SEC BASEBALL :

Missouri can't get to Oliver

By: DAVID MORRISON Special to the Democrat-Gazette
Published: Saturday, May 17, 2014
Arkansas pitcher Chris Oliver fires a pitch in the 2nd inning of the Razorbacks' game against Vanderbilt Sunday, April 20, 2014, at Baum Stadium.
Photo by Michael Woods
Arkansas pitcher Chris Oliver fires a pitch in the 2nd inning of the Razorbacks' game against Vanderbilt Sunday, April 20, 2014, at Baum Stadium.

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Arkansas starter Chris Oliver gave up a double down the left-field line to the third batter he faced Friday night and two innings later gave up a single through the middle.

That was about all he allowed Missouri.

Those two hits, a walk and a hit batsman were all the damage Missouri could manage against the Razorbacks' junior right-hander in Arkansas' 4-0 victory that clinched its first SEC road series this season in the final weekend.

"Yeah, it's about time," Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said.

Oliver (7-4) struck out five over six innings for Arkansas (34-21, 15-14 SEC), which got all it needed offensively with a three-run fifth and another in the sixth.

Van Horn said Oliver wanted to come out for the seventh inning, but the four-run cushion allowed the Razorbacks to save his arm for next week's SEC Tournament.

"I would have liked to have commanded the fastball a little more," Oliver said. "I left it arm side too much. Got to work to get it glove side. What saved me tonight was the change-up. I'm pretty confident with that pitch."

Oliver struck out four batters looking, and reliever Zach Jackson added another looking. Arkansas pitchers have struck out 11 looking over the first two games of the series and have 19 total strikeouts.

Arkansas recorded its first shutout since beating South Carolina 7-0 on April 5.

"The guys are making good pitches," said Missouri Coach Tim Jamieson, whose Tigers (20-32, 6-23) lost their 14th consecutive game. "They're pitching inside. We don't see that a lot, and they're doing a really good job of getting fastballs inside there. We're just not going to hit that ball very well."

Arkansas' offense produced all four runs with two outs.

Nine-hole hitter Michael Bernal singled to start the rally in the fifth, Clark Eagan followed with a single, and Joe Serrano drove in Bernal with a double.

Andrew Benintendi drove in Eagan and Serrano with a single to give the Razorbacks a 3-0 lead.

Second baseman Brian Anderson led off the next inning with a walk, stole second and came around to score on a single by Bobby Wernes off of Missouri starter Peter Fairbanks (4-7).

Serrano went 3 for 5 with a double, and eight of Arkansas' nine batters reached base at least once.

"Hitting is contagious. It's kind of well-known throughout baseball," said Serrano, who had one hit in 14 at-bats entering Friday. "You see someone do well and it gives you confidence to do even better. We kind of string a few together, then we have confidence in Oliver on the mound throwing up a zero."

Arkansas moved into the seventh spot in the SEC with Alabama's shutout loss to Mississippi State on Friday night. The Razorbacks can clinch the No.7 seed for the conference tournament -- and their first series sweep in league play this season -- with a victory today and can finish no lower than ninth with a loss and victories by Kentucky and Alabama.

Van Horn said Arkansas will throw Dominic Taccolini. He's hoping to get at least three innings out of the freshman right-hander.

"We're loose, but we don't want to be too loose," Van Horn said. "I just want them to be serious, but have fun, and come out and give it their best shot."

Today’s game

ARKANSAS AT MISSOURI

WHEN 6 p.m. WHERE Taylor Stadium, Columbia, Mo. RECORDS Arkansas 34-21, 15-14 SEC; Missouri 20-32, 6-23 RADIO RSP statewide radio network. Not all games will be carried by affiliates. Check local listings. TV CST INTERNET arkansasrazorbacks.com

THURSDAY’S GAMES

Florida 14, Tennessee 13 Arkansas 9, Missouri 4 Kentucky 13, Georgia 0 LSU 10, Auburn 0 South Carolina 4, Vanderbilt 3 Mississippi St. 9, Alabama 4 Ole Miss 8, Texas A&M 4

FRIDAY’S GAMES

Florida 4, Tennessee 2 Arkansas 4, Missouri 0 Mississippi St. 1, Alabama 0 Kentucky 10, Georgia 0 LSU 11, Auburn 3 Vanderbilt 9, South Carolina 3 Ole Miss 4, Texas A&M2

TODAY’S GAMES

All times Central

Florida at Tennessee, noon Kentucky at Georgia, noon LSU at Auburn, 1 p.m. South Carolina at Vanderbilt, 3 p.m. Ole Miss at Texas A&M, 3:05 p.m. Mississippi St. at Alabama, 3 p.m. Arkansas at Missouri, 3 p.m.

Sports on 05/17/2014

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