Arkansas’ ninth-inning rally falls short in SEC Baseball Semifinals
Trailing by four in the ninth, Arkansas (41-16) rallied back within one but could not pull off the comeback, coming up short against Texas A&M (36-24), 5-4, on Saturday afternoon at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
With the loss, the Hogs were eliminated from the SEC Tournament. No. 4 Arkansas finished its weekend in Hoover with a 2-1 record, including a win against No. 5 LSU, and advanced to the semifinals for the fourth time in the last six seasons.
The Razorbacks racked up 10 hits, including a pair of extra-base hits from Caleb Cali and John Bolton, but the Aggie pitching staff combined for 14 strikeouts and stranded nine base runners. Arkansas was just 5-for-21 (.238) with runners on base, failing to take advantage of numerous run-scoring opportunities throughout Saturday’s ballgame.
On the mound, Brady Tygart started for the Razorbacks and struck out three over 3 1/3 innings of work. He allowed only one run on three hits and two walks, departing the contest after throwing a season-high 64 pitches.
Will McEntire came out of the bullpen in relief of Tygart and posted zeroes before running into trouble in the bottom of the sixth. Texas A&M broke through for three runs – all of which were charged to McEntire – on two hits and four walks.
Arkansas collected its first run of the day in the seventh inning, thanks to pinch hitter Ben McLaughlin. After Cali’s leadoff double, McLaughlin’s pinch-hit RBI single to left center cut the Razorbacks’ deficit to three runs.
The Aggies would extend their lead to 5-1 in the bottom of the eighth on a two-out single, pushing the Hogs back into a four-run deficit entering the ninth. Arkansas, however, would not go down without a fight.
Cali, who finished with a team-leading three hits, poked a leadoff single through the left side before Peyton Holt was plunked by a pitch, putting a pair of runners on with no outs in the inning. After Texas A&M recorded the first out, John Bolton, who tallied a two-hit day, delivered a two-run double down the line in right to bring Arkansas within two.
Tavian Josenberger then singled through the left side and moved Bolton to third with one out. Kendall Diggs, the very next batter, reached on a fielding error, which scored Bolton from third as the Hogs cut their deficit to just one.
The score would stay right there, though. Aggie relief pitcher Troy Wansing struck out the next two batters he faced to lock down the 5-4 win and send Texas A&M to the SEC Tournament championship game.
Arkansas will await its NCAA Tournament fate. The 16 regional site hosts will be released through social media and on the ESPN Bottom Line beginning at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 28. A full release will be distributed by the NCAA and posted on NCAA.com shortly thereafter.
The full tournament selections and pairings will be announced on the NCAA Baseball selection show on ESPN2 at 11 a.m. Monday, May 29. A full release will be distributed and posted on NCAA.com before the show ends at 11:30 p.m.
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