Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Biletnikoff Award.
Hogs win behind freshman pitchers
Trey Killian delivers a pitch during Arkansas' 10-2 win over Evansville on Feb. 24, 2012 at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas’ prized freshman pitchers continued their early success Sunday.
Trey Killian and Colin Poche combined to yield three hits in seven innings in Arkansas’ 10-2 victory over Evansville at Baum Stadium as the Razorbacks completed a three-game sweep of the Purple Aces.
Killian and Poche have yet to give up an earned run in 15 innings of work so far.
“Trey Killian did a good job of coming out and throwing a lot of strikes,” Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. “His fastball, he really commanded it well and got us through some really quick innings.
“I guess his first hit he gave up was on a breaking ball and the second hit he gave up was on a breaking ball. That’s what he has to work on. He has to get on top of that breaking ball a little bit and get more depth because it’s more side to-side right now. When he conquers that, he’s going to be awfully tough.”
Killian, a right-hander from Mountain Home, retired the first 12 batters he faced Sunday after retiring all nine in relief Friday. Killian pitched 4 2/3 innings Sunday, allowing 2 unearned runs on 2 hits while striking out 5 in his first collegiate start.
“In the bullpen there were nerves, but I think I got most of those out of the way with my first outing (last weekend),” Killian said. “I was just really excited to throw.
“I couldn’t ask for a better start.”
Arkansas (7-1), which has won five in a row since losing to Western Illinois last Sunday, led the Purple Aces 3-0 entering the fifth inning before Killian ran into trouble. He gave up two runs in the fifth, but was picked up by Poche, who retired Michael Eckstein to strand the tying run.
Poche, a left-hander who pitched five scoreless innings in a victory over New Orleans on Tuesday, hasn’t allowed a run in 7 1/3 innings this season.
“He’s not used to coming out of the bullpen, but I thought he threw better in the second inning,” Van Horn said of Poche, who was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the fifth round last summer. “His velocity was better in the second inning. He came in and threw a couple of balls, but he got it back together and got us in the dugout. It’s good to get some guys experience and get them ready for later down the road.
“True freshmen pitching, no matter what team they’re pitching against, they’re pitching against older guys that have experience and can swing the bat a little bit. ... We had a couple of wild stints, but other than that, we did a pretty nice job of moving the ball around, pitching backward and getting ahead of hitters. I’m happy where those guys are at right now.”
The Razorbacks made it 4-2 in the sixth when Jacob Mahan hit his first collegiate home run.
“He crushed it,” said outfielder Matt Vinson, who had a team-high three hits. “That was into the wind, but it was a laser. He hits them out in batting practice every now and then, but he’s not a guy I’d pick for a home run derby. That was good.”
Arkansas added five more runs in the seventh and another in the eighth, finishing with a season-high 15 hits one day after leaving 12 runners stranded.
“That was a good pitching staff,” Vinson said. “Just because they’re not a big name doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot of arms on that team. We came out today and we put it on them pretty good. It was important for us to take that momentum into Arizona.”
The Razorbacks take their first road trip this week when they travel to Surprise, Ariz., for the four-day Coca-Cola Classic. They open play Thursday against Arizona State.
Sports, Pages 13 on 02/25/2013