GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Sophomore Dallas Keuchel threw an absolute gem for the Arkansas baseball team on Friday night to lead the Razorbacks to 2-1 victory over the Florida Gators in Southeastern Conference action.
Keuchel tossed a career best 8 1/3 innings of six hit baseball for the Razorbacks (18-14, 4-8 SEC) before being relieved after 117 pitches with a runner on second.Stephen Richards closed out the contest for Arkansas with a strikeout and ground ball to second for his second save of the season and Arkansas’ first Friday night win in Gainesville since the 1999 season when it swept the Gators.
While Keuchel was dealing on the mound, the Razorback hitters continued to put the ball in play and stroked nine hits.None of them were as big as Jeff Nutt’s bomb to right center field on a 1-0 count that not only cleared the fence, but also the Arkansas bullpen and the palm trees beyond that.The shot in the top of the eighth gave the Razorbacks their second lead of the game.The home run by Nutt is his second of the season since returning from injury early last week.
The Razorbacks were also strong defensively as they turned a season high three double plays in the infield.Each halted a Florida rally and kept Keuchel’s pitch count low allowing him to work into the late innings.
The Razorbacks were the first on the board scoring in the top of the first without the benefit of a hit.Logan Forsythe led off with a five-pitch walk and advanced to second when Sean Jones put down a nice sacrifice bunt.A balk by the Florida starter moved Forsythe to third and a ground ball out by Ben Tschepikow scored Forsythe for the game’s first run.
The Gators returned the favor and scored a run of their own in the bottom of the third.A sharp ground ball to third base went for a hit after Forsythe made a stunning play just to snare the ball after he was blinded by the setting sun.The Florida base runner would steal second and advance to third on a single by the next batter.A third single by the Gators with two outs would score the runner from third and tie the game.
Nutt, Ryan Cisterna and Chase Leavitt each posted multi-hit games for the Razorbacks with Forsythe, Aaron Murphree and Tim Smalling knocking out the rest of the Razorback hits.
The Arkansas-Florida series continues on Saturday evening with a 3:00 p.m. central start.For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics please visit www.hogwired.com.