FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Pinch hitter Jacob Julius’ deep drive to right-center field was knocked down by the gusting wind just enough for LSU center fielder Jared Mitchell to make a leaping catch at the wall for the final out as the Tigers held on for a 5-3 win over No. 7 Arkansas in front of 9,203 fans at Baum Stadium on Sunday.
Danny Hamblin led off the ninth with his career-high tying 17th home run of the season to cut the lead to 5-3. He finished the day 2 for 3 with a RBI and run scored. Logan Forsythe and Jeff Nutt also had two hits with Nutt notching his second straight game with two doubles.
The loss was the first of the season on Sunday during SEC play and was just the second series loss of the year as the Hogs fell to 36-14 and 16-8 in SEC play. It was also the first loss of the season in a rubber game and just the second loss (8-2) in rubber games at Baum Stadium since UA skipper Dave Van Horn arrived in 2003 with both of those series losses coming at the hands of the Tigers.
The Baum Stadium crowds were amazing all weekend as the Hogs set an SEC record with 30,554 tickets sold, breaking Mississippi State’s mark of 29,915 set last season against Georgia. A staggering 29,931 fans rolled through the turnstiles for the three game series with a school-record 10,581 on Saturday afternoon.
Duke Welker took the loss to fall to 5-3 on the season and 2-3 in SEC play. He allowed five runs – four earned – on eight hits over seven innings of work. He walked one and fanned five. Dallas Keuchel threw 1.2 perfect innings out of the bullpen and Evan Cox recorded the final out for the Hogs with a strikeout.
Jared Bradford earned his second win of the weekend after starting and working five innings. He improved to an SEC-best 10-2 on the season, allowing two runs on six hits with no walks and two strikeouts. LSU improves to 28-21-1 as a team and 11-12-1 in SEC action. The Tigers have now won seven of the last nine against Arkansas.
The Tigers’ Chris Jackson lined Welker’s first pitch of the game up the middle for a single. He then swiped second base, moved to third on a ground ball to the right side and then scored on an infield single to shortstop by Blake Dean to give LSU a 1-0 lead.
Jake Dugger’s lead off single to center field in the bottom half of the first inning and steal of second base came around to score just like LSU’s in the first inning. Nutt plated the run with a RBI ground out to shortstop.
Blake Mitchell led off the second with an infield single to shortstop that Matt Willard made a great play to get to, but threw into the Tigers’ dugout for an error that advanced Mitchell to second base. Ryan Schimpf then singled to left to give LSU a 2-1 lead.
The Hogs tied things up at 2-2 in the third inning, but a little bad base running from Sean Jones cost them more when he was picked off at second base by Bradford. Forsythe followed with a single to right field and Nutt drove in his second run of the day with a double into the left-center field gap.
LSU got the lead right back when Dean hammer a first-pitch fastball into a stiff wind over the right-field bullpen to take a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning.
The Tigers then blew the game open in the seventh inning off Welker with two runs on nine-hole hitter Robert Lara’s two-RBI double past a diving Forsythe at third base. Casey Coon did cut down a run at the plate a batter earlier on Buzzy Hydel’s single to left field.
The Razorbacks travel to Alabama next weekend for a three-game set with the Crimson Tide. The final home series of the season comes in two weeks when Ole Miss comes to Baum Stadium for a series that begins at 7:05 p.m. on Thursday, May 17.