FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Redshirt Freshman Sam Murphy pitched five innings of effective relief for the University of Arkansas Razorback baseball team but a front line performance from Univ. of Nebraska starter Dan Jennings kept the Razorback bats at bay on Tuesday afternoon at Hawks Stadium in Lincoln, Neb., as Nebraska won, 6-1.
The Nebraska win spoiled the return of Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn to Lincoln, his first trip to the Cornhusker campus since leaving to take the Arkansas job in 2003 and extended the winning streak of Nebraska to 14 games, a streak that has shot them up the carts to their current ranking of 22nd.
“I thought that we played kind of in a lull today,” Van Horn said. “Our innings were too quick and we just couldn’t get anything going.”
The Razorbacks brought in Murphy in the third inning and the Omaha, Neb., native looked good over the next five innings shutting down the Cornhusker bats and keeping the score at 3-1. Murphy held Nebraska to just three hits over his first five innings, but a leadoff single followed by a double in the Nebraska eighth chased the right-hander from the game. The next batter for Nebraska, Mitch Abeita, then took a 1-1 offering from Razorback reliever Justin Wells and sent it high into the air and over the 395 sign in center field to open the game up, 6-1.
After yielding a run in the bottom of the first on a series of fluke plays, Arkansas used the bottom half of the order to manufacture the tying score in the top of the second. Aaron Murphree would ground into a fielder’s choice then steal second on the second pitch. The steal is his fifth of the season, a total that leads leads the Razorbacks. Tim Smalling was next up for the Hogs and promptly sent a liner through the right side. Murphree came around third without stopping and beat the tag at the plate with a great headfirst slide to tie the game at one.
Nebraska would regain the lead when Nick Sullivan turned on a 1-2 pitch to deposit his first home run of the season over the right field wall. The two run shot would eventually be the game-winning hit of the contest.
Double plays hurt most of the Arkansas scoring opportunities as it grounded into four on the afternoon. The rally killers along with three errors over the first two innings gave the Cornhuskers all they needed to hand the Razorbacks their third consecutive loss and fifth in the last six games after opening the year 11-1.
Despite Arkansas’ struggles defensively, there were several bright spots in the field for the Razorbacks. Catcher Ryan Cisterna used a near perfect throw to catch a Nebraska runner stealing and later in the game threw behind a Cornhusker runner at first, catching him napping and getting the easy out. Murphy would also get in on the fun by picking off a runner at first base.
For Nebraska, Jennings went the distance allowing just five hits and two walks and striking out a career high seven Razorbacks.
The Razorbacks conclude their two-game set with Nebraska on Wednesday afternoon with a 1:00 p.m. start at Hawks Field. For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics please visit www.hogwired.com.