Razorbacks take game two to split with Kentucky

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Whitney Cloer hit two home runs in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader to help Arkansas (17-10, 6-1) win, 8-5, and earn a split on the day with Kentucky (18-7, 5-3). In the first game, a sloppy second inning put the Razorbacks behind early in an 11-4 defeat. In game one, the Wildcats put the first run on the board in the first inning, but it was the mistake-laden second that cost Arkansas. Kentucky scored seven runs, only one earned, on a combination of two Razorback errors, two walks, two hit batters, one wild pitch and just two hits. The seven runs scored marks the most given up in one inning this year by Arkansas.

“I’d like for us to be a little cleaner in the circle,” head coach Jamie Pinkerton said. “If you take away seven unearned runs, you have a 4-4 score (in game one).”

The Razorbacks cut into their deficit with three runs in their half of the second. Kayla Johnson led off the inning with a double to left center. Miranda Dixon and Amie Hubbard earned walks behind her to load the bases with no outs. Kentucky recorded to outs and looked to be out of trouble before Jocelyne Moncrief doubled to right center to clear the bases to make the score 8-3.

The visitors scored a run in each of the next two innings, including a home run in the fourth by Samantha DeMartine. Arkansas got one of those runs back in the bottom of the fourth when Jessica Bachkora earned a bases-loaded walk that scored Dixon.

But Kentucky extended its lead to the final margin, 11-4, when Brittany Cervantes led off the top of the sixth with a home run to left field. Kim Jones was credited with the loss which evens her record to 5-5. The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak the Razorbacks had against Kentucky. Wildcats’ starter Chanda Bell struck out 15 batters on her way to a win.

Cervantes gave her team the early lead in game two with an RBI single in the first to plate Molly Johnson, but Arkansas responded with a three-run first to take its first lead of the day. After Bachkora led off the inning with a walk, Cloer drove an Amber Matousek offering over the right field wall for a 2-1 lead. Johnson, the next batter, drew a walk, stole second and then scored on a double to left center by Hubbard.

Cloer picked up her third RBI of the game with a single to plate Brittany Griffiths in the bottom of the second. Griffiths led off the inning with a single to left field. She was sacrificed to second by a Tori Mort bunt.

Kentucky drew within a run when Johnson led off the third with a home run to left center and Meagan Aull came around to score on a throwing error later in the inning. Dixon struck out Katie McCarty with the bases loaded to end the Wildcats’ threat.

“It was good to bounce back (in game two),” Pinkerton said. “I like the way we fought in game two. I liked the mental approach we had at the plate and the way we set the tone in the first inning. We let them back in the game in the third with a defensive mistake, but we were able to outscore them in the middle stanzas and hang on. I’m happy with the split and now we’ve got a chance to win the series tomorrow.”

Sandra Smith broke out of a recent slump with a line-drive shot over the left field fence to lead off the Razorbacks’ half of the fourth. Smith finished the game with two hits, ending a four-game hitless streak.

Arkansas tacked on two more in the fifth when Dixon hit a two-run home run to left center. Johnson, who reached on an error to start the inning, scored in front of Dixon. It was her first home run since Feb. 13. With the victory, Dixon improves to 10-2 on the season.

“Today was a huge weight off both of their shoulders,” Pinkerton said of Smith and Dixon. “They had both been pressing so much prior to this week. Miranda has done a really good job of separating pitching woes from hitting woes. I feel if they keep their heads straight, they’ll be ok.”

Cloer added her second home run of the day in the sixth to give Arkansas an extra insurance run and an 8-4 lead.

In the Wildcats’ half of the seventh, Aull started the inning with a double. The next batter, Natalie Smith, lifted a high fly ball to shallow left. Griffiths and Mort both converged on the ball with Mort making a sliding catch to record the out and then firing the ball to Johnson at second to pick off Aull for the second out. With two outs, Cervantes homered for the second time of the day and keep the UK hopes alive, but Destinee Mordecai lined out to Hubbard at third to end the game.

The series finale between the conference foes is set for Sunday at 1 p.m. at Bogle Park. The game will be broadcast on KXUA Fayetteville (88.3 FM) and live stats will be available at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.

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