Anderson comes through in opener
Razorbacks snag tournament spot
Arkansas second baseman Brian Anderson heads to first after hitting the ball to the outfield during the fourth inning against Auburn Friday, April 25, 2014, at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Clark Eagan hasn't been making many mistakes at the plate lately.
The Arkansas freshman who took over designated hitter duties with Blake Baxendale nursing a hamstring injury over the past two weeks coaxed a walk and two singles in his first three at-bats against Missouri on Thursday night.
Then, with the game tied 2-2 and a runner on first in the seventh, Eagan took the first pitch he saw out to right field for a two-run home run to help break open the game for the Razorbacks in a 9-4, series-opening victory that clinched them a spot in next week's SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala.
"I'm seeing the ball well right now," Eagan said. "Keep it short, keep it easy and just hit the ball hard."
The Razorbacks' leadoff hitter also drew a walk in the ninth inning after falling behind 0-2 and fouling off four pitches to finish off a 3 for 3 day with 2 walks.
That walk led to a Joe Serrano single and an Andrew Benintendi walk that loaded the bases for Brian Anderson, who hit the first grand slam of his college career to give the Razorbacks their final runs.
Arkansas (33-21, 14-14 SEC) is 5-1 in games in which Eagan has batted leadoff this season. He ran his totals to 9 of 15 with 5 walks, 2 home runs and 5 RBI over the past 5 games.
"He brings a lot of speed to our lineup," Coach Dave Van Horn said. "He's a threat to lay down a bunt. He had a really good at-bat there in the top of the ninth and, next thing you know, Brian hits a grand slam. He had a great day for us."
So did Anderson.
After Missouri (20-32, 6-22) went up 1-0 in the second on Dillon Everett's RBI single, Anderson went opposite field on a 1-0 fastball from Tigers starter Brett Graves (3-6), depositing it into the trees beyond the 340 sign in right field for a game-tying home run in the fourth.
"I was just looking for anything elevated I could get," Anderson said. "The wind kind of helped me out there, and I kind of pushed it toward the shorter part of the field. It was able to go out. That kind of got me rolling today."
He followed with a triple in the sixth and the grand slam, his sixth home run of the year, in the ninth to finish 3 for 5 with 5 RBI.
It was the first multi-home run game in the junior's career and Arkansas' first since Derrick Bleeker hit two against Tennessee on May 17, 2012.
Arkansas had a season-high 3 home runs, Anderson's triple and 2 Eric Fisher doubles in support of starter Trey Killian (3-8), who gave up 2 runs on 4 hits and struck out a career-high 9 over 6 innings to hand Missouri its 13th consecutive SEC loss.
Killian, who Van Horn said would be ready to go again when the Razorbacks start SEC Tournament play Tuesday, struck out five hitters looking over a string of six batters in the third and fourth innings.
"The umpire had a good zone, was very consistent," Killian said. "I was able to spot up the fastball late in the count and, if you can do that in and out you can get a lot of guys looking."
Sports on 05/16/2014