COLLEGE BASEBALL:

Arkansas shows stingy side again

By: RICK HARVEY SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE
Published: Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Arkansas' Brian Anderson celebrates after scoring a run against Kansas State in the first inning in an NCAA baseball regional game in Manhattan, Kan., Sunday, June 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Jeff Tuttle)
Arkansas' Brian Anderson celebrates after scoring a run against Kansas State in the first inning in an NCAA baseball regional game in Manhattan, Kan., Sunday, June 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Jeff Tuttle)

FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas’ doubleheader struggles were put to rest quickly Tuesday.

The Razorbacks turned in two solid pitching performances and their offense was active early and often, combining for 21 hits in 6-0 and 12-1 victories over Mississippi Valley State in front of an announced crowd of 2,106 at a chilly Baum Stadium.

It was the first doubleheader sweep in five tries for Arkansas, which last won two on March 9, 2013, against San Diego State. The teams will close their three-game series at 6:35 p.m. today with a game at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock.

“This really gives us some good momentum,” said Arkansas center fielder Tyler Spoon, who finished the day4 for 7. “We need to carry it over to [today] and into this weekend against Mississippi State.”

After giving up 17 runs in Friday’s loss to Alabama, Arkansas’ streak of shutout innings reached 25 2/3 before Mississippi Valley State scored on a single from Kalik May in the second inning of Tuesday’s nightcap.

It was the only run the Delta Devils (1-22) managed all day.

Colin Poche (2-0), a sophomore left-hander from Flower Mound, Texas, struck out six over five shutout innings in the first game and relievers Jackson Lowery and Chris Falwell each added two shutout innings of relief.

In the second game, James Teague (1-0), Jacob Stone, Zach Jackson and Landon Simpson combined to strike out eight in a game shortened to seven innings because of a pre-arranged 10-run rule agreement.

Poche said giving up 17 runs to Alabama served as a bit of motivation for Arkansas’ staff.

“It was a bit of a fluke,” Poche said. “Our pitching staff should never give up that many runs. We have been determined to show that that wasn’t our staff and we can do better.

“We’ve done a good job of getting ahead of hitters and keeping them off balance, and when you do that it’s tough on them. We’ve got a lot of talent on this staff, and when you’re working ahead like that it’s tough on them.”

Poche, who threw four shutout innings last week against Grambling State, was even better Tuesday. He struck out at least one batter in each inning and finished with a season-high 86 pitches, 60 of them strikes.

“I threw pretty well,” he said. “Coming off last week I thought my breaking ball was better and my fastball command was good. Now I just need to work on my change up.

“I felt good. I still had some left in the tank. I feel like my stuff is getting better each time I go out.”

Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said Poche is getting closer to being an option for conference games.

“If he could get the change up working and gets three pitches, then he’ll be closer to seeing time on the weekends,” Van Horn said. “It’s good to see him getting it going.”

Arkansas’ offense had 10 hits in the opener, seven coming from Joe Serrano, Anderson and Spoon, the No. 2-4 batters in the lineups.

An RBI single from KJ Wilkerson made it 1-0 in the second inning and Spoon made it 2-0 with an RBI single in the third inning. After the Razorbacks scored an unearned run in the fourth, a two-run double from Eric Fisher made it 5-0 in the fifth.

The Razorbacks (15-8), who have won four consecutive, set the tone early in the second game by scoring three runs on two hits in the first, which included an RBI double by Anderson.

Mississippi Valley State pulled to within 3-1 in the second inning, but Arkansas used single runs in the second and fifth innings and two runs in the sixth to make it 8-1. The highlight of the fifth inning was a three-run inside-the park home run by Anderson on a ball that ricocheted off the left-center field wall.

Arkansas ended the game with a four-run seventh inning that included a double by Garrett Rucker and single by Serrano.

SUN BELT ARKANSAS STATE 10, MEMPHIS 7

Arkansas State (15-9) scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to erase a two-run deficit and defeat Memphis on Tuesday night at Tomlinson Stadium in Jonesboro.

ASU led 5-3 after seven innings, but the Tigers scored four runs on two hits and one error in the top of the eighth inning to take a 7-5 lead before the Red Wolves went to work in the bottom half of the inning.

Austin Baker drove in his third run of the game when he reached on an error by the Tigers’ center fielder that allowed Collin Massanelli to score from third and bring the Red Wolves within a run. Lucas Feddersen followed with an RBI infield single to the shortstop that scored Zach Maggio to tie the game at 5-5.

Matt Burgess drove in the go-ahead run with a bloop-single to the left side that drove in Baker and came around to score on a double from Ty Michelotti to push the advantage to 10-7. ASU scored its five runs on four hits and one error in the inning.

SWAC TEXAS TECH 2-5, ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF 0-1

Arkansas-Pine Bluff (7-17) managed only four hits and one run as it lost both games of a doubleheader against Texas Tech (21-7) on Tuesday at Rip Griffin Park in Lubbock, Texas.

Texas Tech’s Matt Withrow (3-1) struck out 10 and gave up one hit as the Red Raiders shut out UAPB in the opening game. Jake Barrious and Eric Gutierrez each went 2 for 4 with 1 RBI for Texas Tech.

Leadoff man Jose Hernandez had UAPB’s lone hit. Starter Jim Ploeger (2-2) took the loss after allowing 1 run on 3 hits over 2 2/3 innings with 2 strikeouts and 2 walks.

Today’s game

MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE VS. ARKANSAS WHEN 6:35 p.m.

WHERE Dickey-Stephens Park, North Little Rock RECORDS Arkansas 15-8. Mississippi Valley State 1-22.

TICKETS General admission $12. Approximately 1,800 tickets remained Tuesday afternoon.

TV Cox Sports Television in Northwest Arkansas.

RADIO RSP statewide radio network. Not all games will be carried by affiliates. Check local listings.

INTERNET arkansasrazorbacks.com and ESPN3

PITCHING MATCHUP Arkansas: RHP Alex Phillips (1-0, 2.25 ERA). Mississippi Valley State: TBA SHORT HOPS Arkansas backup catcher Blake Baxendale left Tuesday’s game in the fourth inning and was taken for X-rays after he was hit on the arm during a Mississippi Valley State player’s follow-through on a swing.

LOOKING AHEAD All times Central

WEDNESDAY vs Mississippi Valley State, 6:35 p.m.#

THURSDAY off

FRIDAY at Mississippi State, 6:30 p.m.

SATURDAY at Mississippi State, 2 p.m.

SUNDAY at Mississippi State 1:30 p.m. #Dickey-Stephens Park, North Little Rock

TUESDAY’S GAMES UALR at Missouri (DH), ppd., weather Arkansas 6-12, Miss. Valley State 0-1 Florida 4, Florida State 1 Xavier at Kentucky, ppd.

Alabama 10, Troy 5 Clemson 16, Georgia 4 South Carolina 4, Coll. of Charleston 2 Auburn 10, Kennesaw State 5 Tulane 3, LSU 2 Southern Miss. 5, Mississippi 3 Vanderbilt 2, Belmont 1 Sam Houston State 8, Texas A&M 1

TODAY’S GAMES All times Central Xavier at Kentucky, 3 p.m.

Coastal Carolina at So. Carolina, 6 p.m.

Miss. Valley State vs. Arkansas at North Little Rock, 6:35 p.m.

Sports, Pages 19 on 03/26/2014

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