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.
4 in 2nd enough for Hogs
Arkansas shortstop Michael Bernal hit a two-run home run during Tuesday's 4-1 win at Missouri State.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Arkansas scored all of its runs in one inning against Missouri State on Tuesday, but the big second-inning outburst was enough to carry the Razorbacks to a 4-1 victory at Hammons Field.
The Razorbacks (29-18) batted around in the second inning off left-hander Andy Cheray (1-1), with Michael Bernal supplying the key hit, a two-run home run to left field. Jake Wise had a sacrifice fly and Andrew Benintendi an RBI single as Arkansas took advantage of five hits and a pair of walks.
“It was a great inning,” Coach Dave Van Horn said. “We kind of got them on the ropes, and we just kept hitting the ball hard and took a couple of walks and punched in four and it was enough, fortunately.”
Missouri State (19-21) had five hits and struck out nine times against six Arkansas pitchers.
ARKANSAS AT OLE MISS
WHEN 6:30 p.m. Central Friday
WHERE Swayze Field, Oxford, Miss.
RECORDS Arkansas 29-18, 10-11 SEC; Ole Miss 33-12, 13-8
RADIO RSP statewide radio network. Not all games will be carried by affiliates. Check local listings.
PITCHING MATCHUP Arkansas: Trey Killian (RHP, 2-7, 2.30 ERA); Ole Miss: Chris Ellis (RHP, 6-0, 1.81).
Arkansas put together a pitching plan that involved having Colin Poche throw the first two innings, followed by two innings each from Jackson Lowery and Dominic Taccolini, then one inning from Jacob Stone, Zach Jackson and Michael Gunn.
“I thought our pitching staff did a great job,” Van Horn said. “We were fortunate we got the lead and the pitchers kind of held them down.”
Taccolini (2-0) didn’t allow a hit, struck out two and picked up the victory, while Gunn pitched a perfect ninth to notch his seventh save.
Blake Baxendale hit a single up the middle to open the second, followed by Eric Fisher’s double to the wall in right-center field. Wise’s sacrifice fly brought home Baxendale. Then Bernal, who moved up from the nine hole to the eighth spot for the game, ripped an 0-2 high-and-tight fastball to the wall in left, where the ball appeared to tip off Matt Dezort’s glove, bounce off the top of the wall and into the Bears’ bullpen.
Bernal said he thought he hit the ball well enough for it to get out of the ballpark easily.
“So I was like, I hit it well enough to be out, plus the wind, it’s got to be out,” Bernal said. “I get around first and I see it bounce over or whatever and I kind of freaked out.”
The Razorbacks weren’t done, as Bobby Wernes drew a walk and moved to third on Tyler Spoon’s single. Benintendi made it 4-0 with a single to right field, but the Bears got an out at third as Spoon slid past the base. Joe Serrano walked, and the inning ended on Brian Anderson’s liner to center.
“We just put great at-bats together and kept it going,” Spoon said. “That was just a great inning. Sometimes it takes just one inning to win a game, and fortunately it was for us in the second.”
Missouri State put together a quick rally off Jackson Lowery to score its lone run in the third. Eric Cheray hit a two-out double and came home on Patrick Drake’s single to center field.
Poche walked four in his stint and escaped a bases-loaded one-out jam in the second by getting Dylan Becker to hit a dribbler to the catcher Wise for a force out at home, then inducing a pop-up from leadoff man Alex Jefferson.
“We left seven runners on the first three innings and that kind of told the tale,” Missouri State Coach Keith Guttin said. “They have a good bullpen. We had opportunities, just didn’t get a big hit at all.”
Anderson went 2 for 5 and has a hit in 21 of the past 23 games, while Baxendale extended his hitting streak to six games.
Bears left-hander Matt Hall, who had been a conference starter before a recent bad stretch got him pulled from the rotation, threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just 2 hits and 3 walks and striking out 5.
“He was just crafty,” Spoon said. “He didn’t leave a lot of balls over the plate, like right over the middle to where you could hammer it. He just mixed up all his pitches.”
Right-hander Zach Jackson worked out of trouble in the eighth after the Bears pieced together a one-out wind-blown single that fell on the infield and walk by striking out Trey Massenberg and Joey Hawkins.
“We thought he needs to get through this situation because it’s the kind of situation he’s going to run into in league games or tournament games,” Van Horn said. “It was good to see him get through it.”
The Razorbacks return to action at 6:30 p.m. Central Friday at No. 10 Ole Miss.
SUN BELT CONFERENCE
UALR 10, GRAMBLING ST. 7
UALR (19-24) topped Grambling State (13-28) Tuesday evening at Gary Hogan Field in Little Rock in a game in which the teams combined for 25 hits.
UALR scored a combined seven runs over the fifth and sixth innings to break a 3-3 tie and pull away for the victory.
Bryson Thionnet and Tanner Rockwell had three hits each to lead UALR’s offense. Drew McCurry and Petr Sila added two hits apiece, while Thionnet and McCurry drove in three runs each.
The Trojans broke open a tie game with a pair of home runs by Rockwell and Thionnet to build a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. Sila added the Trojans’ third home run of the game in the bottom of the sixth to give UALR a three-run cushion.
The Trojans went on to score four more runs in the sixth inning thanks in part to hits by Rockwell and Thionnet to take a 10-3 lead into the seventh.
Jake Busiek picked up his first victory, 1run on 3 hits over 2 1/3 innings.
ARKANSAS STATE 7, MURRAY STATE 5
Austin Baker doubled twice and drove in three runs to lead Arkansas State (26-19) to a victory over Murray State (18-24) at Tomlinson Stadium in Jonesboro.
The Red Wolves scored all their runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings and roughed up the Thoroughbreds for eight hits, including a pair of three-run innings.
Baker, who has 8 RBI, 7 hits and 18 total bases in 2 games against Murray State, went 2 for 3 with three RBI and doubled home ASU’s first run of the game in the fourth inning. Ty Michelotti added a two-run single later in the inning for one of his two hits, scoring Baker and Matt Burgess to pull the Red Wolves within two runs.
Baker tied in the fifth inning with another two-run double that drove in Zach Maggio and Eric Wilcoxson, and Burgess followed with an RBI single to give the Red Wolves a 6-5 lead. The Red Wolves added a run on a single by Michelotti, who went 2 for 4 with 3 RBI.
The Red Wolves had 10 hits overall, including seven singles.
Sports, Pages 21 on 04/30/2014