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A&M Doomed By Arkansasí Four-Run Eighth in 7-3 Loss

May 10, 2014
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas – For the second straight night, the Texas A&M Aggies clawed back to tie the game late only to surrender the game-winning runs the next half-inning in a 7-3 loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks at Baum Stadium on Saturday.

The loss came one night after tying the game in the top of the ninth, but giving up a walk-off single in the home half in a 3-2 loss.

Texas A&M (30-21, 12-14 SEC) slowly erased a 3-0 deficit with single runs in the fourth, seventh and eighth frames, but fell victim to the Razorbacks’ four-run eighth.

Trailing by three runs, the Aggies broke the scoring seal in the top of the fourth inning. Ryne Birk started the frame by belting a 1-0 offering over the head of the rightfielder for a leadoff double. Birk moved to third on a groundout to second by Cole Lankford and scored when Nick Banks bounced a single up the middle to cut the Arkansas lead to 3-1.

Texas A&M trimmed a run off the margin in the top of the seventh. Banks started the inning by cueing a ball down the leftfield line for a leadoff double and scored when Jonathan Moroney drove a 2-2 offering to the warning track in left-center for a double, shaving the advantage to 3-2.

The Aggies mounted another rally in the eighth. With one out, Birk deposited a single down the rightfield line and Cole Lankford followed with a single to rightfield. Arkansas catcher Jake Wise was unable to glove the third strike to Banks, allowing both Birk and Lankford to move into scoring position with two outs. With Moroney at the plate, reliever Zac Jackson uncorked a wild pitch allowing Birk to score the tying run.

The A&M momentum was lost in the home half of the eighth. With reliever Matt Kent working for the Aggies, Michael Bernal started the inning by snaking a single through the left side of the infield and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Clark Eagan. Kent induced the second out of the inning when Joe Serrano popped up to first baseman Lankford in foul territory. Kent got ahead of Andrew Benintendi, 0-1, but the Razorbacks’ centerfielder drove a ball deep into the hole at second base. Birk made a diving stop in shallow rightfield, but had no play at first, and Bernal, running on contact, motored home for the go-ahead run. Birk made an ill-advised through to first, which arrived late and wide, allowing Benintendi to move to second on the error. Brian Anderson plated Benintendi with a single to centerfield to inflate the cushion to two runs and Eric Fisher capped off the rally with a two-run home run over the fence in right-center to push the edge to 7-3.

Texas A&M went down in order in the ninth to clinch the series for Arkansas.

The Razorbacks took advantage of an error by the Aggies to start a rally in the second. Anderson reached base on a throwing error by shortstop Blake Allemand to start the frame. Anderson moved to second on a wild pitch and Fisher was issued a base on balls to put two on. Both runners moved into scoring position on a groundout to shortstop by Tyler Spoon. Anderson scored on a wild pitch and Bobby Wernes bounced a single up the middle to plate Fisher and stake the Razorbacks to a 2-0 lead.

Arkansas (32-20, 13-13 SEC) added a run in the bottom of the third inning. Bernal poked a full-count pitch to rightfield to start the frame and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Eagan. With two outs, Benintendi gapped a single to left-center to knock in Bernal for the 3-0 advantage.

Aggie starter Grayson Long labored through 5.1 innings, yielding three runs, two earned, on four hits and three walks while striking out one. Kent (2-1) was saddled with the loss, allowing two runs on two hits while striking out one in 2.1 innings.

Arkansas starter Chris Oliver yielded two runs on five hits and one walk while striking out three over 7.0 innings. Jacob Stone (4-0) earned the win, retiring all four batters he faced in 1.1 innings of work.

The freshmen duo of Birk and Banks led the Aggie offensive arsenal. Birk batted 2-for-4 with two runs and one double Banks went 2-for-3 with one hit-by-pitch, one double, one run and one RBI.

The Razorbacks had three players record multiple hits with Benintendi, Anderson and Bernal logging two apiece. Benintendi went 2-for-3 with one walk, one run and two RBI. Anderson went 2-for-4 with two runs and one RBI. Bernal hit 2-for-3 with two runs.

Arkansas and Texas A&M wrap up the three-game series on Sunday with a 1 pm contest at Baum Stadium.

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