Diamond Hogs hit 5 home runs, hammer Georgia

By: Matt Jones
Published: Thursday, April 13, 2017
Chad Spanberger (24), Arkansas first baseman, shakes assistant coach Tony Vitello's hand as he rounds third base after hitting a home run Thursday, April 13, 2017, during the first inning against Georgia at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Chad Spanberger (24), Arkansas first baseman, shakes assistant coach Tony Vitello's hand as he rounds third base after hitting a home run Thursday, April 13, 2017, during the first inning against Georgia at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

— It took Arkansas 20 fewer games to eclipse its win and home run totals from last year.

The No. 15 Razorbacks tied a season-high with five home runs in a 14-4 win over Georgia in front of 4,806 at Baum Stadium on Thursday.

Arkansas (27-8, 9-4 SEC) kept pace with Auburn for a first-place tie in the SEC standings. The Razorbacks will attempt to win the series Friday at 6 p.m.

Friday's Ticket

No. 15 ARKANSAS vs. GEORGIA

WHEN 6 p.m.

WHERE Baum Stadium, Fayetteville

RECORDS Arkansas 27-8, 9-4 SEC; Georgia 15-20, 4-9

RADIO Razorback Sports Network. Not all games will be carried by all affiliates. Check local listings.

TELEVISION None

INTERNET SEC Network-Plus

SERIES Arkansas leads 31-21

PITCHING MATCHUP Georgia: RHP Blakely Brown (0-1, 4.86 ERA); Arkansas: RHP Trevor Stephan (4-2, 2.86 ERA)

SHORT HOPS Arkansas has eclipsed its victory total from last season when the Razorbacks finished with a 26-29 record. … The Razorbacks have had at least 19 base runners in four of their past five games. … Georgia Coach Scott Stricklin coached against Arkansas in the 2012 College World Series when he was at Kent State. The Razorbacks won the game 8-1.

Five different players homered as the Razorbacks improved to 5-0 in SEC series openers. Chad Spanberger hit a solo home run in the first; Carson Shaddy and Luke Bonfield had home runs in the third; Jax Biggers hit a leadoff homer in the fifth; and senior pinch-hitter Alex Gosser hit his first career home run in the eighth.

Arkansas leads the SEC with 50 home runs this season, one more than the team hit in 55 games last year. The Razorbacks are averaging 1.42 home runs per game - the same pace as the 2010 team that set the school record with 92 in a season.

“I say it all the time, we thought we’d have some pop in the fall because we did hit a lot of balls out of the park and off the fence,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “Guys are starting to get in a groove a little bit…and seeing the ball pretty good. It’s a big part of our offense.

“When you can put together a couple of big innings per game, you’ve got a good chance of winning.”

Spanberger extended his hit streak to eight games with his first-inning home run. The junior first baseman went 2-for-3 with 3 RBI and 2 walks, and raised his batting average to .327 in SEC games.

Spanberger added a two-run double down the first base line in the second to give Arkansas a 3-1 lead. The double was appealed by Georgia, but upheld via replay.

“Spanberger in the two hole is not your typical two hole-hitter,” Georgia coach Scott Stricklin said. “He’s there so he can hit more often. He is really hot right now and is probably the hottest hitter besides (Mississippi State’s Brent) Rooker in the league.”

Spanberger also was at-bat when the Razorbacks scored twice in the third on wild pitches by Georgia reliever Tony Locey. Spanberger came to the plate with the bases loaded and Jared Gates scored on the second pitch of the at-bat.

That caused Georgia to call for an intentional walk, but a 2-1 pitch from Locey went wide of catcher Austin Biggar to bring home Jordan McFarland and give the Razorbacks a 7-1 lead.

Arkansas scored seven runs in the third. Shaddy hit a two-run homer to left field off Georgia starter Blakely Brown with no outs in the inning, and Bonfield added a three-run home run to left one pitch after Spanberger was intentionally walked to give the Razorbacks a 10-1 lead.

“It’s kind of like a disrespect thing when someone pitches around to you, but honestly I wouldn’t pitch to him right now,” Bonfield said. “The way he’s seeing the ball and crushing the ball, it’s fun to watch. I was happy I could get the job done for the team and add to the already big lead we had.”

Sophomore right-hander Blaine Knight earned his fifth SEC win and sixth overall for Arkansas with a 6-inning start on 6 days' rest. Knight struck out 5 and gave up his only run when Georgia clean-up hitter Michael Curry led off the second with a home run to tie the game 1-1.

“I definitely didn’t have my best stuff tonight at all,” Knight said. “It took a lot of stress off me knowing that I didn’t have my best stuff, but we’re putting up runs like we’re doing.”

Curry accounted for all 4 RBI for the Bulldogs. He hit a three-run home run off Arkansas reliever Weston Rogers in the eighth to pull Georgia within 13-4.

The Bulldogs (15-20, 4-9) stranded the bases loaded in the eighth when Adam Sasser grounded out to second base. Arkansas reliever Barrett Loseke recorded the Razorbacks’ final five outs after inheriting two on base with one out in the eighth.

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