FAYETTEVILLE – The No. 15 University of Arkansas baseball team lost a 10-7 decision to Washington State Sunday at the NCAA Fayetteville Regional. The Razorbacks got home runs from James McCann, Collin Kuhn and Monk Kreder. Trailing by six runs entering the bottom of fifth inning, Arkansas (42-19) scored five unanswered runs over the next three innings to pull to within one but their rally was stopped short. The win by the 23rd-ranked Cougars forces a decisive rematch Monday at Baum Stadium at 7:05 p.m.
"In a couple of situations, we let some things get away from us, defensively," head coach Dave Van Horn said. "I thought we did a great job of fighting back. Any time you give up five runs in one inning, there is a possibility of letting it snowball on you, but we came climbing back and were right there. They brought in their Friday night starter and he did a pretty good job. We hit some solo home runs off him but other than that, he held us down."
Washington State (37-21) took advantage of an error in top of the first inning to score an unearned run and grab the early lead. With a runner on first after a leadoff walk, Cody Bartlett tapped a ball up the middle that was gloved by Arkansas starter Mike Bolsinger but his throw to second was wild and allowed the lead runner to advance to third. Later in the frame, Matt Vinson caught what would have been the third out, a sacrifice fly by Matt Fanelli that plated Garry Kuykendall.
Fanelli collected his second RBI with a base hit to give the Cougars a 2-0 advantage. Washington State had runners on first and second with one out when Fanelli singled to right center to drive in Bartlett. Bolsinger plunked Michael Weber with a 0-2 pitch to load the bases but the right-handed senior got out of the inning with a strikeout and groundball out to limit the damage to one run.
Arkansas posted its first run of the ballgame in the home half of the third. Vinson drew a walk out of Washington State starter James Wise and eventually moved up to second on a balk. With one away, Bo Bigham singled up the middle to bring Vinson home. Bigham finished with a 3-for-5 performance at the plate with two RBI. Wise, making his second start of the day, tossed three innings and left the game with the 2-1 lead. He also started the Cougars’ elimination game against Kansas State in Sunday’s first game.
Washington State tagged Bolsinger for five runs in the top of the fifth to extend their lead to 7-1. Derek Jones and Weber drove in the first two runs with a double and single, respectively. A pair of bunt singles helped the Cougars load the bases. After a force at the plate for the first out, Shea Vucinich doubled down the line in left field to bring in two more runs. It was the final hitter of the game for Bolsinger who was relieved by Christian Kowalchuk. The visiting club scored its final run of the inning when Ryan Peterson tagged up to cross home on a foul out.
With Kowalchuck pitching effectively, the Hogs began to chip away at their deficit with two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Bigham collected his second hit of the day and Zack Cox drew a walk to give Arkansas a pair of base runners. A wild pitch by reliever Connor Lambert allowed the runners to move up to second and third. With two in scoring position, Kreder delivered with a two-run double to left.
Solo home runs by McCann and Kuhn in the bottom of the sixth frame brought the Razorbacks closer. McCann deposited a 3-2 offering from Lambert into the Hog Pen for his ninth home run of the season, and third of the weekend. Kuhn put another run on the board with a solo shot into the Arkansas bullpen, his 16th home run of the season. It was also his fourth long ball of the Fayetteville Regional.
Arkansas’ scored its fifth unanswered run and closed the gap to one run in the bottom of the seventh. Lambert struck out the first two hitters of the inning but Kreder made a dent with a solo home run to left field, the Hogs’ third solo shot of the game. Kreder has hit safely in 13 of his last 15 contests.
"We always talk about how solo shots don’t beat you," Kreder said. "We didn’t come up with the big hit. They executed what they needed to do. It’s frustrating but there is another game tomorrow and we’ll be ready."
Defensively miscues aided Washington State in scoring three runs to regain momentum in the top of the eighth. A fielding error by Andy Wilkins, put runners on first and second and with one out, Jones singled through the right side to plate the first run. Jordan Pratt came out of the bullpen needing two outs to get Arkansas out of the inning. Facing his first hitter, Pratt induced a groundball off the bat of Fanelli but another error, this time by Tim Carver, cost the Hogs an out. The Cougars went on to score two unearned runs to push their lead to 10-6.
The Razorbacks’ last threat came in the bottom of the eighth. Vinson hit a two-out double to the wall in right center and moved up to third on a wild pitch. After Kuhn drew a walk, Bigham had an RBI base hit to center to plate Vinson. With Cox at the plate and two runners on, WSU hurler Chad Arnold buckled down for the strikeout to end the inning and Arkansas’ potential threat.
Monday’s matchup between Arkansas and Washington State will decide who advances out of the Fayetteville Regional. The winner will face top-ranked Arizona State, winner of the Tempe Regional, in the Super Regional round. Host sites for the next round of the 2010 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship will be announced Monday night. For more information, log on to the Fayetteville Regional Central page at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.