During his Saturday post-game press conference after his team’s 9-6 win over Alabama, Arkansas 20-year head baseball coach Dave Van Horn passed along some words of wisdom.

“An emotional game, a big game for us,” Van Horn said. “As you could tell, it had to be a big game for them as well. 

“It was Saturday in the SEC. It can get a little crazy.”

Indeed it did in a game in which Alabama head coach Brad Bohannon got ejected in the seventh and offered up a mock Hog Call on his way out.

That bit of theatrics was followed on the next pitch by Tavian Josenberger’s two-run double that game his team a 6-5 lead after once being down 4-0.

Josenberger, who was 3 of 4 at the plate with two doubles, two runs and two RBIs and also took a three-run homer away in the center, knew his moment was big.

“Right when he got ejected, I knew the momentum just flipped on our side,” Josenberger said.  “I knew right after that, that I was going to have a big swing in a big moment. Got a pitch to hit and put a pretty good swing on it.”

Still after Alabama star Drew Williamson’s RBI single tied it in the eighth inning, Arkansas needed Jace Bohrofen’s solo shot and Caleb Cali’s two-run blast off Kade Woods in the eighth to get out with the win.

Cali admitted Bohannon’s mocking of the Hog call got the Razorback players fired up as well as the fans.

“Yeah, I mean we were all right on top of the rail when he was going through that AB, especially right after he got ejected. Once he got that hit, we erupted. It was one of the craziest parts of the games and it was awesome.”

If Arkansas (22-5, 5-3) can win Sunday, it will move into a SEC Western Division first-place tie with LSU, who lost to visiting Tennessee  14-6 on Saturday as the Vols avoided being swept in Baton Rouge.

Razorback reliever Hagen Smith (5-0) got the win on the mound after entering in the seventh.

He could have been a potential starter on Sunday, but Van Horn felt the need for him on Saturday against Alabama (21-7, 3-5).

“I said that before conference play started, that’s what we’re going to do,” Van Horn said. “We’re just going to worry about the game today and try to win it, and that’s why I don’t know who we’re going to throw yet tomorrow. We’ll just figure it out in the morning.”

Smith allowed 2 runs on 5 hits, walking one and fanning three in his 3 innings of work

“I thought he had good stuff,” Van Horn said.  I mean, he had really good command of his breaking pitch, and the fastball was good too…I like the confidence he has on the mound. He thinks he can get anybody out with any pitch, so I’m good with it.”

Smith followed starter Will McEntire 4 runs on 7 hits in 4 innings), Dylan Carter (3 hits in 3 scoreless innings) and Cody Adcock – who got his only battle out-  to the mound.

Carter’s job was critical to let his team get back into the game per Van Horn, whose team extended its streak with a home run to 23 contests.

“I think he (Carter) got us seven outs,” Van Horn said. “We needed those outs. We needed to get to into the game a little bit and let our hitters relax a little bit.

The Razorbacks were desperate to win after a 12-2 thrashing Friday night at the hands of the 22-hit Crimson Tide, who hit four home runs and  22 hits, the most by a Van Horn opponent in his 20 years at the helm.

“Obviously it was a great win for our team,” Van Horn said. “I imagine if you’re a fan it was a super exciting game to watch. A lot of back and forth, especially when we caught them.

“…We showed a lot of toughness and grit. I love it.”

Bohannon lamented letting things get away late.

“We did a lot of good things,” Bohannon said. “You know we out-hit them 15-9 and put together a lot of really good at bats.

“(Alabama starting pitcher) Luke Holman gave us a really good start, but we are still just making too many mistakes to have an older team at this point in the year.

“Especially against a club like Arkansas, a top five team in the country, at their place. You have to play your A-minus or your A game to win here.

“They did a good job of taking advantage of our mistakes late,” Bohannon said. 

He was impressed with Josenberger’s catch.

“Joseneberger made an amazing play,” Bohannon said. “That was a huge swing. That’s a difference between the inning ending and coming in to bat with some momentum versus being down another three runs.

“It was an amazing play and great players make great plays and that’s what he did,” Bohannon said. 

Alabama will start Grayson Hitt on the mound in Sunday’s 2 p.m. game.

“Grayson Hitt is going to start and I think it is a really good match up for him against their left handed hitters,” Bohannon said. “It would be great if he could give us a good start.

“I like what we have in the bullpen in Garrett McMillan, Cayen Rose, Braylon Myers, Ryan Guardino and the guys who pitched on Friday are all available.

“So I am sure it will be another back and forth, tight game and we need to play a little cleaner snd make some plays late.”

Photo by John D. James