FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas catcher James McCann capped a four-run ninth inning rally with a towering three-run, walk-off home run to left field to give the Razorbacks a 4-3 victory on Saturday night in front of a Baum Stadium-record crowd of 11,103 fans and a national television audience watching on ESPNU.
"I thought he (McCann) had taken a couple of good swings," Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. "He hooked the first one and then he hooked another one. That home run, he stayed on it. When it first left the bat, I didn't know if it was going to hook enough because of the win, but it stayed fair. He knew that it was gone right when he hit it. He put his head down and started jogging.
The Razorbacks improve to 22-8 on the season and 5-6 in Southeastern Conference play, while LSU is now 21-10 and 3-8 in league play. Arkansas earns its first SEC series win of the season and its first series win over the Tigers since the 2004 season when the Hogs swept LSU in a three-game series in Baton Rouge. This is Arkansas' first series win in Fayetteville since 2001.
A record crowd was on hand to see the dramatic finish as the actual attendance of 11,103 and the paid attendance of 11,462 were both stadium records. The previous attendance records of 11,434 (paid) and 11,014 (actual) were set against Arizona State on April 8, 2009.
It appeared that the crowd would go home unhappy after LSU plated three runs in the top of the ninth, but the Razorbacks had different ideas. Collin Kuhn was hit by a pitch to start the inning and then advanced to second base on defensive indifference. Sam Bates drove in Kuhn with a RBI single to right field. Kyle Atkins, who pinch ran for Bates, stole second with one out. Dominic Ficociello put runners at the corners with a single into right field setting up McCann's heroics. On the fourth pitch of the at bat, McCann just missed a home run, sending a 1-2 pitch 15 feet foul. Two pitchers later, McCann left no doubt, blasting a mammoth three-run, walk-off home run over the Arkansas bullpen in left field to give the Razorbacks a breathtaking 4-3 win.
McCann finished the game 2-for-4, including the game winner round-tripper, which tied him for the team high with his fifth of the season. Bates also had a pair of hits with a RBI.
Nolan Sanburn (2-1) earned the win in relief, giving up an unearned run with a strikeout in 0.2 of an inning.
Kevin Berry (2-1), who entered the game with a 0.59 ERA in 14 appearances, took the loss, allowing four runs on three hits in the ninth inning.
Both starters pitched well, but didn't factor into the decision. Arkansas starter Brandon Moore threw five shutout innings, giving up two hits with a strikeout. LSU starter Kevin Gausman was also impressive, scattering five hits over eight shutout innings with five strikeouts.
Trent Daniel also came in out of the Arkansas bullpen and threw well, surrendering two runs, just one earned, on a hit with three strikeouts in 3.1 innings.
Arkansas had the first scoring chance of the game in the home half of the second. Bates started the inning with a double to left field and Ficociello drew a one-out walk. A passed ball allowed the runners to move to second and third. Gausman got McCann to pop out to short for the second out of the inning and induced a groundout back to the mound by Jacob Rice to end the threat.
LSU started the fifth inning by putting the first two runners on base, but a 6-3 double play off the bat of Ty Ross put a runner on third with two outs. Trey Watkins fouled out to Kyle Robinson down the right field line to end the threat.
The Tigers broke the scoreless dead lock with three runs in the top of the ninth. With one out, Mikie Mahtook reached on a fielding error by Matt Reynolds at third base. A single to left field by Austin Nola advanced Mahtook to second. Mason Katz drove in both runners with a triple to the right-center field alley. JaCoby Jones then laid down a perfect safety squeeze to the right of the mound, scoring Katz to put LSU in front 3-0.
Katz led the Tigers with a pair of hits and two RBI. Mahtook and Nola each added a hit in the loss.
Arkansas looks for the three-game sweep on Sunday with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Sunday's game will be televised by CST (channel 119 in NW Arkansas). Arkansas will start sophomore southpaw Randall Fant (1-2, 2.88) while LSU will start senior right-handed pitcher Ben Alsup (4-3, 2.89).