Junior Matt Reynolds had three hits including a go-ahead RBI on a fielder's choice to lead the University of Arkansas baseball team to a hard-fought, 5-4, victory over Sam Houston State in the first game of the NCAA Houston Regional on Friday afternoon at Reckling Park on the campus of Rice University.
The Arkansas victory improves the Razorbacks to 40-19 on the year and advances Arkansas in the winner's bracket of the Houston Regional where they will play the winner of the Rice-Prairie View A&M game scheduled for later today. Sam Houston State falls to 38-21 on the year with the loss.
Sam Houston State had a scoring chance in the top of the second, but was unable to get on the board. With one out, Kevin Miller blooped a single into shallow right field. After a strikeout of Ryan O'Hearn, John Hale was hit by a pitch and Jessie Plumlee walked to load the bases with two outs. Baxendale got Corey Toups to strike out swinging to end the inning.
Arkansas grabbed the lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth. Reynolds led off the inning with his second hit of the day, a double to right-center that popped out of the glove of the diving right fielder. A walk to Brian Anderson put runners on first and second with nobody out. Bo Bigham laid down a sacrifice bunt. The Sam Houston State pitcher attempted to throw Reynolds out at third, but the throw was late, loading the bases. Derrick Bleeker and Jake Wise then hit back-to-back sacrifice flies to score a pair of runs and give the Razorbacks a 2-0 lead.
The Bearkats answered back with four runs in the top of the fifth. Hale led off the inning with a single, but was thrown out trying to advance to third after a single by Plumlee. Toups reached on a fielder's choice, with Plumlee advancing to second on a throwing error by Tim Carver at shortstop. Colt Atwood then reached on a fielder's choice to second with Toups advancing to second on a fielding error by Bo Bigham. Luke Plucheck brought in the first run of the day for SHSU on a fielder's choice ground out to third with Atwood being retired at second on the play. A single to center field by Anthony Azar tied the game at two and put runners on first and third. Jake Arrington then hit a fly ball to left. Bleeker misjudged the ball, coming in at first and then racing back to the warning track where the ball popped out of his glove and went for a triple that scored two runs and put the Bearkats in front 4-2.
Arkansas regained the lead with three runs in the bottom of the seventh. Jake Wise led off the inning with a double down the left field line and Matt Vinson walked to put runners on first and second. A base hit to left by Joe Serrano loaded the bases with nobody out. Carver tied the game with a two-RBI single into left field. A walk to Dominic Ficociello loaded the bases for the second time in the inning. Reynolds drove in the go-ahead run on a fielder's choice ground out to shortstop.