HOOVER, Ala. – Fourth-seeded Arkansas’ run to a second-straight SEC Tournament final appearance fell a game short Saturday night as eighth-seeded LSU won a pitchers’ duel, 2-1, in the semifinals at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
Saturday’s game was the 18th one-run game Arkansas (39-18) has played this year and third in its last five games. In its 18 games against conference opponents that were not played at Baum Stadium this year, 15 of those games were decided by three runs or less.
Senior Jared Gates’ third-inning home run was one of only three hits in the game for the Arkansas offense as LSU (37-24) starting pitcher Zack Hess held the Hogs down for seven innings, striking out seven.
Gates actually finished with two of the three Razorback hits in the game, his first multi-hit game since April 21 and fifth of the year. Gates’ home run was his fourth of the year and gives the Razorbacks 84 for the season, one more than a year ago.
The 84 team home runs this season is currently tied for the second most by any Arkansas team in a single-season, tying the 1999 team that hit 84 long balls in 65 games. The record of 92 home runs in 2010 is still in sight with this year’s team just eight away.
As for Gates, the Kansas native finished the week with a great tournament performance, going 4-for-9 at the plate with four runs scored, two RBIs, and a home run. His four hits tied Casey Martin for the most by a Razorback player in the tournament and tie for the second most among all players in the field.
On the mound, redshirt sophomore Isaiah Campbell had one of his best performances of the year on one of the biggest stages as he matched Hess pitch-for-pitch through five innings, including retiring 10 in a row from the end of the second inning and through the third, fourth, and fifth innings.
Campbell ran into trouble at the beginning of the sixth inning when he gave up a lead-off single to LSU’s nine-hole hitter, Brandt Broussard. Zach Watson followed with a two-run home run over the left field wall, his sixth of the year. It was the only blemish on Campbell’s line as he was relieved two batters after the homer with Jake Reindl.
Campbell finished the game with just two runs allowed on four hits, while walking only one and striking out seven, just one shy of his career-high.
As Reindl followed, the junior kept his team in the game with four shutout innings out of the bullpen with just one hit allowed against the first batter he faced. Reindl retired 11 of the final 12 batters he faced in what was his longest outing since April 17 against Missouri State.
In his last 12 appearances, Reindl has been one of Arkansas’ best options out of the bullpen, allowing just three earned runs over his last 26 innings, while striking out 38 and giving up just nine walks.
Arkansas will now wait to see where it lands in the NCAA Tournament field, which will be decided on Monday afternoon at 11 a.m. on ESPN2. The regional host announcement will come Sunday at 7:30 p.m.