Razorbacks Sweep Delta Devils

Brian Anderson hits a 3-run inside the park homer and he and Tyler Spoon combine for 8 hits while Arkansas' pitching handcuffs Mississippi Valley State as the Razorbacks sweep the Delta Davils 6-0 and 12-1 in a doubleheader Tuesday at Baum Stadium.

Arkansas will take a four-game winning streak on its annual trek to North Little Rock on Wednesday night.

The Razorbacks (15-8) will also take a foe that is now 1-22.

Brian Anderson's three-run inside-the-park homer highlighted Arkansas' 12-1 win over struggling Mississippi Valley State in seven innings before a crowd of 2,106 fans at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

That run-rule shortened game combined with a 6-0 win in the opener to complete a doubleheader sweep of the a team the Razorbacks will also lay Wednesday night at 6:35 p.m. at the home of the Class AA Arkansas Travelers.

"Just glad to get those two games in and get a chance to use some pitching," Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. "I thought in the first game... it took us a little while to get it going in my opinion.

"In the second game, we came out and swung the bats real well, hit a lot of balls hard and hit some balls at people," Van Horn said. "We put together a couple of good innings and then finally kind of put them away those last two innings."

Anderson and Tyler Spoon – Arkansas' 3- and 4-hole hitters - combined to go 8-of-16 with five runs and six RBIs in the twinbill.

Spoon had three hits in the first game and another in the nightcap while Anderson had two in each game of the doubleheader on a day when the Razorbacks had 21 in the two wins.

Anderson had the most thrilling play when he lashed a drive over the center fielder's head in the sixth inning and never stopped running until sliding in at the plate.

"I saw the center fielder turn his back so I thought I had him burned," Anderson said. "I didn't know if it was going to get out of the park or not, but I saw the ricochet off the wall and really was just looking to get to third at least.

"(Third base and Arkansas hitting) Coach (Tony) Vitello kept waving me and even though (Andrew) Benintendi kinda slipped, he was able to get up and recover," Anderson added. "I was just trying to get extra bases and it turned out that I was able to get all four."

Spoon and Anderson hitting was a good sign with a conference series at Mississippi State starting on Friday.

"He (Spoon) needed it for his confidence," Van Horn said. "We need to get Brian and him rolling. We won a couple of games this weekend and there wasn't a lot of offense, but we are going to need offense at Mississippi State (this weekend). They are a great team, it's a tough place to play and they are drawing big crowds again after the great year they had last year. It will be a great atmosphere."

After the Razorbacks ran their scoreless streak to 24 1/3 innings in the first game and eventually to 25 2/3, they did allow a crack in the armor in the second inning of the second game.

Kalik May's RBI single – one of his team's 10 hits total I the two games - plated the lone run of the day for the Delta Devils in the second inning and ended the streak.

Arkansas has now given up only two runs in its last 34 innings after giving up to 17 runs to Alabama on Friday night.

"We did a good job on Saturday and Sunday and there are some guys there are some guys that were hungry to get out on the mound," Van Horn said. "We have a couple of more guys that we are going to get in the game tomorrow. We'll let (starter Alex) Phillips go for awhile if he does a good job, but there are three or four guys we want to pitch and we might even pitch couple of guys that pitched tonight another inning so get used to pitching two days in a row."

Arkansas had jumped out 3-0 in the first when Benintendi was hit by a pitch, Joe Serrano bunted his way on, Anderson doubled a run home and Spoon and Eric Fisher added sacrifice flies.

Benintendi's RBI double chased home Jake Wise to push the Razorbacks' lead to 4-1 in the bottom of the second.

It grew to 5-1 in the fifth when Eagan doubled in Fisher.

Anderson then erased all doubt when he ripped a drive over the center fielder's head that bounded away and allowed Bobby Wernes, Benintendi and Anderson all to score and make it 8-1.

It was the first Arkansas inside the park home run since Danny Hamblin's in 2007.

"The new padding exploded that ball back about 30 yards it looked like to me," Van Horn said. "You got to learn how to play it. We are finding out that passed balls are jumping around. But it looks good and plays good.

"He hammered that ball... I thought it was going to get out, but it hit the top of the fence," Van Horn said. "You have got to give him credit. He hammered that ball and he probably thought it was going to get out of here, but he ran always out of the box or it is just a triple. He turned it into a home run."

After three pitchers combined to blank the Delta Devils in the opener, the Razorbacks trotted out freshman James Teague for his first career start in game two.

"He did a good job," Van Horn said. "He had a good breaking ball early. He was throwing his fast ball 90 miles an hour or 91. I think he was a little bit nervous, but I think that was to be expected.

"He just has to work on the other things – holding runners on, little things like that in league play where they will really take advantage of you on," Van Horn added. "But as far as attacking hitters, he was keeping the ball down with good velocity and some movement. I thought he had a nice breaking pitch going."

Teague allowed four hits and the one run in four innings while Jacob Stone, Zach Jackson and Landon Simpson all chipped in a scoreless inning.

Blake Baxendale was the starting catcher in the second game, but had to leave with an injury early in the contest.

"They did an x-ray," Van Horn said. "I would guess it was probably a deep bruise or just a bruise, but you never know. It was a back swing that came around and caught him on the forearm. I think he thought he was better than he was until he swung and it hurt him a little bit."

If Baxendale is out for any length of time, true freshman and current redshirt Alex Goesser of North Little Rock would become the second-string catcher. "He is a pretty good catcher," Van Horn said. "We were planning on redshirting him unless somebody got hurt. He was a little nervous. I went in there and talked to him about playing and I think I caught him off guard so we just pulled our DH and put him in there.

"We'll discuss it and see how it is going," Van Horn added. "If Blake has a problem, then we'll just make a move."

Shortstop Brett McAfee is not likely to make the 27-man roster that goes to Mississippi State this weekend because of a lingering back injury.

"He was good to go until last night," Van Horn said. "He did a little working out yesterday, he did a little sprint work and then last night it locked up on him again.

"We are keeping him here and he is going to have an MRI tomorrow," Van Horn added. "As of right now I am not going to put him on the 27-man roster at Mississippi State. I was planning on playing him the first game today until last night."

Arkansas and Mississippi Valley State will cap off their three-game set in front of what is expected to be a sold-out crowd in North Little Rock.

"It will be a fun experience," Van Horn said. "The team likes going down there and playing a game. The fans always seem to be excited and the place is sold out. I think the weather is going to be okay, warmer than it was tonight. And it worked out because it is on the way to Mississippi State."

Brian Anderson

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