PALO ALTO, Calif. – Junior Chase Leavitt had two hits including a RBI single in the top of the ninth, but it wasn’t enough to push the Arkansas baseball team to an opening day win at the Stanford Regional as the Razorbacks fell 4-3 to Pepperdine on Friday.
Arkansas (34-23) knocked out six hits and scored three runs but a trio of costly errors in the sixth inning led to one unearned run and kept Pepperdine (37-19) in the winner’s bracket of the Regional.
“You have to credit Pepperdine,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “They made the routine plays and got the job done. We didn’t handle their starting pitcher’s out pitch very well. We had our opportunities but just didn’t get it done. I felt that it would come down to defense.”
Arkansas opened the scoring in the top of the second on a pair of hits by the Razorbacks talented freshmen class. Andy Wilkins led off with a double to the left-center field gap and following a strikeout, Brett Eibner drove Wilkins home with a deep single to left. The RBI for Eibner is his team leading 48th of the season.
The Waves came back with one of their own in the bottom of the inning and could have had more if it had not been for a fantastic diving catch in right-center field by Eibner. An opening at-bat single was followed by a sinking line-drive to right-center which was snared on a diving grab by Eibner. Arkansas starter Cliff Springston would get the next batter to strike out before Denny Duron hit a RBI double which short-hopped the wall in left field.
The Razorbacks went back on top in the fourth inning when Ryan Cisterna cracked a RBI single to left field scoring Eibner from second base. Eibner came to the plate with two outs a drew a seven-pitch walk. He would then steal his third base of the season to set himself up in scoring position.
Pepperdine again didn’t waste any time matching Arkansas’ score as it scored its second run in the bottom of the same inning. Springston didn’t help himself in the inning by walking the first two batters, but a phenomenal play by Ben Tschepikow at second base kept the Waves to just one run and Springston showed poise as he battled his way through the inning.
The Waves took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning when shortstop Chase d’Arnaud took a 1-0 pitch and sent it high over the wall in left field. The game’s first home run also gave Pepperdine its first lead of the day. Arkansas would commit three errors following the home run which allowed a fourth Pepperdine run to score and make it a 4-2 game heading into the final three innings.
The Razorbacks made it interesting in the ninth when Jacob House drew a pinch hit walk to open the inning. The walk prompted Pepperdine to bring in their closer, Nick Gaudi, who got pinch hitter Jeff Nutt to ground out to the right side, moving Jones to second. Leavitt would follow up with a single to center field which scored Jones. With two outs and runners on first and second, Casey Coon would hit a sinking line drive to left-center field which center fielder Nate Simon made a diving grab on to end the game.
The Razorback loss drops them into the loser’s bracket of the regional where they face the loser of the Stanford-Cal-Davis game at 1:00 p.m. pacific on Saturday. For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics please visit www.hogwired.com.