FAYETTEVILLE -- A ball Arkansas Razorbacks catcher Grant Koch picked at home plate and one Texas A&M right fielder Chandler Morris couldn't hold onto were game-changing plays Saturday at Baum Stadium.
Koch saved at least two runs in the first inning by catching a one-hop throw home from third baseman Casey Martin, and the Razorbacks scored two runs in the seventh inning on a double by Carson Shaddy when Morris failed on a diving catch attempt as the No. 6 Razorbacks beat the No. 20 Aggies 3-1 before an announced crowd of 8,876.
The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville (35-15, 16-10) won its ninth consecutive home game and stayed atop the SEC West standings.
Texas A&M (34-16, 12-14) loaded the bases with one out in the first inning against Arkansas starter Kacey Murphy when Chris Andritsos hit a line drive at Martin, who made a back-handed stop, jumped to his feet and fired home to Koch for a force out.
The throw hit the dirt but stuck in Koch's glove.
"That was just a tremendous play by Grant," Razorbacks Coach Dave Van Horn said. "If that ball gets by him, that's two runs in, and runners at second and third and still just one out."
Koch said he made the play instinctively.
"It was a good play by Marty because it was too late for a double play, and he came to me trying to get an out," Koch said. "I really didn't think about it too much because I was just trying to make a play, and it happened."
Murphy (6-4) got Logan Foster on a fly out to left field to end the inning as the Aggies left the bases loaded.
"It was game-changing," Shaddy said of Koch's play. "Grant was a hero in that inning. He came up in the clutch for us. That was enormous for us in our mentality for the rest of the day."
Shaddy was the hero in the seventh inning when his double off Nolan Hoffman scored Martin and Heston Kjerstad -- who had walked and singled, respectively -- to put Arkansas ahead 3-0.
"We finally got a break with the wind when the ball dropped in out there," Van Horn said. "It's amazing how the game works. When he hit it, if there's no wind, the ball goes out of the park."
But the wind was blowing in and Morris initially went back on the ball, the wind knocked it down, and he couldn't recover to make the catch.
"When you're playing a close game against a really good team, those things are magnified," Texas A&M Coach Rob Childress said. "Certainly that one was magnified in today's game."
Shaddy drove in all of Arkansas' runs, including a two-out RBI single in the first inning that scored Eric Cole -- who hit a leadoff double -- to put the Razorbacks ahead 1-0.
Including a three-run home run in the Razorbacks' 9-3 victory Friday night, Shaddy has six RBI in the first two games of his final regular-season home series.
"It's been everything I could dream of except that stupid error," Shaddy, a senior second baseman, said of misplaying a ground ball in the fourth inning. "I'm still mad at myself about that.
"But [the weekend] is exactly how you would draw it up, I guess. I just need to come out and do it again tomorrow."
Texas A&M made it 3-1 in the ninth inning on a sacrifice fly by Cam Blake and got the tying runs on base, but Barrett Loseke struck out Cole Bedford swinging to end the game and earn his third save.
Murphy, a junior left-hander from Rogers Heritage, went a career-long 7 1/3 innings and threw 108 pitches. He held the Aggies scoreless as they left runners on third base in the first, third and fifth innings.
"First off, he believes he can do it," Van Horn said of Murphy's ability to escape jams. "He's pretty confident.
"He hit spots. If you don't throw the ball in the middle of the plate, you've got a shot. If you're throwing it on the corners and you locate it well with a little deception, a lot of times the hitters get themselves out, and that's what Murphy relies on."
Koch said Murphy did a good job of mixing up his fastball, curve and slider.
"He's so consistent from the first to the eighth or however long he goes," Koch said. "That's impressive."
After Loseke got the final two outs in the eighth inning, he walked Foster on four pitches to open the ninth, drawing a mound visit from pitching coach Wes Johnson. It was a one-sided conversation with Johnson doing all of the talking.
"Yeah, Wes sent a message," Van Horn said. "Sometimes with Loseke, you just have to get under his skin a little bit. You have to fire him up, maybe to the point where he gets red-faced and he's a little upset. Some guys have to pitch that way."
Sports on 05/13/2018
NO. 6 ARKANSAS
VS. NO. 20 TEXAS A&M
WHEN Noon WHERE Baum Stadium, Fayetteville RECORDS Arkansas 35-15, 16-10 SEC;- Texas A&M 34-16, 12-14 SERIES Tied 41-41 STARTING PITCHERS Texas A&M: RHP Stephen Kolek (5-4, 3.78 ERA); Arkansas: RHP Isaiah Campbell (3-5, 4.76 ERA) RADIO Razorback Sports Network TELEVISION ESPN2 SHORT HOPS Arkansas closer Matt Cronin is expected to pitch in today’s game after recovering from mononucleosis. His last game was at Mississippi State on April 20. … The Razorbacks have tied a school record with 20 saves. They also had 20 in 2011. … Arkansas is 28-3 at Baum Stadium and is tied for its most regular-season victories at home since the facility opened in 1996. The Razorbacks also had 28 regular-season victories at Baum Stadium in 2012. … Arkansas right fielder Eric Cole is batting .368 (14 of 38) in nine games since taking over the leadoff spot.
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