Photographs by Andy Shupe
Arkansas pitcher Kacey Murphy throws during a game against South Carolina on Saturday, April 14, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Saturday, April 14, 2018
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas pitcher Kacey Murphy came within three outs of throwing the Razorbacks' first perfect game Saturday.
The consolation was a win in one of Arkansas' most critical games to this point in the season.
Murphy retired the first 18 batters he faced in the Razorbacks' 2-0 win over South Carolina in the first game of a seven-inning doubleheader at Baum Stadium. He lost his perfect game bid when the Gamecocks' leadoff hitter, Justin Row, singled to left field in the top of the seventh.
Matt Cronin replaced Murphy after the hit and retired all three batters he faced to record his eighth save. Cronin ended the game by getting South Carolina cleanup hitter Jonah Bride to flyout to left field.
Arkansas took a 1-0 lead on Carson Shaddy's solo home run to left-center field with one out in the second inning and extended the lead to 2-0 when Shaddy scored on a wild pitch in the sixth. The Razorbacks (26-10, 9-5) recorded four hits and stranded seven base runners.
Murphy, a junior left-hander from Rogers, needed 64 pitches to record his 18 outs. He came within two of the school record for consecutive batters retired, set twice, most recently by Richie Nye during a 1996 no-hitter against Iowa State.
Murphy struck out six, including the Gamecocks' two and three hitters, Carlos Cortes and Madison Stokes, on 3-2 pitches in the first inning. He also relied on a number of notable defensive plays behind him.
Arkansas left fielder Heston Kjerstad went to the ground to make a catch on Jonah Bride's leadoff drive to left field in the second inning.
In the third inning, Arkansas shortstop Jax Biggers fielded a Jacob Olson grounder to his left, but made a strong throw to first baseman Jordan McFarland on the bounce for the second out. In the fifth inning, third baseman Casey Martin fielded a roller by Bride and made an off-balanced throw to first.
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