Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn had been talking about Matt Reynolds turning the corner since last fall. It hasn't taken long for Reynolds to show why this baseball season.
Reynolds cranked a two-run homer and a double to key a 6-1 victory over Northwestern State on Wednesday as the Razorbacks won their fifth game in five starts at Baum Stadium.
"We saw this coming," Van Horn said. "I've said it several times, too. He had a good summer with Team USA and then had a great fall.
"Confidence is a huge part of this game and all athletics. Obviously, you have to have talent, too, but believing is a big part of it, too.
"He knows the strike zone and he's getting big hits. He has been in the two hole, the four hole and the five hole. It doesn't matter. He just wants to be in the lineup.
"We are proud of him and happy with the way he's started the season. He's finally healthy."
Reynolds, junior captain from Tulsa, was two for four with two RBI, two runs scored. He is hitting .625. He's started every game at third, but has shown the ability to handle shortstop, too.
"It feels great especially after last year," said Reynolds, who hit .243 and has battled injuries in his first two seasons with the Hogs. "I am just goiung to stay grounded an keep working because I know baseball is an up and down sport.
The Hogs completed a two-game sweep of Northwestern. This one was easier than Tuesday when the home team fell behind 4-0 before rallying for an 8-7 triumph. But they were behind 1-0 after the Demons scored in the top of the fourth.
"Their pitcher was a lot like yesterday, but with not quite the velocity," Van Horn said. "We got to him on the second time through the order."
Van Horn said it was just a matter of seeing a good changeup the second time.
"We went after some (changeups) in the dirt the first time," Van Horn said. "The second time through he left some up. We thought we would get him the second time through. Once you see it and then you recognize it better."
The Hogs worked over Andrew Adams in the fourth inning. Bo Bigham opened with a solo home run on a one-two count. Jacob Mahan singled through the right side, then moved up on a wild pitch. Dominic Ficociello hit a bouncer to the hole off the shortstop's glove with Mahan scoring. Reynolds followed with the homer.
Van Horn used seven pitchers and 20 players total. Starter Greg Milhorn went three. Mark Reyes followed for an inning. Chris Oliver went two. Ty Wright, Colby Suggs, Michael Gunn and Nolan Sanburn all went an inning or less.
Sanburn was given the ball at the end for the second straight day, but that might not be his role.
"Sanburn did a good job," Van Horn said. "We wanted to get him rolling. He could close, but we could bring him in for the seventh or the eighth."
It could be that Barrett Astin gets the closer role on the weekends. He started on Sunday, but Randall Fant is likely to get that role this weekend.
"Astin might be the weekend closer," Van Horn said. "We are still trying to figure it out. We are just five games in."
It appears that the Hogs have figured out that Matt Reynolds is going to be in the heart of the batting order.
State of the Hogs: Confident Reynolds
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