It’s unusual to see an injured player stay in the game the way Arkansas catcher Blake Baxendale did yesterday, and some Ole Miss fan let Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn know about it.
Baxendale went to the ground behind first base after a ground ball out in the sixth. He was seen by medical staff but remained in the game at catcher and was noticeably hurt when he limped toward first after a strikeout-wild pitch that scored an Arkansas run in the eighth.
Arkansas had 16 hits, and Baxendale went 2-for-5 with two RBIs. He was finally replaced by Jackson Lowery who caught the bottom of the ninth.
The Hogs lost their starting catcher, Jake Wise to an injury in Friday’s Game 1. Wise actually started the Saturday game but was replaced by Baxendale early on.
Van Horn said he had several players who had caught at previous levels of baseball but none that he was eager to put into the game before finally settling on Lowery in the bottom of the ninth when the Hogs led 11-1.
As Baxendale remained in the game, some Ole Miss fans began yelling at Van Horn telling him he was concerned only with winning and not the well-being of his players.
Baxendale’s limp was painfully obvious in his at-bats in the eighth and ninth innings, but he asked to stay in the game for his last at-bat – and delivered a two-run single off Hawtin Buchanan that made it 10-1.
Van Horn said after the game he though Baxendale had some sort of pull in his upper leg area. He offered to take Baxendale out of the game before that at-bat.
“I told him, ‘Hey, we can pull you out right here. We’ve got a good lead now. You’ve done all you need to do.’ He said, ‘Coach I want to hit. I’ve gone this far I want to get a hit.’
“I needed to let him hit because he gutted it up for us. I needed to let him stay in there. Sure enough he got a hit. I told him if you get a hit you’ve got to find a way to first base. He did, and we figured that was enough right there.”