FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Jeff Meade’s two-out RBI double in the top of the ninth inning lifted Kentucky to a 7-6 win over Arkansas in the opener of a three-game Southeastern Conference series Friday at Baum Stadium.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak in the series for the Wildcats (31-13-1, 8-12-1 SEC) while the Razorbacks (17-28, 2-18 SEC) saw their school-record conference losing streak extended to 18 games.
UA is winless in 10 home conference games this season and its 28 losses overall and 18 in league play are the most in school history. The one-run loss was Arkansas’ sixth in its last seven home SEC games.
Kentucky’s Breck Price (2-1) earned the win with one inning of scoreless relief but was lifted with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and the tying run at second base for the Hogs. Josh Paxton came out of the Wildcat bullpen and coaxed Brad Hagedorn into a force out at second base that ended the game and earned Paxton his first save of the season.
Meade’s game-winning double – his fourth hit of the game – plated the second of two UK runs in the ninth off UA reliever Jeremy Rankin (2-3), who suffered the loss. In the bottom of the eighth, Nick Pitts’ two-out, two-run homer had given the Hogs a 6-5 lead. A redshirt freshman making his first start in a home conference game, Pitts’ homer was the first of his career.
Vince Harrison added three hits for the Wildcats, who out-hit Arkansas 14-11. Greg Blum led the Razorbacks with three hits.
Both bullpens squandered what had been a pitchers’ duel between Kentucky starter Brandon Webb and UA starter Wes McCrotty. Webb gave up five runs (four earned) on nine hits and struck out eight in seven innings. McCrotty gave up three runs (earned) on six hits and struck out four in his longest outing since going seven innings for a win over UK in last year’s SEC Tournament.
The series continues Saturday at 2 p.m. CT. Brad Bohannan (3-2) will start for the Razorbacks while UK will start Rob Corrado (4-1). Sunday’s series finale is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT.