Waco, Tex.– The Arkansas Razorbacks (43-20) were down to their last two potential outs of the season before the baseball gods intervened giving the Hogs a 5-4 win over the Baylor Bears (49-16) on Sunday.
Arkansas entered the bottom of the ninth inning down 4-3 to Baylor. Matt Reynolds led the inning with a walk to start the Arkansas rally.
After an infield pop up by Dominic Fiociello, Brian Anderson reached base with a single putting runners at the corners. The next batter, Bo Bingham, hit a sharp grounder to short that should have been an end of the game double play.
Baylor shortstop Jake Miller could not field the ball cleanly leaving the bases loaded with one out.
If that gift from the baseball gods was not enough, Jimmy Bosco and John Clay Reeves were both hit by a pitch in consecutive at bats from two different Bear pitchers (Garner and Bare) to score the tying and winning runs.
The Razorbacks were aggressive from the start of the game at the plate against Baylor starter Josh Turley. Turley worked seven innings allowing three earned runs on five hits. He struck out four and walked none which was a byproduct of Arkansas’ approach at the plate.
Arkansas scored first after designated hitter Joe Serrano hit a line drive into left center past a diving Logan Vick (CF) for a triple in the bottom of the first. All-American Matt Reynolds was able to drive Serrano in with a sacrifice fly to right putting the Hogs up 1-0.
Ryne Stanek (7-4) got the start for the Hogs and pitched his way out of jams throughout his four innings of work. Stanek got the run support he needed having a 3-1 before allowing the leadoff hitter, number nine hitter in Baylor’s order, on in the top of the fifth inning.
Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn immediately pulled Stanek after 79 total pitches for Brandon Moore. Moore gave up a RBI single to Vick after Baylor DH Nathan Orf moved Adam Toth to third on a single to drive in the first run of the inning.
Baylor loaded the bases before Moore was able to get out of the inning with Baylor up 4-3.
The Hogs went down in order in the sixth and seventh innings before getting a runner on in the bottom of the eighth. Arkansas shortstop Tim Carver singled to first with one out and was thrown out trying to steal second in a strike-him out throw-him out double play turned by Baylor to end the inning with Matt Reynolds on deck.
The Bears were able to get the leadoff runner aboard in the ninth forcing Van Horn to pull Barrett Astin for Trent Daniel. Daniel (2-0) was able to strike out the only batter he faced to earn the win and kept the Hogs within striking distance for their ninth inning heroics.
Arkansas pitching coach Dave Jorn made a change in pitching strategy after the fifth inning having the Razorback pitching staff throw more breaking balls to the Baylor hitters. After 14 innings of the Bears sitting on Razorback fastballs, once Arkansas began throwing breaking and off-speed pitches they were able to keep Baylor off balance at the plate.
Reynolds proved again why he was an All-SEC and All-American during the 2012 college baseball season going 1-2 at the plate with a walk, a RBI, and scoring the game tying run in the ninth.
First baseman Dominic Ficociello went 1-4 on Sunday and drove in two RBI with an opposite field double in the third inning. Ficociello is hitting .500 (4-8) during the Baylor Super Regional.
Arkansas will face Baylor for the right to play in the 2012 College World Series tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. CST at Baylor Park in Waco, Texas. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
Probable Starters for Monday
Arkansas, Randall Fant (2-2, 3.26 ERA) vs. Baylor, Tyler Bremer (7-1, 3.08 ERA)
Play of the Game
In the third inning Arkansas center fielder Matt Vinson threw a strike from mid-center field on a Baylor pop up to gun down the runner on third trying to tag up. Catcher John Clay Reeves blocked the plate and held onto the ball for the tough out.