FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas didn't look like the fourth best team in the country Tuesday night.
Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn sounded like he knew it, too, even though the score didn't really show just how dominant the Bears were. Oh, he won't admit it, but he knows they are going to have to do better than they did against Missouri State.
"We just didn't do much," he said after a 6-4 loss.
The Hogs got just four hits on the night, which is a problem that keeps showing up probably a little too often for anybody's comfort.
Arkansas' Chris Lanzilli congratulated at first base after getting one of Razorbacks' rare hits early against Missouri State.
Tuesday night, it appeared it was going to be a blowout as the Bears held a 6-1 lead heading to bottom of the ninth and the Hogs had just two hits.
The numbers guys keep telling me this team compares well with last year's team that was ranked No. 1 all the way until losing to North Carolina State in the Super Regional at Baum-Walker Stadium.
Those stats may tell one story, but the eyeballs say this is a team that isn't going to go to Omaha without buying a ticket.
Unless something changes, which is always possible, but hard to see where it's going to come from at this point of the season.
The same problems offensively cropped up again.
"I saw us chasing balls out of the strike zone," Van Horn said. "A couple of times we were ahead in the count and we chased and we chased. I didn't see a lot of balls hit well."
The Hogs mounted a late rally with three runs in the bottom of the ninth but fell short in a bid to go undefeated in midweek contests for the first time since 2005, had won 18 in a row, including 10 straight this year, before Tuesday night’s setback.
Missouri State took an early lead in the top of the third, powered by Spencer Nivens’ two-run homer off Arkansas starter Will McEntire. The Razorback right-hander went three innings, allowing a pair of runs on a hit and three walks while striking out four.
Starter Will McEntire winds up for a pitch in the first inning of Arkansas' 6-4 loss to Missouri State on Tuesday night at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.
Arkansas answered with a run in the bottom half of the third on Dylan Leach’s fourth homer of the year. Leach’s solo shot cut the deficit to one, but that was as close as the Hogs would get all night.
Nivens collected another RBI in the fifth to extend the Bears’ lead back to two. After a couple of scoreless frames, Missouri State broke out for three runs in the top of the ninth and opened a five-run lead.
Arkansas was far from finished, however. Down to their final out in the bottom of the ninth, Robert Moore’s single brought home Kendall Diggs from second to make it a four-run game.
After Zack Gregory and Jace Bohrofen reached on a hit-by-pitch and throwing error, respectively, Jalen Battles stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and delivered the hit Arkansas had been waiting for all night. The Razorback shortstop lined a single to left field, scoring Gregory and Bohrofen to cut the deficit to two.
Arkansas' Jace Bohrofen delivers a long hit in the Razorbacks' 6-4 loss to Missouri State on Tuesday night.
Leach represented the winning run as he came to bat, but the rally would not proceed. He grounded out with the tying runs on second and third to seal the Hogs’ 6-4 defeat in their final midweek game of the year.
The Hogs were coming off what Van Horn called "an emotional" series win over Ole Miss and they are headed to Auburn before finishing the regular season at home against Vanderbilt next weekend.
"Just told 'em what I saw," Van Horn said about his postgame message to the team. "We've got to learn from this one and move on."
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