Happy home: Hogs finish stand with 6 victories in row

Arkansas catcher Grant Koch celebrates with center fielder Jake Arledge (15) after hitting a 2-run home run against New Orleans Wednesday, March 22, 2017, during the fifth inning at Baum Stadium.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Grant Koch hit a home run and drove in three, and Barrett Loseke turned in a sterling relief performance as the Arkansas Razorbacks extended their winning streak to six with a 5-2 victory over the New Orleans on Wednesday.

The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville (18-4) improved to 10-1 on its longest homestand of the season before an estimated crowd of 2,626 at Baum Stadium heading into their first SEC road series Friday at No. 20 Missouri.


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"It's been a really good homestand," Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. "We learned a lot about the team. Some games were tight, and some games we just tore it up and played well offensively."

Koch and Luke Bonfield each had two hits and Jax Biggers added a late home run to pace Arkansas' eight-hit attack against the Privateers (13-9), who have swept a pair of midweek games against No. 4 LSU this season.

The right-hander Loseke (3-0) came on in the middle of a third-inning jam for starter Kacey Murphy and retired 8 of the 10 batters he faced, including 4 strikeouts, to pick up the victory.

"He got better as the game went on," Van Horn said. "His third inning, he was throwing the ball 92, 93 mph, maybe more."

Kevin Kopps worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning to record his first save.

Arkansas increased its SEC-leading home run count to 32, but only after Koch got a reprieve in the fifth inning.

Bonfield, who went 2 for 3, led off the fifth with a double just out of the reach of New Orleans' center fielder Orynn Veillon. Koch hit a foul ball back to the screen on a 3-2 pitch, and home plate umpire Greg Harmon ruled him out as catcher John Cable made the catch. Van Horn popped out of the dugout to protest that the ball touched high off the screen.

After a brief huddle with the umpiring crew, Harmon over-ruled himself, and Koch drove the next pitch from right-hander William Griffin over the left-field wall and into the Arkansas bullpen for a 3-0 lead.

"It's funny how things can change on one pitch, but that ball definitely hit the net on the way down," Van Horn said.

Koch was pleased the umpiring crew got the call right.

"That would have been a bad break, because I heard it skim off the net," he said.

Griffin's eighth pitch to Koch proved to be a two-run mistake.

"I wasn't really looking for anything, and I got a curve ball," Koch said. "He was mixing pitches pretty well that at-bat and throwing me everything he had. He just fortunately left one up."

New Orleans messed up a chance to break on top in the third inning against Murphy. Aaron Palmer hit a one-out double to the right-center gap, but he was thrown out by the catcher Koch on a steal attempt at third base. Samuel Capielano followed with a walk, and Dakota Dean singled to chase Murphy.

Loseke came on and struck out clean-up batter Tristan Clarke to escape the jam. Murphy gave up 4 walks and 2 hits and struck out 3 in his 56-pitch stint.

The Razorbacks broke on top in the bottom of the third, which was led off by a walk from Jake Arledge against lefty Christopher DeMayo (0-4). Arledge drew walks in his first three at-bats.

Bonfield hit a one-out single to left field, moving Arledge to third base. Koch ripped a double, his ninth, into the left-field corner to put the Hogs on top 1-0.

Arkansas snagged a gift run in the sixth against left-hander Connor Kaucic, who opened the inning by hitting Biggers with a pitch. Biggers moved up a pair of bases on passed balls by Cable, then scored on a wild pitch for a 4-0 lead.

New Orleans finally broke through in the seventh. Arkansas left-hander Matt Cronin opened the inning by walking Cable on four pitches, then got a quick hook. Jake Reindl induced a flyout, then gave up an infield single to Jay Robinson and walked nine-hole batter Veillon to load the bases with one out.

Aaron Palmer hit another slow roller to third base and beat the throw to first for the Privateers' first run. Reindl struck out Capielano, but his throw in the dirt eluded Koch and allowed Robinson to score to make it 4-2. Left-hander Weston Rogers came in to pitch and retired Dakota Dean on a grounder to third to escape further damage.

That score remained until Biggers hit a solo home run, his second of the season, with two outs in the eighth to extend Arkansas' lead to 5-2.

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WHEN 6:30 p.m. Central, Friday WHERE Taylor Stadium, Columbia, Mo. RECORDS Arkansas 18-4, 3-0 SEC; Missouri 20-1, 3-0 SEC SERIES Arkansas leads 16-13 RADIO Razorback Sports Network. Not all games will be carried by affiliates. Check local listings. TELEVISION None

Sports on 03/23/2017