BATON ROUGE, La. – Junior Casey Coon had four hits with three runs and three RBI to lead the University of Arkansas Razorback baseball team, but his heroics weren’t quite enough as Matt Gaudet hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning for the LSU Tigers at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., on Friday night giving the Tigers an 8-7 win.
Coon had two singles, a double and a home run for the Razorbacks breaking out a slump and giving the Razorbacks a chance to take the first game of the three-game set with the Tigers in a critical Southeastern Conference match up.
“I thought that it was good that we hung in there,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “We kept battling and came back and got hits, but not the big hits. I thought that the bullpen did well and I was happy that we got into their bullpen tonight.”
The game began with promise for the Razorbacks as Andy Wilkins singled with two outs in the top of the first then scored after Casey Cook took the first pitch he saw deep over the wall in left field for a 2-0 Arkansas lead. The Razorback advantage didn’t last long however as the Tigers came up in the bottom of the first and powered out four straight hits to open the inning and ended the first with a 4-2 lead on the scoreboard.
After allowing another run in the bottom of the second, Arkansas went into the third down by three looking to get back into the game. Brett Eibner drew a one out walk and advanced to second when Wilkins also saw four balls. Coon came up to the plate and picked up his third RBI of the game on a single up the middle, scoring Eibner and advancing Wilkins to third. Aaron Murphree was at the plate next and hit a soft diving liner to center that Leon Landry got a great jump on and made a diving catch which ended the inning and prevented the Razorbacks from making up more ground.
A solo shot by the Tigers in the bottom of the third made it a 6-3 game and LSU looked to pile on more in the bottom of the fourth, as they loaded the bases with just one out. Arkansas starter Cliff Springston kept his wits about him and got the next batter to line out to shortstop then ended the inning on a soft roller to first.
Arkansas got within a run in a long top of the sixth which saw just two Razorback hits and four LSU pitching changes. With one out, Coon singled for his third hit of the game followed by a Murphree walk. After the first pitching change of the game, Tim Smalling extended his heating streak to 13 games on a double into the left field corner which scored Coon and moved Murphree to third. Jacob House pinch hit against a third LSU pitcher and hit a sacrifice fly to deep right center field scoring Murphree. The inning would end with no more damage for the Tigers.
Arkansas took its second lead of the game in the top of the seventh with a two spot aided by an LSU error with two out. Brett Eibner led the inning off with a double down the third base line and was sacrificed to third by Logan Forsythe. With two outs, Coon hit a roller to shortstop that was played cleanly, but the throw was in the dirt allowing Coon to advance to second and Eibner to score. Murphree gave Arkansas the lead by lacing a curveball to center and scoring Coon.
Arkansas and LSU continue their series on Saturday afternoon with a 3:00 p.m. start from Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics please visit www.hogwired.com.