FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – No. 12 Arkansas could not quite complete the sweep of Kentucky on Sunday afternoon in front of 4,924 at Baum Stadium as the No. 19 Wildcats escaped with a 7-5 win.
Arkansas won the weekend series, but fell to 27-10 on the season and 8-7 in SEC play with the loss. The win improves Kentucky’s record to 26-10 and 8-7 in league play. Arkansas is in second place in the SEC West, two games behind Alabama.
Michael Bertram led off the eighth inning with a solo home run to right-center field off Lee Land that proved to be the difference. John Shelby then laced a double into right-center field to prompt Hogs’ skipper Dave Van Horn to bring on Charley Boyce out of the bullpen.
Kentucky sacrificed Shelby to third base and Matt McKinney dumped a single into left field off the end of the bat to put the Cats on top 6-4. Boyce then field the comebacker and started the 1-6-3 double play to end the inning. He threw 1.1 innings before giving way to Devin Collis with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth.
Collis walked the first batter he faced to put Kentucky on top 7-4. Shelby then grounded into another double play to get the Razorbacks out of the inning.
Land took the loss dropping to 1-2 on the season after allowing two runs in one-third of an inning. Matt Robison got the win out of the Wildcats’ bullpen with two-thirds of an inning, walking one and striking out one. Dewayne Oxford recorded his first save of the season by pitching the final 1.2 innings.
Arkansas squandered a prime scoring opportunity in the bottom of the eighth inning with runners on first and second when Oxford induced Logan Forsythe to hit into a double play.
Danny Hamblin did crack his 10th home run of the season in the ninth inning to pull UA within two runs at 7-5. He finished the day 4 for 5 with two RBI to give him 49 RBI on the season, which matches his career high set last season. It was his first four-hit game since April 12, 2005, at Oral Roberts when he connected for three home runs and a double against the Golden Eagles.
Jake Dugger tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh inning with an opposite-field solo home run. It was the eighth of the season for Dugger. Gentry had singled in the prior at bat, but was thrown out at second base by the left fielder trying to stretch it into a double. It was the first home run allowed by UK starting pitcher Greg Dombrowski in 55 innings.
Hamblin followed with a single to chase Dombrowski from the game. He pitched 6.1 innings, allowing four runs – two earned – on 11 hits.
Hamblin got Arkansas off to a quick start at the plate in the bottom of the first inning with a RBI double off the right-field wall that scored Dugger, who had reach on an error by Shelby at second base.
Kentucky broke through off UA starter Shaun Seibert in the fourth inning with a RBI double off the left-field wall by Ryan Strieby. The double scored Collin Cowgill who led of the inning with a double. The Wildcats then took the lead, 2-1, on a seeing-eye single up the middle by Michael Bertram to score Strieby.
The lead ballooned to 3-1 on a triple by Billy Grace over the head of Craig Gentry in center field. Kentucky collected three extra-base hits in the inning with two doubles and a triple.
Ryan Wilkes hit his first home run of the season with an opposite-field shot to left to lead off the fifth inning and give UK a 5-1 lead.
After mowing down the Wildcats through the first three innings, Seibert’s day ended in the fifth inning. He pitched four innings, allowing four runs on seven hits. He struck out six and did not walk a batter.
Gentry and Dugger got the Hogs’ bats going in the fifth inning. Gentry’s leadoff-infield single came around to score when Dugger laced a double into left-center field. Dugger then scored on a RBI-ground out by David Hum to trim the Kentucky lead to 4-3.
The Razorbacks host Northern Colorado in two mid-week games at Baum Stadium on Tuesday and Wednesday. First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m. on Tuesday and 6:05 p.m. on Wednesday. The Hogs then venture to Mississippi State next weekend for their first series with an SEC West foe this season.