Red Takes Fall Series, 10-2

The Red squad rode the long ball to a 10-2 victory to close out the title in the fall baseball series Sunday afternoon.

Krisjohn Wilkerson slammed a three-run homer to finish a four-run first to lead the Red squad to a 10-2 victory Sunday before a crowd of 175, including six dogs. It gave the Red squad the series, 3-2.

Wilkerson followed an RBI sacrifice fly by Blake Baxendale with a towering shot deep into the chair back seats behind the bullpen in left.

Redshirt freshman Parker Sanburn recorded his second victory of the series. The righthander from Kokomo, Ind., gave the Red squad four strong innings, allowing two runs on three hits. White starter Jake Smith took his second loss of the series.

"That was the big blow of the game," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said of the Wilkerson homer. "That took it from one to four runs, then the Red team did a good job of pitching out of trouble the rest of the way.

"The White team had some chances to get back into the game, but Sanburn made some good pitches and his team made all of the plays."

Bobby Wernes led the 14-hit Red attack with three hits and Andrew Benintendi, Josh Alberius and Wilkerson each added two. Alberius drove had a solo homer in the sixth and a two-run single in the seventh to put the game out of reach.

"Sanburn has had a good fall," Van Horn said. "He has a very good arm and he's got a good breaking ball. He has shown good command of his fast ball. He may can help us in the spring."

Van Horn was pleased with the fall, calling it maybe his most productive in 13 years at Arkansas.

"I just told the team that our first 35 days -- not counting this series -- was as good as wht we have had here," Van Horn said. "That first four or five weeks was outstanding.

"One of the factors was how much work we could get when we re-structured our workouts, using the new indoor facility. It's just a lot easier to format practices and we got so much more done.

"We are a lot better defensively. We fielded it well this fall. For this five-game series when we split the squad, we had a lot of guys playing out of position to try to make the teams even. But for the entire fall, our defense was outstanding."

Van Horn said it's been interesting to watch the battle at shortstop between Michael Bernal and Brett McAfee.

"It's one heckuva battle," he said. "Both of them could end up in the lineup, with one of them moving over to second. It's a good problem."

Another entertaining battle has been at catcher. Van Horn said, "We may have four or five there. It's so much better than we've had. A couple of years, I've run out of catchers here and I like this a lot better.

"Nathan Rodriguez had a great fall catching and throwing and Tucker Pennell had a day where he threw out five of five. He had a tremendous fall and showed some tenacity at the plate. He became a tough out. I think he may have led the White in hitting in this series (with a .375 average)."

As for the Sunday finale, in the Red first, Carson Shaddy singled and Max Hogan and Bret McAfee both walked. Baxendale hit a liner to deep center. Wilkerson followed with his long blast to left.

The White team scored single runs in the first and second. Tyler Spoon had an RBI single in the first. Rick Nomura added an RBI sacrifice fly in the second.

The Red extended the lead with single runs in the third, fifth and sixth. Bobby Wernes had a hit-and-run single for an RBI in the third, then plated another with a ground out in the fifth. Josh Alberius hit a solo homer in the sixth.

It got out of hand in the top of the seventh. Wilkerson singled, Wernes doubled when Keith Grieshaber's diving try for a liner near the line in right popped out of his glove. Nathan Rodriguez followed with an RBI single. Alberius plated two with a bouncer through the drawn-in infield.

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