LEXINGTON, Ky. – No. 9 Arkansas handed No. 12 Kentucky its first loss of the 2007 season on Friday night with a 10-2 win in the SEC opener at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
A crowd of 2,026 watched the Razorbacks (15-5, 1-0) hold the red-hot Wildcats (19-1, 0-1) to a season-low two runs and five hits. The UA win also snapped a 29-game regular-season home-winning streak for Kentucky.
UK entered the game hitting .368 as a team but the left-handed combination of Nick Schmidt and Dallas Keuchel held the Cats at bay.
Schmidt pitched five innings to improve to 5-0 on the season with a 1.47 ERA. He allowed two runs on four hits while walking four and striking out five in temperatures hovering in the mid 30s. Dallas Keuchel came on and threw four-scoreless innings of relief to earn his first save. He allowed just one single, a bunt in the ninth while striking out a career-high five.
The Razorbacks jumped on UK starter Chris Rusin in the first inning with the big blow being a three-run opposite field home run by cleanup hitter Logan Forsythe. It was Forsythe’s third home run of the season and he has now hit in 14 of his last 15 games.
Schmidt’s consecutive scoreless innings streak was quickly ended at 17 innings with one out in the bottom of the first inning when UK cleanup hitter Sean Coughlin lined a 0-2 pitch up the middle for his SEC-best 39th RBI of the season.
Rusin (2-1) absorbed his first loss of the season after allowing seven runs – all earned – on eight hits and four walks. He struck out seven over six innings and threw 123 pitches.
Sean Jones’ RBI single pushed the UA lead back to three runs with a two-strike RBI single up the middle in the top of the second inning.
Casey Coon plated the Razorbacks’ fifth run with a sacrifice fly in the top of the fourth inning, extending the lead to 5-1.
Kentucky mounted a comeback in the sixth with the help of three straight free passes by Arkansas pitchers. Schmidt walked the first two hitters before being replaced by Keuchel, who walked the first batter he saw. A RBI ground out by Jason Kipnis plated the Wildcats’ second run.
Keuchel then walked Mike Brown but got Antone DeJesus to line out to Danny Hamblin at first base, who stepped on the bag to double off Brown and end the inning.
The Hogs answered once again with three runs in the top of the eight to extend the lead to 10-2. Hamblin got the scoring started with a deep sacrifice fly to center field and Tschepikow followed with another two-out two-RBI single. He went 2 for 2 off the bench with a career-high-tying four RBI. Tschepikow has had back-to-back four RBI games and is 5 for his last 6.
Hamblin, Sean Jones and Jake Dugger also had two hits each to pace the Razorbacks’ 11-hit attack. Arkansas will go for the series win at noon(CDT) on Saturday.