Spoon providing grand production
Arkansas' Tyler Spoon follows through on an at-bat against Evansville on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Trent Daniel had a pretty good view of Arkansas’ game-winning hit Saturday.
Daniel, a reliever, was warming up in Arkansas’ bullpen when redshirt freshman Tyler Spoon hit a line drive, one-out grand slam over the left-field bullpen in the eighth inning to snap a 1-1 tie and propel the Razorbacks to a 5-2 victory at Baum Stadium.
“I got to see the moon rocket go right by me,” Daniel said.
The home run, Spoon’s second of the season, quickly left the park and cleared the seven rows of permanent seats just beyond the bullpen.
“You can’t hit a ball harder than that,” Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said.
Spoon’s big hit helped Arkansas (6-1) win its fourth consecutive game and overcome a lackluster offensive performance. Arkansas had just four hits and had stranded 12 runners going into the eighth inning.
“We left a lot of runners out there today, and for most of the game we couldn’t get that two-out hit,” Van Horn said. “It’s always concerning. We finally did get that big hit.”
Willie Schwanke led off Arkansas’ big inning with a single to center. Pinch runner Jordan Farris moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brett McAfee. Matt Vinson’s double to the left-field wall looked like it would drive in Farris, but he tripped rounding third and was forced to retreat to the base.
Arkansas (6-1) vs. Evansville (1-4)
WHEN: 1:05 p.m.
WHERE: Baum Stadium, Fayetteville
PITCHING MATCHUP: Evansville: RHP Kyle Loyd (0-0, 000); Arkansas: RHP Trey Killian (0-0, 0.00)
Jacob Morris loaded the bases when he was hit by a pitch before Spoon, the No. 3 hitter, connected on a 1-0 fastball from Evansville reliever Jake Naumann.
“With the bases loaded and one out, I was just trying to get one at least deep to the outfield,” said Spoon, who has a team-high 13 RBI this season. “I put a big swing on it and just tried to be aggressive in that situation.”
“That why we have him in that part of the order,” Van Horn said. “He continues to drive in runs for us.”
Arkansas stayed ahead for the first seven innings thanks to its pitching.
Arkansas starter Barrett Astin allowed 2 hits and 1 walk while striking out 5 in 6 scoreless innings. Cade Lynch worked an inning of scoreless relief in the seventh. Evansville (1-4) scored a run in the eighth off Jalen Beeks and another in the ninth off Colby Suggs, but Trent Daniel retired the two batters he faced to seal the victory. Beeks (1-0) earned the victory.
“Everyone saw how good he was today,” Spoon said of Astin. “He’s got lights-out stuff. It’s unfortunate he couldn’t get the win.”
Van Horn said Astin’s performance earned him another start this week in the Coca-Cola Classic at Surprise, Ariz., but it hasn’t been decided whether he’ll remain a starter or go to the bullpen.
“He may start all year. I don’t know yet,” Van Horn said. “It’s nice to have him in the bullpen as well.”
Arkansas took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after its first three batters walked to load the bases off starter Sam Johns. Eric Fisher, who finished 2 for 4, drove in Serrano with a single to right.
The Razorbacks stranded two runners in the first and fifth innings and three more in the third and seventh before breaking through with the four-run eighth. The Purple Aces tied the game with a run off two hits in the eighth and added another run in the ninth. Evansville managed five hits and struck out eight times.
“We weren’t getting many hits, but we were getting guys on base,” Spoon said. “Our pitchers kept us in the game until we were able to get the opportunity to score some runs.
“We stayed positive and it worked out for us.”
Sports, Pages 25 on 02/24/2013