HOUSTON, TX- On Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park, the Arkansas Razorbacks won a four-hour marathon of a game against Texas Tech by the score of 10-6. Neither team is likely to put this game among the cleanest or prettiest games they have played as a program, but for the Razorbacks, it was huge, as it pushed them to a perfect 3-0 record for the weekend.
Tech will lament surrendering a 5-0 lead that they built after one inning of play, but against this type of competition, head coach Tim Tadlock has to be happy to come away with a 2-1 record for the weekend.
Some notes and thoughts from the tournament finale for both of these teams:
- It couldn’t have been a much tougher start for Arkansas’ Keaton McKinney, who gave up three hits, walked two, and hit a batter in two-thirds of an inning on the way to being charged with five earned runs. In his postgame comments, head coach Dave Van Horn said that McKinney is generally a strike-thrower but spent much of his time up in the zone today. Given that Blaine Knight lasted just two innings on Saturday and McKinney couldn’t get out of the first on Sunday, Van Horn and pitching coach Dave Jorn might not have much choice but to reevaluate their starting rotation moving forward.
- After hitting two on Saturday, Michael Bernal had yet another home run on Sunday, his fourth of the season already. He mentioned after the game Saturday that he spent much of the offseason working on getting stronger with an eye on hitting for more power. So far, so good.
- Speaking of impressive home run displays, Clark Eagan joined the home run club for Arkansas today with a solo shot in the fifth inning that hit off of the ConocoPhillips sign behind the Crawford Boxes. Eagan was 2-for-3 on the day with a triple, the aforementioned homer, a walk, two RBI, and three runs scored.
- Tucker Pennell had an eventful game. After going 1-for-7 in the first two games of the weekend, he went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles on Sunday. He was also involved in perhaps the strangest play of the game when he scored from second base on an Eric Cole fly out to center field. Texas Tech center fielder Tanner Gardner must have thought the catch was the third out of the inning, because after making the catch, he throttled down and began to jog as if he was getting ready to leave the field. All the while, Pennell was rounding third base and heading home. Because Pennell, a catcher, isn’t the fleetest of foot, it was a close play, but he beat the tag.
- Chandler Eden was a huge pickup for Texas Tech in this most recent recruiting class. Eden flashed big-time stuff in his brief stay at Oregon State before transferring to Yavapai College for the 2015 season. In the offseason, rather than signing with the Blue Jays as their 17th-round pick, he chose to head to Lubbock. In his outing on Sunday, he really struggled, giving up two hits and two earned runs, to go along with three wild pitches, in 1.1 innings of work. His electric stuff was also missing, as he was reportedly topping out around 89.
- You have to tip your cap to the Arkansas bullpen. They were put in a tough spot after McKinney failed to get out of the first, and they responded. As a group, they tossed 8.1 innings, giving up eight hits and one run. The game-ending quartet of Hunter Hart (1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R), Weston Rogers (0.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R), Doug Willey (1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 K), and Jordan Rodriguez (1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R) were particularly effective in shutting down the Red Raiders and hanging onto the lead.
- Quietly, Texas Tech’s Michael Davis had an incredible tournament. He went 2-for-5 on Sunday with two RBI, bringing him to 7-for-12 on the weekend. He was also the only Texas Tech player to have multiple hits in each of the three games.
Arkansas Head Coach Dave Van Horn
On his team’s comeback from an early 5-0 deficit:
“I’m just real proud of the team. They didn’t panic. They knew we had 24 outs left on our side. We just chipped away a little, took advantage of one misplayed ball and ended up getting the lead there (in the fourth). We have a lot of new players- 17, 18 new guys- that kind of got a real sense of how good the competition is, especially down here. I think we grew up a lot as a team this weekend.”
On the razor-thin margins in a tournament like this:
“The field was extremely strong. One bad play, one bad pitch away from losing. We seemed to make the plays. I think we went 27 innings without making an error, and that’s probably why we won.”
On Keaton McKinney:
“His issue is his location. Usually he’s a strike-throwing machine, and he was high with everything. He’s got a really good changeup, but if you’re behind in the count all the time, it makes it a little more difficult to throw it. Usually he’s working the bottom of the knees, but it didn’t happen today. Hopefully he’ll be better next weekend if we give him the ball.”
On how his bullpen is shaping up:
“It’s getting better, that’s for sure. I didn’t realize we used seven (pitchers) both days. That’s a lot of pitchers. It’s good for the future, because we’re going to need every one of them when it gets into league play. Our goal is to try to get it figured out before we head to South Carolina in about three weeks.”
Texas Tech Head Coach Tim Tadlock:
On his team’s loss:
“We gave a few runs away. We like our club, but at the same time, we gave some runs away today. I don’t know if anybody was real sharp on the mound. Maybe Nicholson for his first outing of the year. He did a great job. If you do that a little earlier in the game, maybe you have a chance to mount something there at the end. We left a lot of guys on. Tip your hat to their guys as far as that goes; they made some pitches.”
On his takeaways for the entire weekend:
“The kids played hard. We definitely grew some throughout the weekend. We learned something about our rotation today. On Sunday, we’ve got to figure out something. All three of those guys- Moseley, Harpenau, and Damron- have the ability to pitch. It’s just a matter of going out and doing it.”