FAYETTEVILLE — Senior Rick Nomura’s three-hit game coupled with a Carson Shaddy game-tying home run and the insurance triple by Clark Eagan helped Arkansas (26-17, 7-13) take the series opener with the Aggies 9-5 at Baum Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Texas A&M (34-9, 13-7) would even the series in the nightcap of the doubleheader enduring a back-and-forth battle that ended in the 11th inning with a 2-run home run by Hunter Melton. Arkansas forced extra innings after pinch hitter Alex Gosser singled home the game-tying RBI in the ninth, but the Hogs couldn’t put one more across in the extra frames, falling 11-8.
The rubber match between the two clubs will take place Sunday with first pitch set for 1 p.m. CDT. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.
Nomura finished game 1 going 3 for 4 at the plate with 2 RBIs. It was his double in the second inning that put the first two Arkansas runs on the board. The Hogs went on to outscore the Aggies 6-1 over the next four innings, taking an 8-4 lead.
Razorback starting pitcher Dominic Taccolini (5-2) earned his second win in as many starts, going 6 innings strong, allowing 5 earned runs on 9 hits with 6 strikeouts. The Hog bullpen pitched the final three innings as James Teague, Jordan Rodriguez, Josh Alberius and Blaine Knight all combined to give up just 1 hit with no runs crossing the plate.
In game 2, four Razorbacks recorded multiple hits led by Luke Bonfield, who hit a 3-run home run in the first inning, part of a 5-run first for the Hogs. Nomura also notched three more hits in game 2, giving him 6 hits for the day.
Starter Zach Jackson only went 4 2/3 innings in the second game, giving up 7 earned runs on 6 hits with 6 strikeouts. The bullpen kept the Aggies in check in the late innings as Barrett Loseke struck out four over 3 2/3 innings, giving way to Blaine Knight, who tried to close it out in the 10th inning. Knight looked good in his first inning, but gave up the go-ahead home run to Melton in the 11th.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Sophomore Carson Shaddy’s home run in the third inning of game 1 tied the match at 4-4 and started a string of six-straight runs by the Razorbacks. For Shaddy, it was his first home run since March 4 against Eastern Illinois, breaking a homerless streak of 32-straight games.
Arkansas’ four runs in the sixth inning of game 1 ballooned the Hog lead to 8-4 with the big hit coming off a two-run triple by junior Clark Eagan. It was Eagan’s second triple of the year and his 10th as a team for the Razorbacks.
Bonfield’s 3-run home run in the first inning of game 2 was part of a 5-run first inning for the Hogs, putting Arkansas up 5-2 on the Aggies early. Bonfield now ties for the team-lead with 8 home runs on the year.
Alex Gosser’s pinch hit RBI single in the ninth inning of game 2 scored Nomura from second base. Nomura led off the inning with a single and then reached second on a fielding error by the A&M right fielder. The hit was Gosser’s second of the year.
“I thought we played well for the most part. I thought we made a few mistakes in the field and gave them a few extra at-bats in the second game. They gave us a couple in the first ball game and we took advantage of it. It’s tough when we are trying to face a lineup like that. You cannot make too many mistakes; you cannot walk people. That is probably what did us in.” – Dave Van Horn on the day overall
“We are disappointed. We felt like we should have won the ballgame. We let it get away from us in the middle innings. They scored six or seven runs and took the lead. We fought back and finally tied it. Disappointed we did not win both games but we still have a chance to win the series tomorrow. That is kind of our focus now, just move on and get ready for tomorrow.” – Dave Van Horn on dropping game 2
“We swung the bat good all day against some good arms. Everybody they ran out there is throwing 92, 93, 94 miles per hour. We handled it fairly well except for Ecker. We did not hit him very well. We did get the big hit and tied it up. Tomorrow is a new day and I think both teams have used a lot of pitching so it will be an interesting day.” – Dave Van Horn on the offensive output
The Razorbacks and Aggies will play the series-deciding game Sunday at 1 p.m. at Baum Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.