A year ago, Tim Carver started slowly. In baseball terminology for an 0-for day, he wore the collar a bunch. Not surprisingly, Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn has the shortstop in the ninth spot in the lineup to start this season.
It's been like a second leadoff man. Carver has been setting the table for the top of the lineup with hits and stolen bases. Carver upped his average to .438.
"He's been outstanding," Van Horn said Friday after the Hogs outplayed Valparaiso, 7-3. Carver had one hit, scored twice and stole two bases to run his total to seven on the 6-0 season.
"He's played great defense today, too. He made some plays on some off-balance, slow moving balls.
"As far as his offense, he's not trying to pull it. He's staying up the middle. We changed his hand position. It's a little higher. He's been a major plus."
Second baseman Bo Bigham had two hits and two RBI and also had some nice plays in the field. He's come to the plate with Carver on base plenty this season. He's given Carver time to run the bases.
"Tim has got the bat going," Bigham said. "I hope he keeps it up. Right now, we have a joke going that the nine hole is the leadoff man. I'm going to take some pitches because I know Tim's going. I have to do what I can to let him go."
Everyone in the infield made stellar plays behind UA starter DJ Baxendale. From third baseman Matt Reynolds to the middle infielders, Carver and Bigham, to first baseman Dominic Ficociello, the defense was superb. Baxendale had praise for catcher Jake Wise, too.
"In the fifth, to be able to work out a jam always is a confidence booster," Baxendale said. "There were two men on and I just went to attacking the zone because I knew how our defense plays. And then to get two punch outs on curve balls in the dirt that Wise blocked was good. He just kept them in front of him.
"We have great defense. Guys behind us are making plays. Today I just tried to pound the zone. I had a little better off-speed pitch."
State of the Hogs: Carver Setting Table
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