Matt Jones has been the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2010. He is also a feature writer for Hawgs Illustrated magazine and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in documentary film.
Rally in the 8th saves Arkansas
Arkansas shortstop Michael Bernal throws to first after fielding a ground ball during the game against Eastern Illinois at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas scored five runs with two outs in the eighth inning and rallied to beat Eastern Illinois 8-3 Saturday at Baum Stadium.
Michael Bernal's two-out triple scored Jake Wise to break a 3-3 tie. Bernal scored later on a wild pitch and Brian Anderson added a three-run home run as the No. 25 Razorbacks broke out of a slump at the plate.
Bernal's triple looked to be foul off the bat but a strong wind blew the ball back into play and it fell in front of the Panthers' right fielder, Demetre Taylor. In his second start, Bernal finished the game 3-for-3 at the plate and was also hit by a pitch. The junior college transfer scored three runs.
Arkansas (5-0) blew a three-run lead in the top of the eighth inning. Reliever Jackson Lowery gave up three hits in the inning after Colin Poche issued a one-out walk. Caleb Howell's RBI double pulled the Panthers within 3-1 before Frankie Perrone's two-run double tied the game with two outs in the inning.
The Razorbacks extended the lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning on Joe Serrano's RBI single. Arkansas had a chance to extend its lead but stranded the bases loaded when Tyler Spoon struck out and Eric Fisher flied out.
Chris Oliver gave Arkansas six scoreless innings in a no-decision. The junior right-hander allowed four hits, struck out four batters and worked around a pair of walks. Eastern Illinois (1-5) had a base runner in every inning.
The Razorbacks broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth inning when Andrew Benintendi's fielder's choice scored Wise. Serrano followed with a RBI single to score Bernal to give Arkansas a 2-0 lead.
Matt Borens pitched six innings for Eastern Illinois, allowing a pair of unearned runs. The right-hander gave up four hits and struck out three batters.
Michael Gunn entered the game in the top of the eighth inning and earned the win on the mound by retiring four batters. Poche threw 1 1/3 innings in relief, allowing one run on two walks. Poche also struck out three batters.
Arkansas recorded 10 hits Saturday. The Razorbacks had only seven combined hits in their previous two games.
The two teams will play their series finale Sunday with a first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Freshman Alex Phillips will start on the mound for the Razorbacks.