MOBILE, Ala. – Jake Dugger connected for two home runs and four RBI as 20th-ranked Arkansas fought off a furious ninth-inning rally from South Alabama on Sunday to hold on for an 8-7 win at Stanky Field in the final game of the Jaguar Invitational.
The Jaguar’s scored three ninth-inning runs to pull within one, before Hogs’ closer Devin Collis got Billy Kleinschrodt to ground out to third base to end the game. The Razorbacks are 3-0 after their first weekend of play; South Alabama falls to 3-2 on the season.
It was the second time in Dugger’s Razorback career to hit two home runs in a game. He hit two against Vanderbilt on April 17, 2004. His four RBI also tied a career high set last season against Minnesota. Dugger finished the day 3-for-5 and finished the weekend with a .538 batting average.
Dugger’s second home run, a two-run shot in the seventh inning, was the big blow that gave the Hogs a 7-2 lead. UA had pushed two runs across prior to Dugger’s home run on a RBI triple by Craig Gentry and a RBI ground out on a bunt by Danny Hamblin.
“The bottom line is that we found a way to win,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “They are probably over there thinking they should have won, and maybe they should have. But we were able to take advantage of a couple of their mistakes and got some big hits. We really didn’t give them a whole lot. We didn’t panic and got out of that last inning with a win.”
South Alabama starting pitcher David Freese, the Jaguar’s everyday third baseman, went five innings, allowing one unearned run on three hits and striking out five. Chase Christianson took the loss for the Jags, allowing six runs- two earned – on five hits in two innings. Christianson also uncorked three wild pitches.
Dugger’s first home run of the season and the game gave Arkansas their first lead of the day at 3-2 in the sixth inning. Dugger connected on the two-run shot to right field following a Danny Hamblin single to left-center field to lead off the inning.
Jeff Cunningham led off the USA second inning with a sharp single to right field. The hit was the first surrendered by an Arkansas pitcher in 13 innings, dating back to the sixth inning of Friday’s game with George Mason.
The Jaguars broke through against Arkansas starting pitcher Charley Boyce in the bottom of the third inning with a single tally. USA plated the run when Patrick Cunningham grounded into a double play that scored Joel Collins.
The Razorbacks scratched out their first run in the top of the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly from Ben Tschepikow.
Boyce started his 46th game on the mound for the Hogs, tying the school record held by Scott Tabor (1979-82) and Kevin Campbell (1984-86). Boyce, who was on a pitch count, left the game after four innings of work. He allowed two runs – both earned – on six hits while striking out two.
James Gilbert made his first appearance of the season and earned the win after two scoreless innings. He was replaced by Daryl Maday who worked 1.1 innings, allowing two runs – one earned – on four hits. Trey Holloway pitched two-thirds of an inning, surrendering two runs before Collis entered and closed things out.
The Hogs added what proved to be the winning run in the eighth inning on a throwing error on the Jags right fielder after he caught a fly ball off the bat of Stephen Robison. The error gave Arkansas their decisive eighth run.
The Hogs are on the road again next week in Edinburg, Texas, facing TCU, Stephen F. Austin and host Texas-Pan American.