Hey, Diamond Hog fans! It's been roughly two weeks since my last update, and, unfortunately, I don't have a lot of good news to report. The Hogs lost key relief pitcher Geoffrey Davenport for the season with an elbow injury. He'll have to have Tommy John surgery, so he may be out longer than that, or even done with baseball completely. The Hogs have also lost both of the SEC series - a road trip to Auburn, and a homestand against the #2 Vanderbilt Commodores. This is a young team, and most definitely a rebuilding year, but it appears that the weak non-conference schedule did the team no favors. The Razorbacks also got to particpate in a rare home-and-home/minor-league-park-tour series with the Memphis Tigers. The Hogs played their "home game" at Dickey-Stephens Park in NLR, while Memphis hosted the Hogs at Autozone Park.
Kansas (midweek game) - Despite taking a 4-2 win over one of the more-solid non-conference opponents, Davenport injures his elbow on the final pitch (for a strikeout) of the 8th inning.
Game 1 - The Hogs claw their way to a 6-5, 11th inning victort over the Tigers. Freshman Nolan Sanburn looks like a veteran in holding the potent Auburn offense at bay in the 9th, 10th, and 11th innings.
Game 2 - A combination of young pitching and missed offensive opportunities does the Hogs in this game. Auburn explodes for 6 runs in the 4th inning (including a grand slam), and tally 9 runs on 9 hits through the 9th inning. Meanwhile, Arkansas only manages 5 runs on 10 hits for the game, including a 3-run rally in the 9th to bring the final score to 5-9.
Game 3 - Now, the heartbreaker. After fighting back to take a 5-4 lead in the 8th inning, Auburn produces 4 runs in the bottom of the frame. The Hogs wouldn't go quietly, but their 9th inning rally stops comes up short and they lose 7-8.
Memphis (midweek series) - After suffering a heartbreaking set-back on the Plains, the Hogs looked hungover throughout most of Game 1 at Dickey-Stephens Park, until a 5-run 8th inning seals the 7-2 win. Game 2 at Autozone Park went much better, with the Diamond Hogs putting up 5 runs in the 4th inning and coasting to a 7-3 victory.
Game 1 - The Commodores have an unbelievable talented pitching staff, but the Hogs score 2 runs in the 8th to squeak by with a 2-1 victory in the series opener.
Game 2 - Vanderbilt strikes early, and builds a 4-0 lead through the 5th inning. Meanwhile, the Hogs only tally 2 hits on the day, and commit 4 errors, en route to a 1-4 loss.
Game 3 - Another heartbreaker. Vanderbilt builds a 2-0 lead through the 4th. The Hogs manage 7 hits, but only convert one run (unacceptable), and the tying and winning runs are left stranded in the bottom of the 9th. Hogs lose 1-2.
It is what it is. The Diamond Hogs fall to 18-6 (2-4 SEC) on the year. I suppose the fact that they were competitive in both SEC series is a redeeming quality, but the wins aren't going to come easily. Strangely enough, the Razorbacks' rankings in the polls weren't affected much by back to back conference losses. USA Today has the Hogs at 13, while other polls have them in the 20s (to low 30s). Even with the losses, the RPI has received a huge boost up to 36, simply by playing teams with a pulse. I wouldn't expect that trend to continue if the losses continue to pile up, though. Up next for the Hogs is a midweek game at Baum against Oklahoma, followed by a weekend series in Tuscaloosa against the Crimson Tide. Hopefully these Hogs can get it turned around.