Arkansas 12, South Alabama 1

Joe Serrano has a career-high four of his team's season-high 14 hits and pitcher Jalen Beeks (3-0) battles through six innings as the Razorbacks (7-0) stay unbeaten Friday by dowing South Alabama 12-1 before 1,378 fans at Baum Stadium.

For just a minute Friday afternoon, it appeared that South Alabama starting pitcher Matt Bell was going to be the one setting the tone against Arkansas.

After he walked Andrew Benintendi and then allowed Joe Serrano to double him to third, Bell set down both Brian Anderson and Tyler Spoon.

Bell was one pitch away from getting out of the inning, but Eric Fisher then walked and Krisjon Wilkerson roped a double to plate a pair of runs.



Brett McAfee then added a to-out double and the rout was on as the Razorbacks pounded the Jaguars 12-1 Friday before a crowd of 1,378 fans on a chilly afternoon.

"We punched in four runs in the first inning and they were all scored with two outs," Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. " That was huge.

"...We didn't send Benintendi there because you have Anderson and Spoon coming up and you are thinking that you are going to drive him in there," Van Horn added. "It was just huge for our team and kind of set the tone for what we were going to do the rest of the day and that was we stayed through a lot of pitches."

Joe Serrano was 4-of-4 with a walk, three double and four RBIs on a day when the Razorbacks (7-0) unleashed an offense that had 14 hits to support winning pitcher Jalen Beeks (3-0).

It left Arkansas as only one of nine unbeaten teams out of the 298 Division I squads heading into Friday night's games.

"I thought offensively we just did about as good a job as we could do of staying over the baseball and using the whole field," Van Horn said.

Wilkerson, McAfee and Michael Bernal all had two hits each as 8 of those 12 runs were scored with two outs.

"It's huge," Van Horn said. "It is demoralizing if you are on the other end of it and we have been on both ends of that obviously. You are just one pitch from getting out of an inning and next thing you are down two, you are down four or whatever it ended up being.

"We did a good job of just battling at the plate, worked the counts for the most part and finally guys got pitches they could handle and they did a good job with them," Van Horn added.

Serrano is now hitting .407 on the season and thinks all of Arkansas' hitters are flourishing under new hitting coach Tony Vitello.

"I feel like we're just having great at bats," Serrano said. "We're going up there with a mindset. Instead of just trying to get a hit, just try to get a quality at bat and hit the ball hard. As you saw today with Fisher, you could hit the ball a million miles an hour. But if they're there they catch it. It's unfortunate. And then sometimes you get the bloop hits. Any baseball player would take the bloop hits. You just try to do what you can at the plate and have a quality at bat."

South Alabama head coach Mark Calvi, an assistant at South Carolina from 2005-2010, was impressed.

"I thought they beat us in all three areas," Calvin said. "They out-pitched us, they out-hit us and they out-defended us. They played better in every aspect. If we plan on being in either of those two games tomorrow, we've got to do a much better job in those three facets."

Calvi sees a typical Arkansas squad under Van Horn.

"The faces and names might change, but they're going to play hard for Coach Van Horn, they're going to go at it, they're going to play the game correctly," Calvi said. "The pitchers are all going to have good stuff and throw strikes and compete their tails off. "It really doesn't matter which year you play Arkansas, my experience is that you're going to get the same type team that goes at it hard," Calvi said. "They always have a good makeup, and they do the little things right. They didn't shock me at all."

Beeks pitched three-hit baseball over six innings while allowing his first run of the season after going 13 ½ without giving up one.

He would fan six and walk three on a day when temperatures were in the 30s.

"I told him after the game that we scored some runs for him and he has been lights out the first two outings," Van Horn said. "It was a cold day and that's just the way it is. He didn't have his best command. He had pretty good stuff, but he just wasn't able to spot it or throw it where he wanted like normal.

"...He (Beeks) battled through that second inning and once he got through there he gave us a couple of quick ones, but he still didn't have the command like he usually does, but he did a great job of fighting through it," Van Horn added.

Beeks understandably loved the run support and the Razorbacks have outscored foes 30-5 in his three starts.

"I love it," Beeks said. " I haven't had a close game yet. We've jumped on them all three weekends the first game. it's a lot easier on the pitchers. People don't really realize it, we're just going to go out there and do our thing. It's a lot easier. I can fill up the zone a lot more. Do things like that. I just tip my hat to those guys. I couldn't hit how they're doing. That's why I pitched. But we've got a great group of hitters and I'm just proud to be on this team."

Serrano was on fire and had a chance for a school-record fourth double, but could only muster a single in his final at bat.

"He had a tremendous day," Van Horn said. "He has been around and he has gotten a lot of plate appearances here at Arkansas. I think the experience is definitely starting to pay off for him. When he is going good and swinging at strikes, he is tough to get out. He is just a solid hitter and makes solid contact."

James Teague, Dominic Taccolini and Chris Falwell all pitched a scoreless inning of relief for Arkansas. "...It was Teague's first outing and he has got good stuff," Van Horn said. "There have been a couple of times that we have had him up ready to come in. He is a 90 mile an hour guy, a little more than that, and he's got a good breaking ball.

"...When Taccolini came in, it was his third outing and definitely his best," Van Horn added. "He is starting to slow the game down in his mind a little bit and he has got tremendous stuff. He got three ground balls and that's what he does. He throws a real heavy ball and it sinks. Infielders are on their toes when he is on the mound because they are going to get some work.

"Falwell's first outing, the big left-hander, it was good to see him come in and do what he did," Van Horn continued. "Two out of the three hitters he faced in the ninth inning were left-handers and he struck one out on three pitches, got the other one to ground out and the right-hander lined out to left.

"He came in and I don't think he threw a ball," Van Horn said. "That's huge for him, that's huge for us and gives us confidence to use those guys again."

Arkansas catcher Jake Wise continues to struggle at the plate as he went 0-for-4 with a run-scoring groundout and is batting .059.

"He is fighting it a little bit," Van Horn said. "It is hard when you are struggling and a lot of guys around you are doing so well and that adds to it. We are working on it. There are so many different ways that you can go about it, but realistically, he is trying to do too much. You are not going to get more than one hit at a time. We are not looking for him to hit the ball out of the park.

"His number one job is to handle our pitching staff and he does a great job with that," Van Horn added. "But for him personally, it is frustrating for him because he doesn't feel like he is contributing offensively. His day is coming. I really believe it will."

Arkansas and South Alabama will meet in a doubleheader Saturday with first pitch of the opener at 12:05.

The teams were suppose to play a game on Sunday, but pushed Saturday to a doubleheader because of the threat of inclement weather on Sunday.

"Hopefully we can put it together tomorrow," Van Horn said. "We have 18 innings at a minimum tomorrow. I told our guys to enjoy it and be ready to go again tomorrow."


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