Arkansas’ first six games of the season, the Diamond Hogs picked up good, occasionally great, pitching performances. Game seven, the staff finally struggled.
San Diego took advantage. The Torreros lineup chased Barrett Loseke in the third inning, ran off Evan Lee after he picked up four outs, and rattled Kole Ramage for an inning. They scored five runs in the fifth inning to turn a one-run deficit into a four-run lead, then stayed the course en route to a 7-6 win. The Diamond Hogs leave the Tony Gwynn Classic losers of two of three and an even .500 on their road trip to southern California.
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn tried Loseke in the Sunday starting spot for the first time in more than a year. Loseke, who had an optimistic freshman season, was lost last year after getting into Van Horn’s doghouse. His control was his biggest buggaboo. By the time Arkansas had played a couple SEC series, Loseke was out of favor.
Control wasn’t the problem against San Diego. The opposing lineup just raked him. Loseke gave up two singles, a double and a homer before being pulled for Lee in the third. Arkansas still had the lead at that point, thanks to three runs in the top of the second inning. It held for three more outs.
A walk and a single led to Ramage. After three San Diego singles and a walk from the freshman pitcher, the game had been broken up. Jacob Kostyshock, who had a 6.75 earned-run average in six games last year, was on. Van Horn elected to save his best pitchers for next week, when the Diamond Hogs play five games, all at Baum Stadium.
The Razorbacks (5-2) nearly pulled back, anyway. Eric Cole’s RBI single in the seventh cut San Diego’s lead to three. Grant Koch then popped a 2-run single in the eighth to pull Arkansas within one. A 1-2-3 ninth, however, finished things.
Arkansas did its damage with two outs in the second. Freshman catcher Casey Optiz picked up his first career RBI with a single to score Carson Shaddy. Jax Biggers, a couple batters later, doubled to plate Opitz and Casey Martin, who walked.
Grading the Hogs
Loseke was actually fair until the wheels fell off.
Lee’s struggles are a bit concerning after his solid freshman season. Ramage doesn’t appear ready quite yet.
Six runs on nine hits is normally enough. It came too late, though.
The Big Stick + The Arm
Someone has to get it and there was enough OK-ness to hand it to the Tulsa, Oklahoma, native. If you’re digging for positive, no walks against 12 hitters is a good sign. He still leaves the ball too up in the zone, though, which leads to the, quite literally, hard knocks. Five of his outs came from flyballs. Not ideal.
He isn’t going to take over behind the plate for Koch on the regular but he’s a rare quality hitter back there.
What’s next for Arkansas?
The Diamond Hogs return to Fayetteville for a two-game set with Dayton starting Wednesday.
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