Arkansas Holds Off Clemson 9-6; Conner, Pitts
BY ANDRES FOCIL
CLEMSON, S.C. – The Arkansas Razorbacks held off an eighth inning rally by the home-standing Clemson Tigers to pullout a 9-6 victory in the first round of the NCAA Super Regional.
The Razorbacks improved to 35-26 overall, while the Tigers dropped to 50-15. The teams will meet in game two of the best-of-three series Saturday at 6:15 p.m. (CT). The winner of the series advances to the NCAA College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
Charlie Isaacson evened his record at 7-7 after going seven and two-thirds innings to earn the victory. Isaacson allowed five runs, all earned, on 11 hits with five strikeouts and won his 21st career game at Arkansas.
Gary Hogan, Jr., earned his third save of the year and second in the postseason after going one and one-third innings allowing one run, earned, on one hit. Hogan fanned two and pitched a perfect ninth inning.
Clemson starter Steve Reba dropped to 13-3 with loss after giving up five runs, all earned, on seven hits.
Playing in the program’s first NCAA Super Regional, the Razorbacks showed no signs of jitters as they tallied four runs on five hits on Clemson starter Steve Reba in the first inning.
Kirk McConnell started things off with a single through the right side. On a hit-and-run play, Scott
Bridges singled up the middle to advance McConnell to third. Michael Conner then plated both runners with a triple off the wall in centerfield. It was Conner’s second triple of the season.
Nick Pitts brought Conner home with a ground out to first for a 3-0 Arkansas advantage. With one out, Andrew Wishy laced a double down the right field line. Cody Clark gave the Hogs a 4-0 lead with a single to center that scored Wishy.
The Razorbacks added a run in the top of the second inning. Scott Hode doubled to lead-off the inning, but was tagged out at third on a fielder’s choice by McConnell. Bridges walked to put runners on first and second for Conner, who flew out to center for the second out of the inning. Pitts then stepped to the plate and lined a double down the left field line to score McConnell and give the Razorbacks a 5-0 lead.
Pitts’ double chased Reba who lasted just one and one-third innings, allowing five runs, all earned, on seven hits. Reba walked one and did not have a strikeout in his shortest outing of the year. Reba was relieved by lefty Thomas Boozer.
Boozer held the Hogs in check until the fifth inning. Wishy singled and moved to third on a double to center by Clark. Clay Goodwin then singled to left to plate Wishy for a 6-0 advantage. Ryan Fox made it 7-0 with a double to deep center that scored Clark.
Boozer was lifted for Patrick Hogan who walked McConnell intentionally to load the bases with two outs. Hogan ended the inning by forcing Bridges to ground out to second.
After holding the high-powered Tigers scoreless through four innings, Isaacson was touched up for a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth. Isaacson retired the first two batters of the inning, but Michael Johnson singled and moved to third on a double by Roberto Valiente. Jarrod Schmidt plated both runners with a single to center to cut the Razorback lead to 7-2. After a single by Kyle Frank put runners on first and second, Steve Pyzik grounded to Hode at short who forced Frank out at second to end the inning.
Clemson made it a 7-6 game with four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Pyzik walked with one out and moved to third on a double by Zane Green. Khalil Greene plated both runners with a single to center make it a 7-4 game. Isaacson was then lifted for Gary Hogan, Jr., who entered the game with one on and two outs.
Jeff Baker greeted Hogan’s first pitch by taking it over the right-centerfield wall to make it a one-run game. Hogan fanned Johnson to end the inning.
The Razorbacks responded in the top of the ninth with a pair of insurance runs. Andrew Wishy reached on a passed ball on a swinging third strike. Cliff Crouse pinch-ran for Wishy and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Clark. Following a walk to Goodwin, Crouse moved to third on a wild pitch and scored when Clemson shortstop Khalil Greene threw wildly on fielder’s choice by Fox. Goodwin moved to third on the play and scored when Fox was caught in a run down on a pickoff play to give the Hogs a 9-6 lead.
Hogan set the Tigers down in order in the ninth to preserve the win and put the Razorbacks one win away from going to the College World Series.
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