Andrew Hutchinson has been a multimedia reporter for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2014.
Beeks, Anderson keep Hogs alive
Arkansas' Jalen Beeks pitches during the first inning of an NCAA college baseball regional tournament game against Bucknell in Charlottesville, Va., Sunday, June 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Pat Jarrett)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. Dave Van Horn hoped to get a couple innings out of the bullpen from Jalen Beeks at the Charlottesville Regional.
Instead, the left-hander gave the Razorbacks a start and five innings as Arkansas beat Bucknell 10-0 in an elimination game. He also gave up only three hits and struck out nine batters, while walking two. His nine strikeouts tied a career-high.
“It was a tremendous job by Jalen coming out there and throwing a lot of strikes,” coach Dave Van Horn said. “A lot of times you just don’t know what you’re going to get. He did a tremendous job.”
The start was Beeks’ first in nearly a month and he wasn’t told until an hour after Arkansas’ 3-0 loss to Virginia that he would get the nod against Bucknell. The layoff did not seem to affect his velocity, as he hit 90 mph on the first pitch of the game and he topped out at 92 mph.
“It’s been a rough month not being able to pitch for this team,” Beeks said. “There’s been a lot of games I wish I could be in. I was just happy I could help the team, again.”
The Razorbacks gave Beeks an early lead, jumping on Bucknell starter Andrew Andreychik. The right-hander gave up four runs on six hits in the first inning.
Clark Eagan led off the game with a single and after Joe Serrano walked and Andrew Benintendi struck out, the next five Arkansas batters singled.
The last two hits during the stretch were RBI-singles by KJ Wilkerson and Alex Gosser, who were each making their first career postseason starts.
Wilkerson went 1-for-3 and also walked and was hit by a pitch, while Gosser went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks. Bobby Wernes and Jake Wise, who they replaced in the lineup, went a combined 1-for-12 in the first two games of the Regional.
“(The switch) worked out good early for sure,” Van Horn said. “The first inning some of the new guys got a chance to hit and they hit.”
Andreychik pitched 2 2/3 innings in the loss for the Bison, allowing four earned runs on nine hits.
“Andrew came out with maybe a little bit better velocity than he usually has,” Bucknell coach and former Arkansas pitcher Scott Heather said, “but it kind of brought him up in the zone and flattened him out a little bit and they certainly jumped on him right away and put some runs on the board.”
After retiring the first two batters he faced, Beeks gave up a double to Joe Ogren, but Ogren was thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple.
He also gave up back-to-back singles to start the second inning, but used a pair of strikeouts and a groundout to end the threat.
The Bison got two base runners again in the third, thanks to two walks, but Beeks got Ogren to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Jackson Lowery finished the game, tossing four scoreless innings and saving pitchers such as Zach Jackson and James Teague for the late game.
The right-hander gave up one hit and struck out five batters to earn his first career save. He also hit two batters with pitches and walked two more.
While Bucknell did not have a hit after the second inning, the Bison had at least one base runner in all but the fourth inning. They did not capitalize, though, stranding 10 men on base.
The Razorbacks added a pair of runs in the third inning on an RBI-single by Eagan and a Joe Serrano sacrifice fly.
The next inning, Arkansas extended its lead with another two runs. Fisher hit an RBI-double down the right field line and later scored when Wilkerson hit into a double play.
Eagan hit a one-out double in the fifth inning and scored on an RBI-single by Benintendi to push the Razorbacks’ lead to 9-0.
Arkansas’ scoring was capped in the sixth inning when Michael Bernal struck out, but the ball got away from Bucknell catcher Justin Meier, allowing him to reach base and Wilkerson to score from third.
All nine starters collected at least one hit for the Razorbacks, as Arkansas tied a season high with 16 hits.
“That was a great job by our offense coming out and hitting a lot of line drives and hitting the ball all over the field the first two innings and giving us a little bit of leeway,” Van Horn said.
Brian Anderson went 3-for-3 with a triple and was hit by a pitch twice, reaching base all five times he went to the plate.
Arkansas has reached the 40-win mark for the fifth time in six seasons and has won at least two games in the NCAA regional round for the fifth consecutive year.
The Razorbacks will play Virginia on Sunday at 7 p.m. Central. Van Horn will send freshman Zach Jackson to the mound in the must-win game against the Cavaliers.
They must beat the Cavaliers twice to advance to the Super Regionals, while Virginia needs to win only once.