Despite the best efforts of Razorback newcomer Ben McLaughlin, there will be a third and deciding game in the Arkansas Baseball Fall World Series.

McLaughlin, a Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College transfer corner infielder, launched his third homer in two days in his Cardinal  squad’s 2-1 loss to the White Tuesday afternoon at Baum-Walker Stadium.

“I’m just really excited to be here,” McLaughlin said. “Obviously a tough loss today, but the ball is looking a little bigger and I am just trying to take my best swings it’s showing.” 

McLaughlin  had a pair of blasts on Monday with a two-run shot and a solo round-tripper in the Cardinal’s 6-5 victory.

He knew at least two of the three were headed over the fence off the bat.

“The second one, maybe not, but today’s for sure and the first one,” McLaughlin said. “They all felt great.”

The third and deciding game will be played on Thursday at a time to be announced.

“I think it is just playing clean baseball, limit the walks and the bats need to show up some more,” McLaughlin said of keys to victory.

McLaughlin, who played  summer baseball near Denver in his hometown of Golden, Colo., chose Arkansas over Oklahoma, USC, California, Wichita State and others.

McLaughlin hit .411 (88 of 214) with 19 home runs and 83 RBIs (seventh among NJCAA players) this past season with 23 doubles, a .511 on-base percentage, seven steals and team highs of 34 walks and 13 hit-by-pitches.

He had hitting streaks of 16 and 13 games during the season, 12 contests in which he had three or more hits and nine RBIs in one game.

McLaughlin has been at  first base and designated hitter for the Razorbacks this fall after being both a first baseman and third baseman at Hutchinson.

“The atmosphere is great and just competing,” McLaughlin said. “You look to your left or your right and every single guy here is unbelieveable. 

“Just playing each other now with the scoreboard on is really fun and the competition is at an all-time high.

The White won despite having only two hits, both off the bat of freshman center fielder Mason Neville.

Neville, who hit a grand slam in Monday’s game, led off the bottom of the first Tuesday with a single off Cardinal starting pitcher Koty Frank and stole second. 

Peyton Stovall moved him to third on  a fielder’s choice and Neville scored on Jace Bohrofen’s sacrifice fly.

The lead grew to 2-0 in the fourth when Creighton transfer Jared Wegner walked with two outs, stole second and eventually scored on a wild pitch.

McLaughlin, who is 3 of 5 with four RBIs so far in the series, cut that deficit in half with a fourth inning blast off  White relief pitcher Matthew Magre.

It was one of only four hits on the day for the Cardinal, who also got singles from Kendall Diggs, Caleb Cali and Hunter Grimes.

White starter and winner Ben Bybee went the first three innings, pitching scoreless baseball while allowing two hits, fanning four and walking one.

Sean Fitchpatrick and Jake Flaherty  both pitched a scoreless inning for the White with Faherty using a 98 mile per hour fast ball to fan three and get the save.

Frank pitched three innings for the Cardinal, allowing two runs (one earned) on one hit, fanning three and walking four.

Jordan Husky relieved Frank and pitched three scoreless frames with a hits, a walk and three strikeouts.

McLaughlin has been impressed the hurlers on his new team.

“For me, I would have to go with (Brady Tygart, (Jackson) Wiggins and Hagen Smith – they are all unbelievable,” McLaughlin said of the toughest  Razorback pitchers. 

““But every single kid here has something that makes them great and you can’t take an at bat off because they will get you for sure.”

Photo by John D. James