COLLEGE BASEBALL:

Arkansas hammers out 13 hits in win

By: RICK HARVEY SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE
Published: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Arkansas' Blake Baxendale gets a piece of the ball Tuesday, April 22, 2014, during the game against Northwest State at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Samantha Baker
Arkansas' Blake Baxendale gets a piece of the ball Tuesday, April 22, 2014, during the game against Northwest State at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE - Blake Baxendale was more than pleased to see his name in Arkansas’ lineup Tuesday.

“I was excited,” he said.

The redshirt freshman from Rogers responded from his worst outing of the season with one of his best, going 3 for 4 with 2 RBI as the Razorbacks beat Northwestern (La.) State 8-1 in front of an announced crowd of 2,758 at Baum Stadium.

Baxendale has been Arkansas’ designated hitter from the No. 5 spot in the order for the past six games and has increased his batting average to .306, but he went 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts in Sunday’s victory over Vanderbilt to snap his eight-game hitting streak.

“I wasn’t sure if I’d be in the lineup or not [Tuesday],” said Baxendale, who has started 18 games and played in 26 this season. “After the game on Sunday, I couldn’t wait to play again and redeem myself. I thought I did that tonight.”

Dave Van Horn - Northwestern State Post Game

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn recaps the Razorbacks' 8-1 win over Northwestern State Tuesday night at Baum Stadium. (By Andrew Hutchinson)
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Wednesday's Ticket

NORTHWESTERN (LA.) STATE AT ARKANSAS

WHEN 3:05 p.m.

WHERE Baum Stadium, Fayetteville

RECORDS Arkansas 26-16, Northwestern State 22-18

PITCHING MATCHUP Northwestern State: Devin Bear (LHP, 0-1, 16.20 ERA). Arkansas: Alex Phillips (RHP, 3-0, 2.25 ERA).

Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said Baxendale did a nice job of bouncing back.

“He took full advantage of being in the lineup,” Van Horn said. “He’s getting his batting average up there, and that’s good to see.”

Freshman Andrew Benintendi saw his average increase to .296 after a 3-for-4 night, while Blake Anderson and Bobby Wernes both went 2 for 3. Anderson had three RBI.

“Benintendi has been swinging the bat as good as he has since he’s been here,” Van Horn said. “That’s one of the reasons why we’ve been winning.”

Arkansas won thanks to another strong showing from its bullpen and an opportunistic offense that scored seven runs with two outs.

Arkansas (26-16) outhit Northwestern State 13-6. Anderson had two-run single in a three-run seventh inning - one of four consecutive two out hits - that gave Arkansas a five-run cushion. The Razorbacks set the final score in a two-run eighth inning, which included a two-run, two-out RBI single from Benintendi.

“We did a nice job offensively continuing to battle with two outs,” Van Horn said. “It’s a really good job continuing to swing the bat until the third out is made.”

Those runs helped support Arkansas’ bullpen, which threw six scoreless innings and increased its scoreless streak to 21 innings.

Jackson Lowery (1-1) earned the victory, working 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief with four strikeouts. Jacob Stone and Dominic Taccolini each threw a scoreless inning to close out the game.

Arkansas scored all the runs it needed in a two-run first inning. With one out, Benintendi doubled to right field and Joe Serrano singled. Anderson’s sacrifice fly scored Benintendi, and a two-out single to left by Baxendale brought home Serrano to give the Razorbacks a 2-0 lead.

“We go up to the plate with the same approach,” Baxendale said. “It doesn’t matter if there’s one out, two outs. With two outs our approach remains the same, and we have been pretty clutch lately.”

That lead grew to 3-0 in the second when Bobby Wernes led off with a single to right field, advanced to second on a single from Michael Bernal and scored with two outs on a Northwestern State error.

The Demons (22-18) got one run back in the fourth inning, but it could’ve been much worse. Northwestern State used consecutive two out singles from CJ Webster, Kelsey Richard, Joel Atkinson and Nick Heath off Arkansas starter Colin Poche but managed only one run after Lowery relieved Poche with the bases loaded and forced Edwin Gomez to fly out.

Sports, Pages 19 on 04/23/2014

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