Late rally clinches series for Arkansas

ATHENS, Ga. (U of A) – Arkansas overcame a one-run deficit with RBI singles from Jake Wise and Joe Serrano in the top of the eighth to lift the No. 15 Razorbacks to a 2-1 win over Georgia on Saturday afternoon at Foley Field.

The victory clinches the series for the Razorbacks, who improve to 29-15 and 13-7 in Southeastern Conference play. Georgia drops to 16-28 and 4-16 in league play.

The Arkansas offense struggled to get anything going until the top of the eighth. Trailing 1-0 entering the eighth, the Razorbacks put together a two-run rally to take the lead. Jacob Mahan led off the rally with a double to right-center field and Wise quickly followed with a single to left field, scoring Mahan from second to tie the game. After a sacrifice bunt by Brett McAfee moved Wise to second, Serrano came through with the go-ahead single to right-center, scoring Wise from second to put Arkansas in front 2-1.

After Georgia was retired in order in the eighth, the Bulldogs got the leadoff runner on in the ninth with a walk. However, Colby Suggs was able to induce a 4-6-3 double play for the first two outs of the inning. Curt Powell then reached on an infield single to put a runner on first with two out. However, Suggs got a fly out to center to end the game and give the Razorbacks a 2-1 win.

Jalen Beeks (5-1) earned the win in relief after working a scoreless inning and striking out two. Suggs earned his seventh save as he worked a scoreless ninth inning for the second straight day. Suggs extended his scoreless innings streak to 9.1 innings. The junior right hander has not allowed a run in his last 10 outings.

Georgia starter Sean McLaughlin (4-5) worked a complete game, but took the loss. McLaughlin gave up two runs on five hits and struck out five in nine innings.

Ryne Stanek started for Arkansas and received a no decision. Stanek gave up one run on seven hits and struck out three in 6.2 innings.

Brian Anderson, Mahan, McAfee, Serrano and Wise each had one hit for the Razorbacks in the win. Serrano and Wise each contributed a RBI.

Curt Powell and Nelson Ward each had two hits to lead Georgia at the plate. Hunter Cole, Kyle Farmer, Daniel Nichols and Jared Walsh each added a hit. Farmer had the only RBI of the day for the Bulldogs.

Arkansas also flashed some excellent defense as Anderson and Jordan Farris made fantastic catches in the sixth. Walsh lifted a foul ball down the left field line toward the bullpen. Anderson ranged over, leaned over the bullpen fence and made a great catch, nearly falling into the bullpen as he made the grab. The next batter, Brett DeLoach, ripped a liner at second that appeared destined for right-center field, but Farris made a fantastic leaping catch to rob DeLoach of a hit.

The game was scoreless until the bottom of the seventh inning when Georgia was able to plate a run. Ward drew a walk to start the inning and then advanced to second after a bunt single by Powell. After Ward stole third, Farmer hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Ward from third base with the game's first run.

The Razorbacks and Bulldogs conclude the three-game series on Sunday with first pitch set for 1 p.m. Senior left hander Randall Fant (3-1, 2.23) will start for Arkansas, while senior righty Bryan Benzor (3-2, 4.38) will get the start for Georgia. The series finale will be televised on CSS and also available in Northwest Arkansas on CST.