Bears Fall to No. 16 Arkansas to Conclude Road Swing
April 30, 2013
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - One of the nation's top pitching staffs showed its mettle against Missouri State Tuesday night, as No. 16 Arkansas used eight pitchers to hold off the Bears in a 6-3 decision at Baum Stadium. UA scored three times in the bottom of the second inning to erase an early deficit, then held MSU hitless over a five-inning span to take control of the game for good.
Starting pitcher Randall Fant (4-1) earned the victory by working the first two innings of a designated short start, and Colby Suggs shut the door on the Razorbacks' 30th victory with an emphatic strikeout for his eighth save of the season.
In between, six additional UA hurlers combined to hold the Bears to a total of five hits for the game, and the Razorback offense scratched out single tallies in the fourth, sixth and seventh frames to build a four-run cushion.
Dominic Ficociello led the Arkansas attack with three hits and a pair of runs scored, and the Razorbacks' bottom three hitters in the order totaled four of UA's six runs batted-in.
Matt Hall (4-2) suffered the loss for MSU after giving up four runs on four hits over four innings.
The evening got off to a promising start for Missouri State, as the Bears (27-13) wasted little time in opening the scoring by capitalizing on a Tate Matheny double and a throwing error by UA third baseman Brian Anderson on Eric Cheray's sacrifice bunt to take a 1-0 lead in the first.
After Hall cruised through a one-two-three first inning with a pair of strikeouts, the Razorbacks kicked their offense into gear in the second, putting their first five batters on base with a little small ball. Anderson atoned for his miscue by coaxing the first of three bases-on-balls issued Hall in the inning to start things off, and Ficociello blooped a base hit into shallow center before a Jordan Farris bunt single loaded the bases.
Hall forced in the first Arkansas run of the night with a four-pitch walk to Jake Wise, then just missed with a 3-2 pitch to Mahan to hand the Razorbacks a 2-1 lead. The left-hander recovered to strike out Brett McAfee for the first out of the inning, but Joe Serrano's sacrifice fly to center plated a third UA run.
The MSU bats would remain quiet through the fifth, as Arkansas would allow just three baserunners over the ensuing four innings, adding to its lead in the fourth on McAfee's RBI single with two out. The Bears would pull to within 4-2 in the sixth when Cheray drew a lead-off walk and came home on Luke Voit's sacrifice fly to right.
But UA (30-15) tacked on tallies in the sixth and seventh innings to push their lead to four runs. Mahan drove in his second run of the night with an RBI grounder, before Tyler Spoon brought the Hogs' sixth run to the plate with a sac fly to center in the seventh.
The Bears would snap their hitless streak with two out in the ninth, as Spencer Johnson went deep to left-center for his first collegiate home run. Travis McComack followed Johnson's blast with a base hit of his own, but Suggs entered and promptly struck out pinch hitter Conor Smith to end the game.
Johnson paced the MSU offense with a 2-for-3 night, reaching base in each of his five plate appearances. Zach Merciez turned in an inning and two-thirds of scoreless relief to lead the Bears' mound effort.
Up next, the Bears return to Hammons Field to open a critical Missouri Valley Conference series against Wichita State Friday at 6:35 p.m.