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.
Offense heats up in win
Arkansas' Bobby Wernes leads off from first as Brandon Smith of Northwest State stands on the mound Tuesday, April 22, 2014, during the game at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas got strong two-out hitting and its bullpen extended an impressive scoreless streak in an 8-1 win over Northwestern State on Tuesday at Baum Stadium.
The No. 24 Razorbacks scored six of their runs with two outs, including three in the seventh inning to break the game open. Brian Anderson's single scored two runs and Blake Baxendale's double in the next at-bat scored another as Arkansas extended the lead to 6-1 in the seventh.
Baxendale finished the game 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs. The freshman designated hitter upped his average to .306 this season and improved to 11-for-25 with runners in scoring position.
Arkansas never trailed, scoring a pair of runs in the first inning and another in the second to build a 3-0 lead. Andrew Benintendi, who reached base four times, scored on an Anderson sacrifice fly and Baxendale followed with a single to score Joe Serrano in the first. Bobby Wernes scored on a fielding error with two outs in the second inning.
Northwestern State (22-18) did its only damage offensively in the fourth inning, recording four consecutive two-out hits to chase Arkansas starter Colin Poche. The Demons scored once, but Razorbacks reliever Jackson Lowery got leadoff hitter Edwin Gomez to pop up in foul ground to end the inning with the bases loaded.
The Razorbacks (26-16) didn't record any hits in the fourth, fifth or sixth innings, though the team did have a base runner in all but one of its plate appearances. Arkansas recorded 13 hits.
Lowery earned the win by throwing 3 1/3 innings of relief, striking out four batters while allowing no hits. Poche pitched 3 2/3 innings in the start, allowing one run on six hits.
Jacob Stone and Dominic Taccolini each threw one scoreless inning for the Razorbacks. Arkansas' bullpen hasn't allowed a run in its last 21 innings of relief.
The two teams are scheduled to play their midweek series finale Wednesday at 3:05 p.m. Freshman right-hander Alex Phillips is scheduled to start the game on the mound for Arkansas.