FAYETTEVILLE - It took a late-inning rally to keep the win streak alive for No. 24 Arkansas against Utah on Saturday at Baum Stadium.
The Razorbacks struggled at the plate for most of the game against Utah's starter Zach Adams, who used a fastball and slider to keep the Arkansas offense off balance.
"Their pitcher was outstanding," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "He had what I call a 'plus fastball,' kind of jumping out of his hand, it was in the 90s. He mixed it up pretty good, that slider was nice, and he kept us off guard and he got some strikeouts.
"He gave them a chance to win, I just feel fortunate to get away with the win today."
The Utes struck first in the second inning when Jo Jo Sharrar hit an RBI single up the middle to score Shaun Cooper. They added two more runs in the third on a CJ Cron homerun that landed in the Arkansas bullpen.
Van Horn on the All-American Cron, "He's going to be a high pick, one of the top hitters in the country, and everybody's known that. He's an outstanding first baseman, and a big time power hitter."
Coach Van Horn gathered his players around him in the dugout following the top of the third inning to adjust their offensive approach.
"Coach Van Horn brought us all together, and said we just have to battle," said Outfielder Jacob Morris, who got his first start in center field today.
"In baseball the best team doesn't always win, and we knew that pitcher was on today, so we had to put something together and get some guys on base and move them around."
Geoffrey Davenport started the game for the Hogs, but struggled to get through 3 1/3 innings. Barrett Astin came on to provide the Razorbacks with 3 2/3 innigs of relief, giving up only one run - the first given up by the Arkansas bullpen in 15 2/3 innings this season.
That run, a blast over the 375-foot sign in left, came off the bat of Cron for his second home run of the day.
"It went a long way," Astin said. "I just made a mistake, I threw a 3-1 count right over the plate, and he did what he's supposed to do with it."
The Razorbacks broke through for three in the seventh inning off of a pair of Utah relievers.
Tim Carver led off the rally with a single that bounced off the Utah pitcher. Jacob Morris followed with a walk to give the Razorbacks two men on with nobody out in the inning.
Collin Kuhn hit an RBI double to left center, scoring Carver. After a walk by Jarrod McKinney and an RBI single by Matt Reynolds, Kyle Robinson grounded into a double play, but that allowed Kuhn to score easily from third, giving the Razorbacks the lead for the first time in the game.
"It was huge," Reynolds said. "He left the fastball up and I got a good swing on it and got a base hit to left. Kuhn had a big two-strike hit that kept the inning going; it just shows our resilience as a team."
Kuhn on the Razorbacks' comeback, "It's a great thing to see early in the year. Sometimes early in the year teams will give up, and we definitely don't do that."
The comeback win was the Razorbacks' second in a row, something they never encountered last week.
"Last week, I'm not going to say it was easy because it's not, it's never easy, but we always had the lead late," Van Horn said. "A couple of those games last week it took us a while to get the lead, but once we got it we built on it.
"We were behind last night and we came back and learned how to do that. So when we were down 3-0 we knew we still had plenty of at-bats and like I said, I'm glad we punched in a couple of runs to keep it close until we put together a big inning."
Randall Fant danced around a potentially disastrous eighth inning after allowing a double to start things off and following it up with a walk to the next batter.
"We feel real fortunate to get through that top of the eighth without giving up a run, and then to come in and hold it in the ninth, that was a good save," Van Horn said.
DJ Baxendale came on in the ninth to earn his first save of the season after throwing 3 1/3 innings of relief in last night's game.
"DJ was the man last year," Morris said. "We knew he could do it again this year. He did an awesome job. We expect that, we knew we were going to win in that last inning."
The Razorbacks committed two errors in the field and allowed six of nine Utah lead-off hitters to get on base.
"We didn't play very well," Van Horn said. "We made some costly errors and some mistakes, but we still battled and overcame and did just enough to win."
Van Horn added, "[We] just gave them extra at-bats, and they took advantage of a couple of those. But we never gave up the big inning, the 3-4-5 run inning, and that's what kept us in the game."
Astin commented on the team's ability to handle adversity, "I think adversity is handled by the older guys on the team. I think they handled it pretty well and it causes the rest of the team to handle it. Big time players make big time plays and today they did it."
Kuhn offered a bright upside to the team's future, "I think that's just a sign that we haven't really played our best baseball yet, and we're really looking forward to getting everything together. Once we do that I think we'll be a dynamite team."
Brandon Moore is scheduled to get his second career start tomorrow. Moore threw six scoreless innings of two-hit baseball last week against Delaware State.
Tomorrow's game is scheduled for 12:35 at Baum Stadium.