FAYETTEVILLE - The No. 10 University of Arkansas baseball team dropped a 12-8 decision to Kentucky Friday night at Baum Stadium. The Wildcats scored eight runs over the first three innings to put Arkansas in an early hole. The Hogs pulled to within two runs in the seventh inning, but UK kept them at arms length. Andy Wilkins picked up three RBI, his fifth multi-RBI effort in Arkansas' last seven games.
"Kentucky did everything right," head coach Dave Van Horn said. "They played a great game and made some super plays in the field. I told the team, maybe it was just too much to overcome but we tried. We busted it and gave everything we had. They brought two outstanding pitchers out of the bullpen with good stuff and movement and we battled as best we could. The game just got away from us early."
The scoring started early Friday as the Wildcats plated three runs on three hits in the first inning. Chad Wright led off the game with a double to left field and eventually came around to score on an RBI infield single by Gunner Glad. The big blow, however, was a two-run home run by Braden Kapteyn which gave Kentucky the early 3-0 advantage.
The visitors padded their lead with a pair of runs in the second. With two outs, Wright doubled for the second time in as many at-bats to drive in Andy Burns. Chris Bisson knocked in the Wildcats' fifth run with an RBI single to left.
Arkansas starter Mike Bolsinger lasted just 2.1 innings against UK, his shortest outing of the season. He was lifted in the third but was charged with the three runs that scored for the Wildcats during the inning. Cory Farris led off the inning with a solo shot into the Razorback bullpen. Kentucky scored twice more to push its lead to 8-0 heading into the bottom of the third.
"We would have liked to have gone with Mike a little longer," Van Horn said. "But it was getting out of control and his stuff wasn't there. We did what we had to do."
After a slow start at the plate, the Hogs' offense showed signs of life with a four-run rally in the home half of the third. Jarrod McKinney got things started with a one-out walk and advanced to second on a groundout. Brett Eibner drove in Arkansas' first run with a single through the left side. The base hit started a streak of five consecutive singles, four of which were RBI hits by Eibner, Monk Kreder, Wilkins and Tim Carver
Kreder extended his current hitting streak to eight games, the longest of his 26-game Razorback career. With his RBI single, Wilkins pushed his hitting streak to seven. Arkansas cut its lead in half and trailed, 8-4, after four complete innings.
Arkansas tacked on another run in the fourth. Zack Cox had a two-out single to center to bring Collin Kuhn in to score. After having his 24-game hitting streak snapped in the Hogs' last game, Cox went 3-for-4 at the plate against Kentucky, his sixth three-hit effort of the season.
The Wildcats got that run back in the top of the sixth with a solo home run to left field by Glad. It is his fifth home run of the season.
The Razorbacks loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the seventh. Kuhn led off the inning with a high chopper into left field. Eibner and Cox followed with a walk and base hit, respectively, to put a Razorback at each bag. Kreder lifted a sacrifice fly into right, allowing Kuhn to score. Eibner came in to score next on a fielder's choice and Arkansas trailed by just two runs.
Kentucky responded with two runs in the top of the eighth and an additional score in the ninth to cap its 12-run effort. Burns closed out the Wildcats' offensive output with a solo home run in the ninth.
Arkansas' ninth-inning push fell short of the five runs needed to catch Kentucky. With two down and runners on first and second, Wilkins singled to right field to drive in the Razorbacks' final run of the game. Kentucky closer Matt Little, in a non-save situation, clinched the win with his second strikeout of the inning.
The two teams return to the field Saturday for game two of the weekend series with first pitch scheduled for 2:05 p.m. at Baum Stadium. It will be matchup of lefties as the Hogs are scheduled to start Drew Smyly (2-0, 1.69 ERA) while UK will go with Taylor Rogers (3-2, 3.99 ERA) on the mound.