NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE
Reliever Jackson Lowery of Arkansas celebrates after getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning against Missouri State Saturday, June 6, 2015, in the Super Regional at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
The University of Arkansas baseball team has its share of stars. Sophomore outfielder Andrew Benintendi has won different national player of the year honors, junior outfielder Tyler Spoon is a four-year starter and a standout power hitter, Keaton McKinney was a freshman All-American pitcher, and All-SEC closer Zach Jackson has endeared Hogs fans by pitching more than three innings in a Super Regionals clinching game against Missouri State University Sunday, June 7.
However, the team is also loaded with a talented supporting class that has helped the Hogs dig out from a 1-5 start in the SEC to one of the more dangerous teams in the College World Series field. Senior relief pitcher Jackson Lowery, a Pulaski Academy alumnus, is one of those role players who has stood out. Lowery has notched a 7-1 record, mostly coming out of the bullpen, but in just the third start of his career, he led the Hogs to a 4-3 win against St. Johns Univeristy to clinch … Read more >
On a cold night in 2002 I had a great chat with Ernie Banks and an encounter with Sammy Sosa.
It was a frigid, late mid-April evening in Chicago in 2002. As I hopped off the L train on the Northside, my heart leaped. A Cubs fan since elementary school, I was beyond excited to finally visit Wrigley Field.
However, I was also on a mission. I was a sports writer for the Pine Bluff Commercial, and as a condition of my five days of working vacation, I was asked by my editor to write a column.
The Cubs granted me field access with the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field, and my plan was to write about the showdown between sluggers Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa.
I wasn’t naive enough to think I could get an interview with either superstar, so as I walked down the concrete steps onto the freshly manicured grass behind home plate, I tried to find a neutral party that would have a good take on both superstars.
My eye caught Joe Carter behind the cage watching the end of batting practice. Carter, a one-time Cubs player and hero for the Toronto … Read more >
Former University of Arkansas pitcher Dallas Keuchel handled a heckler in a fun way last week according to a Bleacher Report story.
An Oakland A’s fan harassed Keuchel, a Houston Astros hurler, this week. Instead of an angry response, Keuchel followed a trend among Major League players this season, and tossed the fan a ball with this inscription. “Thanks for helping pay my salary for today.” There was a heart and the #60, Keurchel’s jersey number but no autograph.
A humorous way to jab back to a loudmouth without creating a scene.
Ironically, Keuchel didn’t pitch that night. The Tulsa, Oklahoma native is having the best season of his career with a 9-6 record and 3.29 ERA for the Astros, who are 42-60 and in second-to-last place in the American League West.… Read more >
On June 6, 2004 I was sick. I had an awful, nasty stomach bug. Dry heaving, the whole nine yards. I could barely raise my head off the pillow.
I should have been in bed, trying to sleep. Instead, I was lying on the couch with the stereo on. The rich tone of Chuck Barrett’s voice coming through the speakers. There was some tension in his voice as Brady Toops stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning of this NCAA Regional game. Arkansas trailed 9-7 with the bases loaded and two outs. The Hogs were on the brink of elimination.
However, that is when Toops hit the shot heard round Razorback Nation and put Arkansas up 11-9. Barrett was cautiously optimistic as the ball flew off Toops’ bat. Barrett told us the ball was well-hit, but was it going to clear the wall or be a long fly out. He finally erupted when it trickled over the wall. “That ball is gone. That is a grand slam home run. Brady Toops just hit a grand slam home run, and the Razorbacks have taken the lead,” Barrett shouted.
At 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dickey-Stephens Park looked more big top than ballpark. Performers in sparkly costumes twirling high above the home plate on silks. A performer painted silver, twirling fire and two others on stilts walking around the concourse. Welcome to the 78th Texas League All-Star Game.
Fans started arriving at the ballpark at 3 p.m to watch batting practice and partake in an autograph session with both squads. The Travs front office did everything they could to keep fans entrained for 5.5 hours. Mission accomplished.
The circus performers were just part of the act. There was the Home Run Derby, a mechanical bull and hot air balloon rides and a lengthy postgame fireworks show. And by the way, there was a baseball game, which was well-played and full of spectacular plays.
Midland’s Ryan Rua won the home run derby with 16 homers. The unique part of the event was the addition of former MLB sluggers Ryan Klesko and Rick Ankiel as team captains. Klesko barely swung a couple of times and blasted bombs.
While the pitchers’ duel didn’t produce much fireworks at the plate, Springfield catcher Cody Stanley’s two-run homer in the fourth inning gave the South squad a … Read more >