BATON ROUGE, La. – As impossible as it was improbable, behind the pitching of Justin Wells out of the bullpen, the University of Arkansas Razorback baseball team came back from a nine-run deficit to stun the LSU Tigers at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., 14-13 in 10 innings on Saturday afternoon.
In another marathon game that lasted more than three and a half hours, the Razorbacks watched Wells throw a career long 7 1/3 innings of relief and blank LSU over the final five innings to pick up his first win of the season. Wells threw 126 pitches for the win and kept a potent LSU offense out of sync as he racked up out after out to give the Razorbacks hope.
“This was a good win for us,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “This is a game that really builds confidence and character. We’ll see how far this goes.”
While Wells was dealing aces on the mound, Arkansas’ hitters continued to chip away at the LSU pitching staff, hitting the relievers for eight runs on 13 hits. None of those hits were bigger than the blast that shortstop Tim Smalling hit in the top of the 10th inning to give Arkansas a 14-13 lead, an advantage that would hold thanks to Wells pitching.
Along with Smalling’s shot heard around Baton Rouge, Ben Tschepikow had a game with two hits, two runs and five RBI including a bases clearing triple in the fourth. Tschepikow’s five-RBI game is the most by a Razorback since Andy Wilkins drove in five against Siena on March 8.
After putting a bit of a scare in the Tigers in the top of the first, LSU came back in the bottom of the inning to take the lead as they did on Friday night. This time it was back-to-back homers by Mike Dean and Matt Clark that gave LSU its lead. Both shots went to right-center field just 30 feet from each other and put LSU up 2-0 after one inning of play.
A pair of base hits pushed a third runner across the plate for LSU in the bottom of the second then a cavalcade of hits in the bottom of the third with two outs was capped off by a three-run home run by the shortstop DJ LeMahieu and gave LSU a staggering 9-0 lead.
Arkansas’ fighting spirit came to the front in the top of the fourth when it didn’t just get a couple back, but put up a six spot. A walk, hit by pitch and an error loaded the bases for Smalling who walked in a run. Tschepikow landed the big blow when he took the first pitch he saw down the right field line clearing the bases as he went into third standing up for his first triple of the season. Chase Leavitt hit an infield single to score Tschepikow to make it five runs on the inning and then scored on a Brett Eibner hit.
LSU would get a pair back in the bottom of the fourth, but Arkansas would match the effort in the top of the fifth on a pair of hits and three walks. Casey Coon led the inning off with another hit in the series, this one a double, and would score on a pinch-hit single by Jacob House. A sacrifice fly by Tschepikow would complete the scoring.
Arkansas would chip away at the LSU lead in both the seventh and eighth inning butcame all the way back from what was a nine-run deficit in the top of the ninth with a pair of runs to knot the game at 13. Thomas Hauskey led the inning off with a harmless single up the middle and moved to second when Brett Eibner hit a rocket to left moving Hauskey to second. Logan Forsythe’s check-swing single to right would have loaded the bases but the LSU right fielder over ran the ball allowing Hauskey to score. Two batters later, Andy Wilkins would hit a sacrifice fly to right letting Eibner score the game-tying run.
The Razorbacks conclude their three-game set with the LSU Tigers on Sunday afternoon with a 1:00 p.m. start. The game is scheduled to be televised on Cox Sports Television. For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics please visit www.hogwired.com.