FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas closer Colby Suggs got off to a slow start because of an oblique injury that affected him the first few weeks of the 2013 season.
But it hasn’t kept Suggs from earning a spot in Arkansas’ record books.
Suggs picked up his 12th save during Arkansas’ 4-1 win against LSU in the Southeastern Conference Tournament, equaling the school’s single-season record.
The hard-throwing right-hander tied the mark held by Phillip Stidham (1989) and Tim Deitz (1985). Suggs can move past both with a save during the Manhattan (Kan.) Regional. Arkansas (37-20) plays Bryant (44-16-1) at 7 p.m. tonight.
“It would mean a lot,” Suggs said. “Any time a closer can get a save, it means the team is winning. So obviously, I like going out there and closing out games and being the guy to finish them off. But as far as the saves record, it’s pretty cool.”
It didn’t look like Suggs was going to be within reach of the mark after struggling early on. He had trouble with his velocity the first few weeks of the season, which was a by-product of the injury. But Suggs also had command issues, walking a rash of batters and couldn’t close the door on opponents in pre-conference games.
He didn’t panic. Suggs eventually settled in when it mattered most, baffling opponents when Southeastern Conference play began.
Suggs led all SEC closers with 10 saves during conference play. He allowed one earned run in 13 appearances, recording 18 strikeouts with six walks.
Suggs didn’t waste any time in his last appearance, retiring all three batters he faced on 13 pitches to secure the win against LSU last Thursday.
“I’ve felt great,” Suggs said about his SEC success. “I feel like I’m improving every week with my location and my breaking ball. Obviously, velocity is there now as opposed to earlier in the season. I’m feeling great, getting stronger each and every day. So I’m really excited to see what we can do down the stretch.”
The Razorbacks are confident they know what will happen. Their success will continue if they can carry the lead into the ninth inning with Suggs on the mound.
“He started a little slow with his side problem, but he's gotten over that,” catcher Jake Wise said. “The stuff he has is hard to hit. I know guys are going up there, and they know what he has, and they still don't stand a chance. I'm excited every time he gets on the mound because I know we're going to get his best focus and best stuff.”
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau