BATON ROUGUE, La. – Collin Kuhn had a career-high four RBI and Drew Smyly worked six innings of two-hit ball for the No. 13 University of Arkansas baseball team but third-ranked LSU rallied to come away with the 8-7 win Saturday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium. Kuhn and Zack Cox each homered for the Razorbacks. Arkansas (13-4, 1-1 SEC) led by as many as four runs but LSU (15-3, 1-1) used a big seventh-inning to earn the win.
“It was just one of those games,” head coach Dave Van Horn said. “We felt like we had it and all we had to do was execute the pitches, but it just didn’t happen.”
As they did in game one of the series, the Tigers took the early lead after an RBI single by Micah Gibbs in the bottom of the first. With runners on first and second and one out, Gibbs bounced a shot down the line in left field allowing Tyler Hanover to score the game’s first run. Smyly responded to strike out the final two hitters of the inning and limit the damage to one run.
Arkansas put a four spot on the scoreboard in the top of the third. Bo Bigham collected the Hogs’ first hit of the game with a single up the middle. Matt Vinson followed with a four-pitch. The runners were moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Jarrod McKinney. Kuhn doubled off the wall in left field to plate both runs and give Arkansas a 2-1 lead.
After a stolen base by Kuhn and a walk to Cox, the Razorbacks had runners on first and third with one out in the third. Andy Wilkins was called out on strikes but Monk Kreder delivered with a two-run double to the gap in right center to extend Arkansas’ advantage to 4-1.
Vinson reached bases in all four of his plate appearances Saturday. He doubled in the sixth and drew three walks from LSU pitchers. The Razorback freshman also scored two runs in the game.
Smyly recovered nicely from giving up an early run. After Gibbs’ hit in the first inning, Smyly didn’t allow another hit until Gibbs singled again in the sixth. He tied a season high with five walks but used five strikeouts to keep LSU off the scoreboard in his final five innings of work.
“He did a great job,” Van Horn said. “He got out of a couple of jams early and then got on a bit of a roll. They were taking some good swings in his last innings because they knew he was just throwing his fastball for the most part.”
With one down in the top of the fifth, Cox doubled to left field, extending his hitting streak to 17 games. Later in the inning, Bourgeois issued back-to-back walks to Kreder and Brett Eibner to load the bases with two outs. The home team got out of trouble with a force play at second base on a ground ball off the bat of Tim Carver to end the inning.
The Razorbacks got into the LSU bullpen in the seventh when Daniel Bradshaw came on in relief of Bourgeois. On the second pitch of the inning, Cox lined a solo shot into the bleachers in right field, his third home run of the season. During his 17-game hit streak, Cox has at least two hits on nine occasions. His home run gave the Hogs a 5-1 lead.
LSU put together its rally to go ahead in the seventh, touchup up the Razorback bullpen for seven runs. The Tigers batted around and were aided by four walks, a hit batter and a wild pitch from Arkansas. Blake Dean’s two-run single knotted the score at 5-all. Mikie Mahtook drew a bases-loaded walk, the second of the frame, to plate the go-ahead run. The home team tacked on two more scores to take an 8-5 lead.
The Tigers turned to their closer Matty Ott to start the eighth. He struck out two of the first three batters, but Kuhn put a charge into a 2-1 pitch from Ott and cleared the fence in left field to pull the Razorback to within one. Vinson, who drew a walk earlier in the inning, scored ahead of Kuhn. The home run for Kuhn was his third of the season, matching his total from a year ago.
After getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the eighth, Arkansas came to the plate for its final opportunity in the ninth. Eibner worked a walk out of Ott to lead off the frame and was eventually replaced with pinch-runner Kyle Atkins. After a Carver fly out to left, Atkins was picked off for the second out. The game came to an end with Bigham striking out.
With the series now even at a game apiece, Arkansas and LSU will go for the series win in Sunday’s game three. First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 1 p.m. with Eibner on the mound for the Razorbacks and Chris Matulis getting the start for LSU.