Gunn stays calm as Hogs hang on

Published: Sunday, February 16, 2014
Arkansas second baseman Brian Anderson throws to first during game two of the series against Appalachian State on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014 at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas second baseman Brian Anderson throws to first during game two of the series against Appalachian State on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014 at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE - Michael Gunn made sure his one mistake was his last Saturday afternoon.

After giving up a bases-clearing triple on the second pitch he threw with two outs in the seventh inning, which allowed Appalachian State to pull within a run, the Arkansas reliever retired seven of the final eight batters in order as the Razorbacks held on for a 7-6 victory in front of 4,913 at Baum Stadium.

Arkansas (2-0) led 7-3 when Gunn, a junior left-hander, relieved Landon Simpson with two outs in the seventh. Dillon Dobson hit a two-run triple on the second pitch he saw from Gunn and ended up scoring on the play because of an Arkansas error to pull the Mountaineers within 7-6.

Gunn responded by forcing Ozzy Gonzalez to fly out to end the inning, the first of five consecutive batters he retired.

“I hung a curve ball [on Dobson’s triple],” said Gunn, who struck out two. “I then just tried to concentrate on the next pitch and then the next pitch. One pitch at a time.”

The Mountaineers (0-2) put one on with one out in the ninth, but Gunn struck out William Head on a 3-2 pitch and forced Jaylin Davis to ground out to end the game.

“Gunn didn’t panic,” Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. “He kept throwing strikes. [Appalachian State] is one pitch away from having two on with one out and the top of the order coming up, and Gunn did a great job of finishing the game for us.”

Arkansas won despite committing four errors and leaving 10 runners stranded.

The Razorbacks got their second consecutive good outing from an inexperienced starter. Junior right-hander Chris Oliver (1-0) threw 68 pitches in his third career start, giving up 1 earned run over 5 innings while allowing 1 hit and striking out 5.

Arkansas’ offense, which had 13 hits in Friday’s season-opening 12-2 victory, had 11 hits Saturday. Nine came from the No. 3-6 hitters in the lineup. Brian Anderson went 3 for 5, Tyler Spoon was 2 for 5, including a three-run home run in the fourth, and Eric Fisher and KJ Wilkerson each went 2 for 4.

“It was good to get a couple of hits and some RBIs today, and it’s always good to get aone-run win, especially after losing some like that last year,” Fisher said.

Fisher’s first RBI came in a two-run second inning when he hit a leadoff home run. Appalachian State tied the game in the third before Arkansas took the lead for good in the fourth when Spoon hit a three run home run following consecutive singles by Joe Serranoand Anderson to make it 6-2.

Landon Simpson relieved Oliver in the sixth, giving up 3 runs and 5 hits while striking out 2 before Gunn took over in the seventh.

“[Gunn] is good,” said Appalachian State Coach Billy Jones, whose entire squad was on hand for Saturday’s game after travel issues kept many players and staff members from arriving in Fayetteville until late Friday night. “He can command and was getting both sides of the plate. He learned from his one mistake.

“Arkansas is a good club, and when you play good teams mistakes are magnified.”

Freshman right-hander Alex Phillips gets the start for Arkansas in today’s series finale against Appalachian State junior left-hander Jeffrey


WHERE Baum Stadium, Fayetteville RECORDS Arkansas 2-0; Appalachian State 0-2 RADIO RSP statewide radio network. Not all games will be carried by affiliates.

Check local listings.

INTERNET and ESPN3 PITCHING MATCHUP Appalachian State: Jeffrey Springs (LHP, 3-4, 6.28 ERA);

Arkansas: Alex Phillips (RHP, freshman) SHORT HOPS Appalachian State had its entire team and staff intact about 10 p.m.

Friday night after the remaining players and support staff arrived in Fayetteville following weather delays. A partial team and staff made it to Northwest Arkansas in time for Friday’s series opener, with the remaining group catching a later flight out of Charlotte, N.C. … Brian Anderson is 6 for 10 and KJ Wilkerson is 5 for 9 through the first two games.

THE WEEK AHEAD TODAY vs. Appalachian State, 1:05 p.m.


SATURDAY vs. E. Illinois, 1:05 p.m SUNDAY vs. E. Illinois, 1:05 p.m.

Sports, Pages 21 on 02/16/2014