Stepping outdoors for the first time this winter, North Dakota provided some spunk in the season opener Friday afternoon at Baum Stadium. But it was No. 16 Arkansas with the answer in a 11-4 victory before a crowd of 3,785.
North Dakota, formerly the Fighting Sioux, did break on top in the third with three runs against when UA starter James Teague lost his control. But the Hogs responded with two in the bottom of the frame, then answered a single run in the sixth with three runs in the bottom to spark the rout.
Arkansas, down 4-3 going to bat in the sixth, scored eight unanswered runs to end the game, pounding out 18 hits. All nine UA starters got at least one hit.
Leadoff batter Clark Eagan filled up the box score. Bothered by a shoulder sprain three weeks ago, Eagan had three hits, three runs and three RBI. He had a double to the warning track in the third, then a two-run double to the gap in right to give the Hogs the lead in the sixth.
Shortstop Brett McAfee, rebounding from a back injury last year, had three hits and scored one run. Joe Serrano and Bobby Wernes each added two hits.
“A lot of guys got their first hit out of the way,” Eagan said. “We did a great job of punching back in the two innings they scored and Coach (Dave) Van Horn likes to see that. We know we have a good offense, our pitching staff is good and is going to keep us in the game and we can play defense.”
North Dakota did not play good defense. Stuck in their indoor facility since beginning the semester in snowy Grand Forks, the team without a nickname committed four errors. The Hogs, outside for most of the last month, played errorless baseball.
“We've talked about our defense,” Van Horn said. “I've said we are going to be better defensively. We did not have a lot of tough chances, but our pitchers walked and hit batters and we couldn't afford mistakes.”
Indeed, North Dakota stranded nine runners with a combination of seven hits and five walks and two hit batters. Teague walked two and hit a batter, all in the third.
Keaton McKinney entered after Teague walked in a batter. He gave up a single and a sacrifice fly, but got the last out and was solid in three more innings.
Cannon Chadwick got the victory, retiring four batters. Freshman Jonah Patten sparkled in recording the last six outs, five by strikeout.
“We had Jacob Stone up, but when we got the big lead, we sat him down,” Van Horn said. “Jonah can be a little wild, but he has a big-time arm. He settled in.”
A doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 11:35 a.m. Saturday, with cold weather moving up the Sunday game. The Hogs are scheduled to start Dominic Taccolini in the opener.
“If Zach Jackson doesn't pitch in the first game, he'll start the second game,” Van Horn said. “I thought we did a nice job today of staying under control when they got the lead. Teague was nervous and he lost his release point. That's definitely not him. He's not wild up. When he misses, he misses down.
“I thought McKinney, Chadwick and Patten all did a nice job. Our hitters did a nice job.
“Eagan has been swinging it good so he doesn't surprise me. He did well in the fall after an injury and he picked it up again of late after another injury. He's a good hitter.”
North Dakota starter Andrew Thome took the loss. He was solid through five innings, but tired after getting to 90 pitches. UND coach Jeff Dodson left him in for 108 pitches. He gave up 11 hits and six earned runs.
“He's 6-4 and had a good downward motion, kept the ball down,” Van Horn said. “We told our guys to make him elevate it and when we did we were able to see it a little better.”
Reliever Reid Jungling gave up seven hits, five runs in his two plus innings.
"We got beat on pitches that were up in the zone and in the middle of the plate," Dodson said. "Our lefty that came in, he’s better than he pitched today. [Arkansas] was able to adjust and hit some of those pitches. They are a very athletic, a fast-playing ball club.
"We play hard. We didn’t quit. We still had base runners until the end of the game. When you play a great club like Arkansas it’s hard to recover after the pitches that we left up and the mistakes we made.
"I’m proud of my kids. We played six strong innings. Let’s shoot for seven, eight nine and get a complete game in."
Hogs Win Opener, 11-4
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