University of Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn notched his 1,000 career victory as a NCAA Division I coach as the No. 6 Razorbacks extended their SEC winning streak to nine games with a 9-1 victory at Kentucky in the first game of a doubleheader on Sunday.
The streak ended there, however, as Kentucky rode three home runs and left-hander Zack Thompson's 11 strikeouts to a 4-3 victory in the second game before an estimated crowd of 3,479 at Kentucky Proud Park.
ARKANSAS vs. LSU
WHEN 6:30 p.m. Thursday
WHERE Baum-Walker Stadium, Fayetteville
RECORDS LSU 30-18, 14-10 SEC; Arkansas 37-12, 17-7
RADIO Razorback Sports Network. Not all games will be carried by all affiliates. Check local listings.
SHORT HOPS The trio of Trevor Ezell, Dominic Fletcher and Casey Martin are the only Razorbacks to start all 49 games. … The Razorbacks finished the regular season 9-3 against teams from the SEC East, with sweeps of Missouri and Tennessee and a 2-1 series loss at Vanderbilt. … The Wildcats went 3-9 vs. Western Division teams, including a 2-1 series victory at Ole Miss. …. Arkansas shortstop Casey Martin went 0 for 8 on Sunday with two strikeouts.
THE WEEK AHEAD
THURSDAY LSU,* 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
FRIDAY LSU,* 6:30 p.m.
SATURDAY LSU,* 1 p.m. (ESPN2)
* SEC games
The Razorbacks (37-12, 17-7 SEC) won their third conference road series and remained two games ahead of Mississippi State and Ole Miss in the SEC West.
"It was a really good weekend for us," Van Horn said. "Any time you go on the road and play a team like Kentucky, who has a lot of talent ... and they're scrambling to get into the SEC Tournament, we know we're going to get their best effort."
Kentucky (23-24, 6-18) inched a game ahead of South Carolina out of the SEC East cellar by hanging on in a dramatic final inning of Sunday's second game.
Van Horn became the ninth active coach with 1,000 Division I victories as Arkansas rallied late behind home runs from Dominic Fletcher and Christian Franklin to win the opener. Both games went seven innings because the doubleheader was played on the travel day for the Razorbacks after a rainout on Saturday.
Thompson (5-1) entered the seventh with a 4-2 lead but the Razorbacks worked his pitch count up and had a big chance to at least tie the game. Trevor Ezell drilled a one-out double down the left-field line, Casey Martin walked on four pitches, then Matt Goodheart ripped Thompson's 124th pitch right over his head to make it 4-3 and send Martin to third base.
Kentucky reliever Carson Coleman got Fletcher to chase a first-pitch change-up down in the zone and the Wildcats turned it into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play to hang on.
Ezell had two hits in each game and went 4 for 7 on the day to lead the Razorbacks, while Goodheart and Jack Kenley were both 3 for 7.
Arkansas freshman Patrick Wicklander (5-1), who would have been too ill to make his start on Saturday if the game had been played, worked five strong innings to pick up the victory in the opener.
"He pitched extremely well," Van Horn said. "He was sicker than sick yesterday."
Freshman Connor Noland (2-3) struggled with his breaking pitch in the early innings, and Kentucky made the right-hander pay in the second game.
Kentucky struck for a 2-0 lead in the second inning on back-to-back home runs off Noland curveballs by third baseman Coltyn Kessler and left-fielder Ryan Shinn.
The Razorbacks got one back in the top of the third as Franklin drew a leadoff walk, stole second and scored when Dalton Reed fielded Goodheart's chopper deep behind first base and threw awkwardly to Thompson covering the bag as the ball came loose.
The Wildcats added a third home run in the fourth when second baseman Elliott Curtis went deep. Noland was relieved after Shinn singled and T.J. Collett followed with an RBI double for a 4-1 lead in the fourth.
Thompson walked Casey Opitz to lead off the fifth and Ezell doubled him in to pull Arkansas within 4-2 and set up the seventh-inning drama.
The Razorbacks rallied from a 1-0 deficit through five innings in the opener before batting around in a six-run sixth and adding three more runs in the seventh.
Wicklander picked up the victory after allowing a run on 4 hits and a walk, while striking out 6 batters in 5 innings. Van Horn said Wicklander was poised to pitch the bottom of the sixth, but the Razorbacks batted for more than 30 minutes in the top of the inning, and he felt it was time to pull the left-hander out.
Arkansas could not cash in a couple of early opportunities, stranding Ezell at second base in the first inning and the bases loaded in the second inning after starting the inning with singles from Heston Kjerstad, Kenley and Jacob Nesbit.
Kentucky left-hander Dillon Marsh (3-2) had retired 12 of 13 batters entering the sixth inning. He was working with a 1-0 lead after Curtis and Austin Schultz hit one-out singles in the fourth and Kessler followed with an RBI groundout.
Goodheart slapped a single to center on a 2-2 pitch to lead off the Arkansas sixth. Fletcher blasted the first pitch he saw from Marsh over the wall in right-center field to give the Hogs their first lead.
Before the half-inning ended Opitz hit a run-scoring single, Ezell drove in two with a single and Arkansas added another run on a wild pitch as the Wildcats used five pitchers.
Arkansas buried the Wildcats in the seventh when Franklin homered to center field after Kenley and Nesbit reached on a single and an error. Franklin's sixth home run made the score 9-1.
Cody Scroggins, in his first action since April 14 at Vanderbilt, and Marshall Denton finished off Wicklander's victory by combining for two shutout innings.
Sports on 05/06/2019
Print Headline: Hogs split pair with Wildcats