Consecutive bases-loaded HBPs erase 4-3 9th-inning lead
By The Associated Press
WACO — Arkansas scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning on hit batters with the bases loaded and the Razorbacks beat Baylor 5-4 on Sunday to force a decisive third game in the super regional.
Arkansas (43-20) entered the ninth inning trailing 4-3 with Baylor closer Max Garner (3-3) on the mound. After loading the bases he hit pinch-hitter Jimmy Bosco with a 2-2 fastball to tie the game. Crayton Bare came on and hit John Clay Reeves with his first pitch.
“It was definitely one of the craziest (RBIs) I’ve ever had,” Reeves said. “It was a great feeling just to know that you stood in there and helped your team out.”
Baylor (49-16) will host the Razorbacks Monday with the winner advancing to the College World Series.
Trent Daniel (2-0), who got one out in the top of ninth, got the win for Arkansas.
Garner walked Matt Reynolds to open the ninth and gave up a one-out single to Brian Anderson before Bo Bigham hit a potential game-ending double-play ball to shortstop Jake Miller.
Miller, who had handled several tough plays flawlessly, dropped the ball, grabbed at it twice and couldn’t get either runner, leaving the bases loaded. Garner then hit Bosco and was relieved by Bare, who threw one pitch.
Arkansas reliever Barrett Astin worked out of a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the eighth. After loading the bases on a hit batter, a walk and a bunt single, Astin struck out Cal Towey and got Lawton Langford to hit into a double play.
“We felt like when we turned that double play, we were going to win the game,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “It was an incredible play, and it kept us excited in the dugout.”
For the Bears, who lost a three-run lead in the ninth inning of their regional final last year against California, the ending was all too familiar.
“We are just trying to keep our heads up at this point,” said Baylor ace Josh Turley, who was in line for the victory after retiring the last 13 hitters he faced in seven solid innings. “Unlike last year, at least the season is not over. We at least have one more game and we are going to fight to the end.
“This is postseason baseball. This is where you see the unexpected and that just happened to be the case today.”
The Bears, who hit three home runs in Saturday’s 8-1 win to open the series, took a 4-3 lead in the top of the fifth despite hitting only one ball out of the infield. After a walk and an infield single, Logan Vick drove in one run with a liner to center, and Josh Ludy and Max Muncy followed with RBI groundouts.
Arkansas scored in the first inning thanks to a misplay by Baylor. Designated hitter Joe Serrano’s drive to left-center eluded a diving Dan Evatt and rolled to the wall when Vick overran the play. Serrano went in with a standup triple and scored on Reynolds’ sacrifice fly.
The Bears tied it on Muncy’s RBI single in the third, but centerfielder Matt Vinson prevented a bigger inning by throwing out Nathan Orf at the plate on Ludy’s fly to shallow center.
Dominic Ficociello, who was 3-for-4 with an RBI in the opener, put the Razorbacks back on top in the third with a two-run double after two-out singles by Serrano and Reynolds.