Hogs fall to Baylor, fail to win a game at Shriners Classic
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Arkansas will return from its first road trip without a victory.
The Razorbacks squandered several chances and ultimately came up a run short in a 3-2 loss to Baylor to cap a winless weekend at the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic in Houston.
After losing games to Oklahoma and Texas in which it had the game-tying runs at the plate and in scoring position in the ninth inning, respectively, Arkansas once again had an opportunity to tie it up late against the Bears on Sunday.
Trailing 3-0, Heston Kjerstad led off the eighth inning with a single and Matt Goodheart followed with an RBI double to break up the shutout. Later in the inning, Braydon Webb drove in Goodheart on a two-out single and took second on a hustle play.
The throw initially went home on Webb’s RBI, but Baylor catcher Andy Thomas quickly threw it to second when Webb tried to take the extra base. Luckily for the Razorbacks, he barely slid in safely ahead of the tag to put the tying run in scoring position.
That’s where the rally died, though, as Jacob Nesbit was called out on strikes to strand him and then Arkansas went down in order in the ninth.
It was a disappointing finish to a disappointing weekend for the Razorbacks, who won their first seven games of the season but now enter the final week before conference play at 7-3.
They’ll host Illinois State for the first midweek game of the year at 3 p.m. Wednesday before welcoming South Alabama - the preseason favorite to win the Sun Belt’s east division - to Baum-Walker Stadium for a three-game series beginning Friday.
Nesbit’s strikeout with the tying run on second was part of Arkansas’ 1-for-11 performance with runners in scoring position, with the lone hit being Webb’s RBI in the at bat before.
Up until that point, the Razorbacks had been 0 for 9 in those situations.
Most of those came in the first half of the game against Baylor starter Hayden Kettler. The right-hander didn’t throw very hard, but he gave the Bears five scoreless innings thanks to Arkansas’ inability to come up with timely hits.
The Razorbacks had runners on the corners in the first and second inning, but Christian Franklin grounded out to end the first threat and then Kettler got Cole Austin to pop out and Zack Gregory to strike out to escape the second jam.
In the fourth and fifth innings, Arkansas couldn’t do anything with two-out doubles by Nesbit and Kjerstad, as Austin grounded out and Goodheart struck out. The first of those was particularly tough because third baseman Esteban Cardoza-Oquendo made a diving stop to rob Austin of extra bases and an RBI.
Timely hitting was an issue for the Razorbacks all weekend, as they went just 4 for 32 (.125) with runners in scoring position in the three losses - which were by a combined five runs.
Ramage’s 2nd Start
Much like Arkansas, Baylor also had some early opportunities to put runs on the board, but Kole Ramage did an excellent job of working out of the jams.
In each of the first three innings, the Bears’ leadoff man reached base only to be stranded on second every time. Baylor went 0 for 7 once it got into scoring position during that stretch, with Ramage retiring preseason Big 12 Player of the Year Nick Loftin twice.
The right-hander also struck out three straight batters after allowing a leadoff double to Mack Mueller in the second inning.
Ironically, when Ramage actually got the leadoff man out, Baylor scored both times. In the fourth inning, a wild pitch following a walk proved costly, as it moved Mueller into scoring position and he scored the game’s first run on Davion Downey’s RBI single.
It looked like he might get through his first clean inning of the night when he retired the first two batters in the seventh, but he ran into some two-out trouble. Loftin finally made his impact felt with an RBI double to score Ricky Martinez, who had kept the inning alive with a single.
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