FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Jason Dill scored from third base on a passed ball in the top of the 11th inning to break a 7-7 tie as Florida went on to defeat Arkansas 8-7 in the opener of a three-game Southeastern Conference series at Baum Stadium.
The win snapped the Gators’ (16-13, 3-4 SEC) three-game losing streak in the series while the Razorbacks (15-13, 2-5 SEC) lost their fifth-straight conference game, including four in a row at home.
Kenny Birch (3-0) held Arkansas to one run (earned) on four hits in four innings of relief to earn the victory. UA reliever Wes McCrotty (0-4) got the loss with just two-thirds of inning on the mound. He loaded the bases in the 11th inning before Dill scored on Greg Blum’s passed ball.
A season-best crowd of 2,472 at Baum Stadium saw the Razorbacks rally from a 4-0 deficit after one inning to take a 6-4 lead after six innings. Florida scored three in the top of the seventh to go ahead 7-6.
With one out in the top of the ninth, UA’s Kyle Washburn doubled to right-center field to score Jack Welsh and tie the game at 7-7. Three batters later, Gator left fielder Matt Siegel fielded Jon Youngblood’s two-out single and threw out UA pinch runner Jeff Hoefler at home to send the game into extra innings.
Razorback starter Cliff Lee escaped with a no-decision for the second time in as many starts. Lee walked six and struck out six while giving up four runs (earned) on four hits in 4 1/3 innings. Florida starter Mike Smalley worked seven innings, giving up six runs (earned) on nine hits while striking out four.
Dill, Peter Nystrom and Tim Olson led the Gators with two hits each. Olson’s two-run homer in the first inning accounted for two of his game-high four RBI and put Florida up 4-0.
Brian Kirby, Justin Riley and Brad Hagedorn had two hits each to lead Arkansas offensively. Jack Welsh scored three runs and was hit-by-pitch three times to tie the school single-game record he set earlier this season. With 47 beanings in his career, Welsh’s next one will tie him with Ryan Lundquist for the UA all-time record.
The Hogs and Gators continue the series Saturday at 2 p.m. CT and Sunday at 1 p.m. CT. The Razorbacks will send Gary Hogan Jr. (2-1, 3.21 ERA) to the mound Saturday while Craig Mosher (0-2, 9.77 ERA) will start for Florida.