Arkansas got a triple dose of bad news on Saturday afternoon in Athens, Ga., when Georgia scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth to take a 9-8 win over the No. 5 Razorbacks at Foley Field.
If not losing a game like that is bad enough, the Hogs were swept in the series. In addition, center fielder Tavian Josenberger injured his hamstring and left the game after the fifth inning.
The Hogs (30-10, 11-7 SEC) held an 8-4 lead entering the bottom of the ninth. Christian Foutch walked Mason LaPlante, Georgia’s No. 9 hitter, to start the inning. Ben Anderson and Charlie Condon followed with singles to load the bases with no outs. Arkansas went to Ben Bybee to try and get the final three outs. Connor Tate greeted Bybee with a grand slam to tie the game. Parks Harber, up next, walked it off with a solo shot over the fence in center field. Bybee (2-1) took the loss while Jarvis Evans (1-0) got the win.
Georgia coach Scott Stricklin was happy, but almost speechless afterward.
“I’m telling you that was unbelievable,” Stricklin said. “Unbelievable. I hardly know what to say or how to describe it.
“I do know this – the wind was blowing and I thought before the game that it might turn into a slugfest. It did, just at the end. Tate and Parks got two fastballs up and got ahold of them.”
Dave Van Horn, who was ejected for arguing a strike call on Jace Bohrofen in the seventh, obviously wasn’t pleased with result. He used Hagen Smith to start then brought in Batesville freshman Gage Wood before turning to Foutch and Bybee.
“We obviously had a four-run lead going into the bottom of the ninth,” Van Horn said. “We were hoping that Foutch could get it done. Really, the plan today was Hagen Smith to Wood to Foutch. But the issue was we needed three innings out of Wood and we only got four outs –  pitches, four outs – so it put a lot of stress on Foutch having to throw more pitches than we were planning.
“I think he just obviously got a little tired there at the end and what happened after that, happened. There was some mistakes made. You’re ahead 1-2 in the count, the pitch is supposed to be down and away. It ended up being kind of up and in and the ball left the yard.”
As far as the injury to Josenberger, Van Horn provided an update.
“Yeah, it’s a concern,” Van Horn said. “Those usually take some time, so I’m going to say it’s going to take some time.”
The loss erased an outstanding performance by third baseman Caleb Cali. He hit two home runs, finshed with three hits and knocked in four runs. Arkansas held a slim 5-4 lead in the top of the eighth when Cali blasted a ball over the fence in center field. Ben McLaughlin had walked and Kendall Diggs doubled ahead of Cali’s blast putting Arkansas up 8-4.
Cali hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning and then Hudson Polk added a solo shot to put Arkansas up 3-2. Condon had put Georgia up 2-0 with a shot off of Smith in the bottom of the third.
Van Horn went into more detail on why he was ejected following the called third strike on Bohrofen.
“I don’t know what the count was on Bohrofen, that’s what I’m talking about, but it was a ball,” Van Horn said. “It was 2-2 or 3-2, but all I know is that it was low, and it looked like it was low and away, and it was kind of a shocking call to us on the other side. We couldn’t believe it.”
Arkansas was swept in an SEC series for the first time since the 2018 season at Mississippi State. Arkansas played at Missouri State on Tuesday night in Springfield.
Friday, April 21: Georgia 7, Arkansas 3
Georgia jumped out to a 7-0 lead through six innings and appeared to be coasting to an easy win over the Hogs.
However, Arkansas fought back in the top of the eight. Harold Coll started the inning with a double. Brady Slavens followed with a two-run home run. Hudson Polk doubled to center field. Advanced to third on a fly out by Tavian Josenberger. He scored on a sacrifice fly out by Bohrofen.
The Hogs then went down in order in the top of the ninth. Bryant’s Will McEntire (5-2) took the loss. He started and went four innings allowing six hits and as many runs. He walked three and fanned a half dozen hitters. Dave Van Horn talked about what got McEntire in trouble with the Bulldog hitters.
“Well, he threw some good breaking balls early, but obviously they clubbed him in the second,” Van Horn said. “When he made a mistake, they hammered it. When he left it up or in. Those were all pull-side home runs. It was a good job of hitting by them. What else can I say? It was pretty obvious.”
Cole Wagner, Sebastian Murillo and Mason LaPlante all homered in the bottom of the second. Fernandez Gonzalez added a two-run blast in the bottom of the fourth.
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