Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A two-time 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.
Diamond Hogs rally to remain unbeaten
Arkansas' Zach Jackson releases the ball Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, during the last of a three-game series against Eastern Illinois at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas' offense has struggled to produce consistently, but its bats have come through late early this year.
The No. 25 Razorbacks took the lead with a pair of RBIs in the seventh inning and scored four runs with two outs in the eighth inning to rally past the Panthers 8-3 at Baum Stadium. Arkansas swept the three-game series and improved to 6-0 this season.
Sunday's game was nearly a repeat of one Saturday when the Razorbacks scored five runs with two outs in the eighth inning to win 8-3. Arkansas had blown a 3-0 lead late in that game and blew a 2-0 lead late Sunday.
Eastern Illinois scored three runs and stranded the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning to take the lead.
Arkansas reliever Dominic Taccolini hit a pair of batters to start the top of the seventh and the Panthers loaded the bases with no outs when Anderson couldn't handle a throw covering first base on a bunt.
Eric Fisher forced out a runner at home plate for the first out of the inning, but Eastern Illinois pulled within 2-1 when Landon Simpson walked Brant Valach with the bases loaded. The Panthers took the lead on Demetre Taylor's 2-run single with two outs.
Andrew Benintendi and Joe Serrano reached in the bottom of the inning with consecutive walks. Benintendi scored on a RBI single by Anderson and Serrano scored on a sacrifice fly RBI by Brett McAfee to give the Razorbacks a 4-3 lead.
Arkansas extended its lead in the eighth. Eastern Illinois intentionally walked Anderson to face Spoon with two outs in the inning.
Spoon hit a 1-0 fastball into the gap in left-center field, scoring all three runners with a stand-up double. Spoon scored on a double by McAfee in the next at-bat to cap the scoring.
Eastern Illinois loaded the bases against Michael Gunn in the ninth inning, but McAfee and Anderson turned a double play to end the game.
Arkansas took the lead in the bottom of the third inning. Bobby Wernes walked and Benintendi followed with a 2-run home run into the bullpen in right field to give the Razorbacks a 2-0 lead.
Alex Phillips struggled starting for the second straight Sunday. He worked around a bases-loaded jam in the second inning but didn't return for the third.
Zach Jackson, another freshman right-hander, pitched three scoreless innings in relief. Jacob Stone stranded the bases loaded in the seventh inning and worked a perfect eighth to record his first career win.