April 15, 2012 at 3:11 AM CDT - Updated June 26 at 10:45 PM
FAYETTEVILLE, AR (U of A) – No. 11 Arkansas dropped a pair of one-run games to No. 3 Kentucky on Saturday, falling 5-4 in the first game and suffering a 2-1 loss in the second game of the twinbill.
The Razorbacks are now 25-9 on the season and 8-7 in Southeastern Conference play, while Kentucky improves to 32-5 and 11-4 in SEC play.
Game 1: Kentucky evens series with 5-4 win
The Kentucky bullpen combined to throw 5.2 scoreless innings to lead the third-ranked Wildcats to a 5-4 series-evening win over No. 11 Arkansas in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon.
Chandler Shepherd (3-0) earned his third win of the season in relief, tossing 3.2 innings of scoreless baseball and allowing just one hit. Tim Peterson picked up his first save of the year with two perfect innings.
Arkansas starter Barrett Astin (2-3) suffered the loss. Astin allowed five runs, just two earned, on seven hits in four-plus innings. Astin struck out a season-high eight in his four innings.
Brandon Moore was outstanding out of the Arkansas bullpen, giving up just two hits in five shutout innings.
Matt Reynolds hit his fourth homer of the season and drove in two runs to lead the Razorbacks at the plate. Joe Serrano added a hit and a run scored, while Tim Carver also had a hit.
Kentucky was led by Thomas McCarthy, who went 2-for-5 with a RBI and two runs scored. A.J. Reed and J.T. Riddle each added a hit and a RBI in the win.
Kentucky jumped out to an early lead with three runs in the top of the first. Austin Cousino drew a leadoff walk and then advanced to second on an infield single by McCarthy. With one out, Luke Maile hit a ground ball to short that was booted by Carver for an error to load the bases. A strike out of Cameron Flynn was the second out of the inning. Zac Zellers then hit a grounder up the middle and reached on an error by the shortstop to bring home the first run. Riddle followed by hitting a grounder in the hole at shortstop for an infield single to score McCarthy. Carver's throw to retire Zellers at second was wild and went into right field to score Maile on the throwing error.
Arkansas got two runs back in the bottom of the first. Serrano chopped a single into left field with one out. After Dominic Ficociello lined out to right field for the second out of the inning, Reynolds lined a two-run homer, his fourth of the season, into the Arkansas bullpen to cut the Kentucky lead to 3-2.
The Razorbacks took their first lead of the game with two runs in the home half of the second. Bo Bigham and Brian Anderson drew back-to-back walks to begin the inning. Jake Wise then laid down a sacrifice bunt up the third base line. The throw by the third baseman hit Wise, allowing him to reach and scoring Bigham on the error. A walk to Jacob Morris loaded the bases. Arkansas got its second run of the inning on a balk by Grundy to score Anderson.
Kentucky regained the lead with two runs in the top of the fourth. After the first two batters of the inning were retired, Cousino was hit by a pitch and then scored from first on a double down the left field line by McCarthy. Reed then hit a double to the left-center field gap to score McCarthy and put the Wildcats in front 5-4.
Arkansas had its best chance to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth. The Razorbacks loaded the bases with one out in the inning, but Jimmy Bosco lined into a double play to second to end the threat.
After the fourth, both bullpens took over as neither team was able to score for the rest of the game.
Game Two: Arkansas drops series finale to Kentucky
Cameron Flynn hit a two-run home run, while Corey Littrell allowed just one run in 6.1 innings as No. 3 Kentucky defeated No. 11 Arkansas 2-1 in the series finale on Saturday at Baum Stadium.
Dominic Ficociello had three hits and scored a run to lead the Razorbacks at the plate. John Clay Reeves also had a multi-hit game, recording two hits. Brian Anderson had a pinch hit RBI single for Arkansas.
Flynn had the big hit of the game for the Wildcats, hitting a two-run homer, his ninth of the season, in the fourth inning. A.J. Reed went 2-for-4 for Kentucky.
Littrell (6-0) earned the win on the mound, giving up a run on eight hits and striking out three over 6.1 innings. Trevor Gott picked up his eighth save of the season, retiring all four batters he faced.
Arkansas starter DJ Baxendale (6-2) pitched an outstanding game, but took the loss. Baxendale allowed two runs on six hits and struck out seven in eight innings of work, which tied a season-long outing.
Colby Suggs struck out the side in a scoreless ninth inning out of the Razorback bullpen.
Kentucky struck first, scoring twice in the top of the fourth. McCarthy led off the inning with a double down the right field line. After the next two batters struck out, Flynn hit a two-run homer over the right field wall to put the Wildcats in front 2-0.
Arkansas had chances to score in both the bottom of the fourth and the bottom of the fifth. In the fourth, the Razorbacks got back-to-back two-out singles from Matt Reynolds and Jimmy Bosco. However, Derrick Bleeker grounded out to third to end the inning. In the fifth, Reeves and Jacob Morris singled with one out to put runners at first and second. Tim Carver then grounded into a fielder's choice to second with Morris being retired on the play. Kentucky got out of the jam as Jacob Mahan grounded out to short to end the inning.
The Razorbacks cut the lead in half with a run in the bottom of the sixth. Ficociello led off the inning with a single to right and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. With one out, a ground out to first by Bosco advanced Ficociello to third. Anderson then hit a liner to second. The Kentucky second baseman attempted to make a leaping catch, but the ball popped out of his glove for an infield single to score Ficociello.
Arkansas had scoring chances in both the seventh and eighth innings. The Razorbacks put a runner in scoring position in each inning, but came up empty in each inning.
The Razorbacks play their second straight doubleheader on Tuesday as they host Stephen F. Austin. The first game of the doubleheader will begin at 3:05 p.m., with game two set to begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one. Both games of the doubleheader will be televised by CST.