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Razorbacks hold Huskers in check

By: RICK HARVEY SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE
Published: Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Arkansas center fielder Tyler Spoon heads to first after hitting a game-tying 2-run double during the third inning against Nebraska Tuesday, April 1, 2014, at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas center fielder Tyler Spoon heads to first after hitting a game-tying 2-run double during the third inning against Nebraska Tuesday, April 1, 2014, at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE - A little wildness didn’t stop Arkansas from shutting down a potent Nebraska offense Tuesday night.

The Razorbacks tied a season high by walking eight batters but put together big pitches and key defensive plays at the right time to help hold Nebraska’s powerful lineup to two hits in a 4-3 victory in front of an announced crowd of 2,922 at Baum Stadium.

The Cornhuskers (15-13), who entered with a team batting average .311 with at least eight hits in their past 13 games and at least one double in 16 of their past 17 games, were limited to a pair of second-inning singles. Only one left the infield.

“We had two ground-ball hits and probably 74 fly balls that were weak fly balls,” Nebraska Coach Darin Erstad said. “We had multiple 2-0, 3-1 counts where we had weak contact, and that just can’t happen.”

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The Razorbacks (18-10) managed all the offense they needed in one at-bat.

Arkansas trailed 2-0 through two innings but took the lead for good with a four run, four-hit third inning.

Andrew Benintendi and Joe Serrano singled, and Brian Anderson followed with an infield bunt single. Tyler Spoon doubled down the left-field line to drive in Benintendi and Serrano and tie the game 2-2. KJ Wilkerson and Eric Fisher hit consecutive sacrifice flies to right field, scoring Anderson and Spoon to make it 4-2.

Dave Van Horn - Nebraska Postgame

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn recaps the Razorbacks' 4-3 win over Nebraska Tuesday night at Baum Stadium. (By Andrew Hutchinson)
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Wednesday's Ticket

NEBRASKA AT ARKANSAS WHEN 1:35 p.m.

WHERE Baum Stadium, Fayetteville

RECORDS Nebraska 15-13; Arkansas 18-10

PITCHING MATCHUP Nebraska: Kyle Kubat (LHP, 1-1, 4.91). Arkansas: Alex Phillips (RHP, 2-0, 1.29).

SHORT HOPS Arkansas is 14-3 at Baum Stadium this season and have won five consecutive games there. … The Razorbacks have outscored nonconference opponents 95-31 at Baum Stadium. … Arkansas gymnast Katherine Grable, the SEC’s gymnast of the year, threw out the first pitch prior to Tuesday’s game.

“We made contact,” Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. “We got our share of hits, and we put together a great inning and that was really good to see.”

Nebraska pulled to within 4-3 in the fifth. Austin Darby reached on the first of three walks in the inning and scored on an RBI ground out by Michael Pritchard. Pat Kelly walked before Jackson struck out Tanner Lubach on a 3-2 count to end the threat.

“We held them down a little bit, and the pitchers did a good job,” Van Horn said. “We walked people, and we normally don’t walk people. … That was a little disappointing.

“I feel very fortunate to win the game when you walk that many people. In this modern day with these bats and ball the way they are, if you walk [eight] you’re going to get beat nine out of 10 times. It was just a good job by our pitchers pitching out of jams.”

Erstad said his team did a good job of working the count but failed to take advantage of the walks.

“We knew going in that their starter had some control problems at times,” he said. “I thought we laid off some breaking balls that were down, but when you play a quality team you can’t stub your toe. You have to get bunts down, you have to take dirt ball reads. You have to do the little things to win those type of games, and when you don’t you lose by one.

“I didn’t feel like we put our best swings on hitter’s count pitches. I understand Arkansas’ pitching staff is very talented, but we were in some counts where I thought we could put better swings on balls and we didn’t do that.”

Colin Poche (3-0) earned the victory in 4 1/3 innings work. He allowed 3 runs, 2 earned, and 2 hits while walking 5 and striking out 2. Zach Jackson relieved him in the fourth and struck out 3 in 2 2/3 innings before Michael Gunn closed out the game for his fifth save.

Jake Hohensee (0-3) took the loss.

Nebraska took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on two hits and an Arkansas error. Lubach reached on an infield single and Ryan Boldt walked. An out later, Steven Reveles singled to left-center field, scoring Lubach and giving the Cornhuskers a 1-0 lead. Serrano misplayed the ball on the play, which allowed Boldt to score for the inning’s second run.

Sports, Pages 21 on 04/02/2014

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