Hogs lose se­ries to Ag­gies go­ing into SEC Tour­ney

The Saline Courier Weekend - - SPORTS -

COL­LEGE STA­TION, Texas – A first-in­ning solo home run from sopho­more Casey Martin was not enough for the fourthrank­ed Arkansas Ra­zor­backs Satur­day as they dropped their third of their last four games, fall­ing to 17th-ranked Texas A&M, 6-1, in the fi­nal game of the reg­u­lar sea­son.

The Ra­zor­backs downed A&M 7-3 in the se­ries opener Thurs­day, but fell 6-2 on Fri­day. Satur­day’s de­feat gave the se­ries to the Ag­gies.

Arkansas com­pletes the 55-game reg­u­lar-sea­son sched­ule with a 40-15 over­all record and a 20-10 record in SEC play. It’s the first time its won 40 or more games in the reg­u­lar sea­son since 1991 and the fastest its won 40 games since 1989. The 20 con­fer­ence wins re­main only the sec­ond in­stance in school his­tory that the Ra­zor­backs have won 20 or more games in league play and first un­der head coach Dave Van Horn.

The Ra­zor­backs won 11 three-game se­ries this sea­son, seven in SEC play, in­clud­ing three sweeps. They also won four of their fi­nal five con­fer­ence se­ries, which in­cludes sweeps over cur­rent No. 5 Mis­sis­sippi State and Ten­nessee.

With its loss on Satur­day, Arkansas sits a half-game be­hind Mis­sis­sippi State, which is cur­rently play­ing its fi­nal game of its se­ries with South Carolina. A Bull­dog win will give the SEC Western Di­vi­sion ti­tle to Mis­sis­sippi State and the two-seed in the SEC Tour­na­ment. A loss would re­sult in Arkansas and Mis­sis­sippi State shar­ing the di­vi­sion ti­tle and Arkansas claim­ing the two-seed due to tiebreaker rules.

Martin’s solo blast off Ag­gie starter Chris­tian Roa was one of just five hits in the game for the Ra­zor­backs. It was Martin’s team-lead­ing 14th home run of the year, one more than his to­tal from his fresh­man sea­son. It was also his third home run of the se­ries, but only his third RBI as all three of his long balls this week­end were solo home runs.

Arkansas strug­gled as a team with run­ners in scor­ing po­si­tion for the sec­ond straight day. In­clud­ing a fourth-in­ning bases-loaded sit­u­a­tion where the Hogs were un­able to score with a 1-0 lead, the Ra­zor­backs left seven run­ners on base in the game and only one reached base in its last 17 at-bats.

Martin fin­ished the game 2 for 4 as he had a sin­gle in the fifth to go along with his first-in­ning home run. That sin­gle made him the last Ra­zor­back to reach base in the game, but he now has 23 multi-hit games this year, ty­ing him with Do­minic Fletcher for the team lead.

Matt Good­heart and Jack Ken­ley were the only other Hog bat­ters to garner a hit in Satur­day’s game as the strike­out bug struck again to the tune of 11 punch outs as a team.

On the mound, fresh­man Connor Noland had one of his most ef­fi­cient out­ings this year, work­ing 4.1 in­nings with just five hits scat­tered, three strike­outs and only one earned run. Noland only threw 45 pitches, but the de­fense be­hind him suf­fered a sea­son-high four er­rors, match­ing its to­tal from a 17-7 loss to Lit­tle Rock back in April.

Cody Scrog­gins, Kevin Kopps and Ze­bu­lon Ver­mil­lion fol­lowed Noland out of the bullpen and did a tremen­dous job hold­ing A&M to only four hits over the fi­nal 3.2 in­nings, but again, two un­earned runs were scored off Scrog­gins dur­ing the sixth and sev­enth in­nings due to er­rors and helped the Ag­gies push their lead to 6-1.

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