Red­shirt se­nior bats out of ninth

The Sentinel-Record - - SPORTS -

Bat­ting Car­son Shaddy ninth with his fel­low Ra­zor­backs hit­ting well in the pre­ced­ing eight spots de­fined the lux­ury set­ting Arkansas apart na­tion­ally, rank­ing sec­ond or third in var­i­ous col­lege base­ball polls and best in the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence’s West divi­sion.

Pro­mot­ing Shaddy to bat fifth in Satur­day’s SEC dou­ble­header sweep of South Carolina (20-16,

6-9) keeps Arkansas (27-10, 10-5) elite.

Fifth-year se­nior sec­ond base­man and Fayet­teville na­tive Shaddy went 1-for-3 with a walk to get on base in two of the four in­nings in which the Ra­zor­backs failed to score with the bases loaded dur­ing Thurs­day’s 3-2 loss to the Game­cocks. Coach Dave Van Horn al­tered the or­der.

Shaddy bat­ted fifth Satur­day as Arkansas swept South Carolina, 2-0 and 3-0, in Satur­day’s seven-in­ning games. He scored both runs in the 2-0 vic­tory in the first game. His sec­ond-in­ning solo home run over the left field wall ul­ti­mately proved the game-win­ner.

Nearly home­r­ing again on a clout to left, Shaddy was hit by a pitch from frus­trated re­liever T.J. Shook af­ter the long foul ball to lead off the sixth in­ning. He was sin­gled to third by Do­minic Fletcher and scored on re­liever John Gil­reath’s wild pitch.

In the sixth in­ning of Satur­day’s sec­ond game with Arkansas up only 1-0, Shaddy hit the one-out, two-run home run over left to cre­ate what the Game­cocks knew was an in­sur­mount­able 3-0 lead into the fi­nal in­ning against Arkansas closer Matt Cronin. The sopho­more left-han­der mas­ter­fully saved Satur­day’s sec­ond game for win­ning starter Isa­iah Camp­bell

(3-3) like he saved Satur­day’s first for win­ning starter Kacey Mur­phy (5-2).

“Ob­vi­ously, the big hit­ter of the day was Car­son Shaddy,” Van Horn said.

And, ob­vi­ously, the Hogs needed their lead­ing hit­ter in av­er­age and home runs, .368 and nine, and sec­ond in RBIs with 29 po­si­tioned to get more at-bats than the nine-hole hit­ter gets.

Van Horn was asked if Shaddy hit his way out of the nine­hole.

“Well, yeah,” Van Horn said. “Some of the other guys were strug­gling a lit­tle bit and I just thought I needed to get him back up in there. Been think­ing about it for a cou­ple of weeks, but we’ve been win­ning. We won five or six in a row there and then we lost on Thurs­day night and he’s still swing­ing it bet­ter than most, I thought now is the time to do it.”

Though first-year South Carolina coach Mark Kingston is en­tirely new to the SEC, he wasn’t sur­prised to see Shaddy star., Kingston coached Illi­nois State and then South Florida from 2010-17.

“What is he, a fifth-year se­nior?’ Kingston mused. “Well, he’s play­ing like a fifth-year se­nior. Guys that are in col­lege that long should be pro­duc­tive play­ers, and that’s what he is.”

No doubt se­nior pride fac­tored into Shaddy both tak­ing it as a chal­lenge and pro­duc­ing so well from day one bat­ting ninth, in­clud­ing home­r­ing with four RBIs in the sea­son-open­ing 14-2 vic­tory over Buck­nell back on Feb. 16. Shaddy ac­knowl­edged “jok­ing around this morn­ing,” though likely with some con­cerns, about bat­ting ninth for the first time open­ing his last sea­son.

“You know that was the last thing I would have ex­pected, was to be in the nine-hole,” Shaddy said. “It (bat­ting ninth) prob­a­bly was the first since I was a sopho­more in high school. At the same time, like Eric (Cole, the two-hole hit­ter) said, af­ter the first in­ning it doesn’t mat­ter. It’s just a num­ber. I’ll do what­ever I can to help this team.”

Shaddy has so helped from the bot­tom of the lineup that maybe

it’s not a cinch he will per­ma­nently bat closer to the top.

“I think there is a pos­si­bil­ity that I could still be in there,” Shaddy said of bat­ting ninth af­ter Satur­day’s sweep. “Like we’ve all said be­fore, I don’t think it’s a pro­to­typ­i­cal nine-hole spot in this lineup. Coach re­ally likes me there. Som we’ll see what hap­pens.”

Af­ter wast­ing their 13 hits plus the good pitch­ing of starter Blaine Knight (6-0) and re­liev­ers Bar­rett Loseke, Evan Lee and Cody Scrog­gins in the one-run loss on Thurs­day, it seems all the Ra­zor­backs must have felt pres­sure to pro­duce on Satur­day.

“I don’t know about pres­sure,” Shaddy said. “I think it was more about anger. I think a lot of us felt we were right there about to take it from them and were re­ally an­gry we lost that game. It was more anger for us to do what we’re sup­posed to do.”

Nate Allen Hog Calls

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