Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
Hogs come out swinging this time
Arkansas' Tyler Spoon rounds the bases after hitting a home run during the game against UNLV in Baum Stadium in Fayetteville on Wednesday April 9, 2014. Arkansas won 9-2.
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas faced a starter with a hefty earned run average Wednesday, and they wasted little time jumping on UNLV’s Cody Roper in a 9-2 romp at Baum Stadium.
The Razorbacks scored one run in the first inning on Brian Anderson’s sacrifice fly, then Tyler Spoon hit a three run home run in the second as Arkansas built a huge lead and chased Roper after scoring in all four of his innings.
ARKANSAS AT LSU
WHEN 6:35 p.m. Central Friday
WHERE Alex Box Stadium, Baton Rouge
RECORDS Arkansas 21-13, 6-6 SEC; LSU 25-8-1, 6-5-1
RANKINGS LSU is ranked No. 16 by Baseball America. Arkansas is ranked No. 24 by Perfect Game.
TV Cox Sports Television
Arkansas (21-13) split the midweek series in advance of its three-game SEC series at LSU that begins Friday.
“Just a good bounce-back win for us,” Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. “Everything went just the way we wanted.”
The Rebels (23-10), who racked up nine hits in their 10-7 victory Tuesday, managed only one against freshman right-hander Alex Phillips (3-0) and four in the game.
“Fastball command was a big, big difference,” Phillips said. “I was really locating it down low tonight and keeping the hitters off balance with a curve ball that I was getting over for strikes.”
UNLV Coach Tim Chambers said he was happy with his team’s 6-3 road trip, but not with its lack of production against Phillips.
“He was good,” Chambers said. “When he got his curve ball over, he was real good. I won’t make excuses.
“They had their issues last night with some guys being sick and they didn’t make excuses. We won’t make excuses that we were on the road. He beat us tonight. We weren’t able to get to him.”
Phillips carried a no-hitter into the fifth before UNLV left fielder Joey Swanner lashed a hard single through the box with two outs. Phillips gave up just that hit through six innings, tying a career best, on 82 pitches.
Roper (1-1), who entered the game with a 7.88 ERA, gave up 8 hits and 7 earned runs in 4 innings.
Spoon, who was hit by a pitch and scored in the first, smacked the first pitch he saw from Roper in the second inning over the left-field wall to drive in Jake Wise and Michael Bernal, whose first pitch single had just driven in Clark Eagan for Arkansas’ second run.
“He was throwing a lot of fastballs and he was getting it up in the zone a little bit, belt high, sometimes a little bit higher,” Van Horn said.
“I just got a fastball right down the middle,” Spoon said.
Eagan tripled to straightaway center field on a misplayed ball by UNLV’s Joey Armstrong to open the third inning and scored on Wise’s squeeze bunt to the pitcher to make it 5-0. Andrew Benintendi singled and scored on Roper’s wild pitch as Arkansas moved ahead 6-0 in the fourth.
UNLV third baseman T.J. White connected for a home run off Jacob Stone as part of the Rebels’ two-run seventh inning for the first earned run allowed by Stone.
Benintendi got the two runs back in the bottom of the seventh with his two-run double inside the first-base bag that drove in Wise and Bernal, who had both singled.
Benintendi, Joe Serrano, Eagan, Wise and Bernal all had two hits as part of Arkansas’ 12-hit night.
Catcher Blake Baxendale, whose left hand was badly bruised by a bat on a catcher’s interference Tuesday, was unavailable for the Razorbacks, but Van Horn said he would probably be ready to play by Saturday in Baton Rouge.
Sports, Pages 23 on 04/10/2014