four effective innings. The sophomore left hander allowed four hits, walked none and struck out seven Cardinal hitters. In the top of the fourth, Davenport's last inning of work, he struck out the side swinging on just 12 pitches.
With one out in the bottom of the fourth, McCann got into scoring position with a line drive down the left field line that landed on the chalk and the sophomore catcher pulled into second with his first double of the young season. However, Matt Vinson struck out and Matt Reynolds fouled out to the shortstop to end the inning.
The Cardinals pushed another run across the plate in their half of the sixth when Vitek scored after leading off the inning with a single. He came around to score on a double-play ball to up the visitors lead to 3-1.
Arkansas got that run back in the next half inning. Kreder opened the inning with a single to left field. On as a pinch runner, Kyle Atkins stole second. Eibner followed with a walk to give the Hogs two on with no outs. McCann laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third. Atkins came in to score when a pitch got away from Ball State catcher Kevin Franchetti. The scoring chance ended when BSU reliever, and game winner, Morgan Coombs struck out the last two hitters of the inning.
The Razorbacks left the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh and Ball State increased their lead to the final margin with a two-run home run by Zach Dygert. Coombs worked out of trouble in the eighth inning and retired the side in order in the ninth to secure the victory for the visiting Cardinals.
The series finale between Arkansas and Ball State is scheduled for a 1:05 p.m. first pitch Sunday at Baum Stadium. Sunday's probable starters are Eibner for the Hogs and Vitek for the Cardinals.