ATHENS, Ga. – The fifth-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks nearly endured a game that included five lead changes and a two-hour weather delay Friday at Foley Field, but the 13th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs came up with a 10th-inning game-winning single by LJ Talley to defeat the Hogs, 8-7, and even up the three-game series.
The loss snaps Arkansas’ four-game winning streak and is its first extra-inning loss of the season. With one game remaining in the regular-season, the SEC Western Division will still be up for grabs going into the final day as the Hogs’ lead is cut to a half-game with Ole Miss’ second game with Alabama still ongoing.
Friday’s game between the Razorbacks and Bulldogs was a bit of a roller coaster early on. A combined 11 runs were scored between the two teams before thunderstorms moved into the area in the fifth and forced everyone off the field for more than two hours.
Arkansas starting pitcher Kacey Murphy battled through giving up five runs in the first two innings and had held Georgia scoreless going into the fifth before the weather forced him out of the game. Murphy had retired nine of the final 10 batters he faced and left the game with his team up 6-5, but even at only 72 pitches, the weather delay was too long to allow him to come back.
Murphy finished with four strikeouts and only one walk over four innings, while facing 19 batters in his 12th start of the year. Friday night was Murphy’s first outing of four innings or less since March 7.
After the rain cleared, Georgia went on to score two in the fifth off the first Hog pitcher out of the bullpen, Cody Scroggins. A two-run home run by Michael Curry gave the Bulldogs a 7-6 lead. Scroggins was relieved by junior Barrett Loseke before the start of the sixth inning after just one inning of work.
Loseke held down the Georgia offense for the next four frames, helping to send the game into extras. Loseke only gave up two singles in those four innings, but gave up a lead-off double to Keegan McGovern to lead off the 10th, which eventually led to the game-winning run.
Offensively, the Razorbacks totaled 10 hits with eight players recording at least one. Junior Eric Cole led all Razorbacks going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. It’s his 10th game this year with three or more hits and 20th multi-hit game of the year.
Cole came through with RBI singles in the second and third innings to keep the Hogs going in the back-and-forth battle early on. His hit in the third, at the time, provided the go-ahead run for the Hogs to make it 6-5, but it was the last lead Arkansas held for the remainder of the game.
Freshman Heston Kjerstad hit his 11th homer of the year in the top of the first inning, a two-run line drive home run down the right-field line. It’s his first home run since May 6 and puts him alone at second on the team just one behind Cole. He later added a third RBI on a groundout that tied the game at 7-7 in the eighth. Kjerstad has eight hits in his last six games, including seven RBIs.
Arkansas and Georgia will finish the 2018 regular season with a rubber match on Saturday at Foley Field. First pitch is set for 11 a.m. CT and will be broadcast on the SEC Network. Dave Neal (PxP) and Mike Rooney (Analyst) will have the call for the national audience.
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