Hoover, Ala. – The baseball Hogs trounced number one seed Florida 8-2 behind the pitching of Blaine Knight, Barrett Loseke and Matt Cronin while banging out 10 hits and a pair of home runs to go 2-0 in the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama. The win moved Arkansas into the tournament semifinals on Saturday against the winner of the Florida-LSU game later on Friday.
The Hogs struck first. After Luke Bonfield had walked in the top of the 2nd Casey Martin hit his third home run in the tournament to give Arkansas the early 2-0 lead. The Gators threatened in the bottom of the 3rd putting two on with a double and a one out walk off of Knight. But Fletcher ended the threat with a diving catch of Nelson Maldonado’s liner into shallow field before gunning down Jordan Girand trying to go from second to third on the play.
Arkansas got out of another jam in the 4th. Leading off for Florida, Wil Dalton reached third on a walk, a balk by Knight and an infield sacrifice. Knight then threw out Dalton at home on a dribbler to the left of the mound by Brady Smith. A flyball to left ended the inning.
Nick Horwath drilled a one out single to left off Knight in the 5th. But the Hog’s unbeaten starter responded wth his fourth strikeout of the game followed by a ground out to third.
Arkansas scored two more in the 6th. Heston Kjerstad opened the frame with a fly ball single to left center. Luke Bonfield walked and Fletcher singled Kjerstad home for a 3-0 lead. Bonfield would later score on Jared Gates single to left for a 4-0 advantage.
Jonathan India put Florida on the scoreboard with a solo home run in the bottom of the 6th.
Arkansas threatened again in the 7th. Jax Biggers and Eric Cole both walked to open the innng. But Carson Shaddy hit into a double play and Biggers was left on third after Kjerstad grounded out to the pitcher.
Barrett Loseke replaced Knight in the bottom of the 7th and set Florida down on a pair of strikeouts and a pop fly to first. But after issuing two walks to open the 8th Loseke gave way to Matt Cronin who recorded a strikeout before the runners were able to advance on a ball in the dirt. After a walk and with the bases loaded Austin Langworthy hit a sacrifice fly to left scoring Florida’s second run of the game. But that would be it as Cronin ended the inning on another strikeout.
Hunter Wilson then broke the game open in the top of the 9th with a pinch hit grand slam giving the Razorbacks an 8-2 lead. Cronin set the Gators down in order in the bottom of the 9th to complete the win.