BATON ROUGE, La. — With dark circles under his eyes from a lack of sleep, Devin Collis pitched on fumes to lead Arkansas to a 4-2 win against LSU in front of 2,304 in Alex Box Stadium on Saturday.
Collis went from goat to glory in less than 24 hours. He threw the belt-high fastball that Michael Hollander clubbed for a walk-off, ninth inning homer in Friday’s 7-6 loss to the Tigers.
Replaying the scene over and over in his mind, the senior from St. Charles, Mo., tossed and turned during the night and estimated that he got about four or five hours of sleep overnight.
“I’ve been tired all day,” said Collis, a bag of ice packed on his left shoulder after the game. “Friday’s loss was really tough. At breakfast, I just kind of sat there and ate by myself, still beating myself up over it.
“I just kept thinking about it. I was trying to let it soak in and put it behind me, but it’s tough to get over something like that.”
Evidently, the best remedy is to pitch and win the following day as his performance helped the No. 11 Razorbacks (31-13, 11-9 in Southeastern Conference play) even the series heading into the finale against LSU (28-17, 7-13) at 1 p.m. today.
Collis (6-1) entered in relief with no outs and a runner on first in the eighth inning. He got a sacrifice bunt for the first out and then walked Jordan Mayer on four straight pitches, prompting a visit to the mound by Hogs pitching coach Dave Jorn.
“I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page,” Jorn said. “We didn’t want to make any mistakes to that guy (Will Harris, who has five homers) and it worked out.”
After the talk, Collis didn’t get behind another batter the rest of the way. He got Harris and Jarred Bogany to pop out to right to end the eighth and then sandwiched a walk and a single around two groundouts and a strikeout to shut down LSU in the ninth.
At no point during his outing was there any action in the Razorbacks’ bullpen. They were living, or dying, with Collis.
“What (Collis) did was he made some pitches when he needed to,” said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. “(Friday) night, the pitch was called away and the ball was way inside and (Hollander) clubbed it.
“But he didn’t make any mistakes (Saturday).”
Arkansas’ offense put Collis in line for the win by scoring three runs in its final two at-bats to erase a 2-1 deficit. And even though the Hogs trailed the majority of the game, Van Horn sensed they were going to pull out the victory.
“I thought we deserved to win,” Van Horn said. “Our pitchers did a great job out of the pen. I just felt like we were going to get a big hit. We deserved one.”
That big hit came off the bat of Craig Gentry, who was in the starting lineup for the first time in four games after suffering from a knee infection. With two outs and speedy pinch runner Stephen Robison on second in the top of the ninth, Gentry smashed a hanging slider off the wall in left-center field.
Bogany, the LSU center fielder, thought he had a bead on the ball off the bat. But 30 mph winds blowing out to left lifted the ball out of his reach.
“I thought I had a chance to catch it at first,” Bogany said. “But that wind just blew it right past me.”
Gentry was surprised to see the ball bounce off the wall as he began to round first base.
“I wasn’t really sure because it was probably one of the deepest parts of the ball park,” said Gentry, whose knee still isn’t 100 percent healed. “To be honest with you, I thought it was either going to be a home run or he’s going to catch it.
“So I guess I was wrong, but in a good way.”
Jake Dugger roped a one-out double off the right field wall to get the offense started in the eighth. After Danny Hamblin, who evened the score at 1-all with a solo homer to left in the fourth, was intentionally walked, David Hum lined a single to right center to tie the score at 2-all.
A full-count walk by Brian Walker put the go-ahead run on the board in the ninth. That’s when Robison entered as a pinch runner and stole second to set up Gentry’s hit. Dugger then added an insurance run when he drove in Gentry with a single down the right-field line.
“I thought (Gentry’s hit) was going to be out of the park,” Van Horn said. “I was happy that we took the lead, but at the same time, I was disappointed that we didn’t have a two-run lead. But Jake came up there and worked the count a little bit and got a good pitch to hit a line drive.
“Two runs is a big difference than one because you can relax a little bit.”
Arkansas starter Trey Holloway lasted only a 1/3 of an inning after walking two and giving up two hits in the first. His bases-loaded walk to Matt Liuzza accounted for LSU’s only run in the inning as Daryl Maday came on in relief.
Maday, making his second appearance in as many days, needed only two pitches to get a ground-ball double play to end the first. After walking the leadoff batter in the second, Maday retired the next nine in order, including striking out the side in the second inning.
Maday then was hit with a line drive off the bat of Bogany to lead off the fifth. The ball, after deflecting off Maday’s leg, was scooped up by Blake Parker at third base. But Parker chucked it into LSU’s dugout which allowed Bogany to advance to second base.
Two outs later, Bruce Sprowl sliced an RBI single over shortstop Matt Willard’s head to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead. Maday then walked Quinn Stewart before being relieved by Chris Rhoads, who struck out clean-up hitter J.T. Wise looking at a full-count breaking ball to escape the threat.