GAINESVILLE, Fla. – After waiting out a two and a half hour rain delay, the No. 4 University of Arkansas baseball team dropped a 2-1 decision to seventh-ranked Florida in the series finale Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. Collin Kuhn hit his 10th home run of the season in the top of the eighth inning to tie the game, but the Gators scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth to clinch the series.
"It’s a very disappointing end to a great game," head coach Dave Van Horn said. "(Brian Johnson) threw great. He moved the ball in and out and handcuffed us. I thought our pitchers did a nice job, too. It was basically an identical game until they got three hits in the bottom of the ninth with the flare to beat us."
In the bottom of the ninth, Brian Johnson picked up a one-out single for the Gators. Matt den Dekker followed with a base hit to left to give the home team runners on first and second. Mike Zunino delivered with a bloop single that fell in shallow right. On the play at the plate, Johnson was called safe to give Florida the victory.
With one out in the top of the third, James McCann was hit by a pitch to give Arkansas (33-8, 13-5 SEC) its first base runner of the game. Matt Vinson followed with a single and the Razorbacks had runners on first and second. Facing Collin Kuhn, Johnson wheeled to pick off McCann for the second out. After a base hit by Kuhn, Bo Bigham grounded a ball toward the outfield but the Gators’ Josh Adams made a nice diving stop and threw to first to retire the Hogs.
Florida (28-11, 12-6 SEC) tallied the first run of Sunday’s ballgame on a solo Preston Tucker in the bottom of the fourth, his eighth long ball of the season. Tucker was at the plate in the third when Arkansas starter Randall Fant picked Nolan Fontana off at first base for the final out of the frame.
Fant allowed three hits and the one run during his 3.2-inning outing. He surrendered just one walk and matched his season high with five strikeouts. DJ Baxendale came in out of the bullpen to record the final out of the fourth.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Gators put together a pair of two-out hits to give the home team runners on first and second for den Dekker. The Florida center fielder drove a shot toward the gap in left center but Brett Eibner stretched out to make the run-saving catch and record the third out of the inning.
With two down in the top of the eighth, Kuhn knotted the score with a solo shot off Florida reliever Kevin Chapman. The home run was Kuhn’s seventh during Southeastern Conference play this season. It was the first blown save of the season for Chapman but he was credited with the win. Mike Bolsinger was charged with the loss.
The Razorbacks return to Fayetteville to host Missouri State Wednesday night at Baum Stadium. First pitch of the midweek contest is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. The ballgame will be televised by Cox Sports Television (Ch. 119 in Northwest Arkansas) with Mike Nail and Ron Swoboda in the booth for the call.
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