Although it felt like he was throwing snowballs at first, Arkansas starter Dominic Taccolini never really let Eastern Illinois have too much winter fun on Monday.
Taccolini (2-1) allowed just two hits and one run while fanning four, walking two and hitting a pair of batters in six innings while working out some jams as the Razorbacks downed the Panthers 4-1 in the first game of a doubleheader at Baum Stadium.
"His stuff was very good," Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. "The jams he got in were self-inflicted for the most part. That was the bad part of it. The good part of it was he worked his way out of it...They don't square him up real good. That ball's sinking and diving all over the place. But he did show the knack to be able to get out of a jam. Hopefully, he'll command the strike zone just a little bit better next week."
It was the first time in eight days that the Razorbacks had played - the longest time in-season dating back to 1984 - and the first pitch happen with the temperature at 34 degrees.
“It was definitely great (to get outside),” Taccolini said. “Baseball is a fun game and it is hard not to play for eight days. That’s definitely the longest we have not played since 1984. It was definitely good to get back out there.
“…The weather really wasn’t too big of a deal,” Taccolini added. “We practice in the stuff before last year. Our first practice was like 30 degrees so it really wasn’t too big a deal. I just had to make sure my hands were warm in the dugout. Other than that I was fine.”
Arkansas eight-place hitter Bobby Wernes upped his average to .524 by going 2-for-2 with a walk and two RBIs while Clark Eagan added an RBI single.
“That’s awesome,” Taccolini said. “He is such a leader on the field and to see him like hitting really well is great. Last year he kind of struggled, but so far this year he has done a really good job.
“To have someone hitting .500 in the eight hole, that is really good for the team,” Taccolini added. “He has been driving people in and also starting innings off really well.”
Taccolini admits his warm tosses were a little erratic.
“As you can tell my first warm up pitch, I had to kind of toss it in there because I didn’t had a good grip, but other than that I found it and just let a couple rip just to feel like somewhat of a game situation,” Taccolini said.
After a 1-2-3 start to the game, Taccolini had base runners in each of the last five innings he pitched.
His only run allowed came on Mitch Gasbarro’s sacrifice fly in the sixth that cut the Razorbacks’ lead to 2-1.
“I feel it has it positives and negatives,” Taccolini said of his performance. “You definitely don’t want to hit two or three people and walk two, but I feel like I battled whenever I had bad innings and came back and got out of jams, which was good.
“I felt like there were some inning where I threw really well and some innings that I hit some people and some bad stuff happened, but other than that I think I responded pretty well,” Taccolini said.
Wernes gave Arkansas its 2-0 lead in the second when his single to left plated both Chad Spanberger and Rick Nomura.
The Razorbacks pushed their lead to 4-1 in the sixth when Tyler Spoon doubled and eventually scored on a balk and Eagan delivered his two-out single.
Jacob Stone pitched the seventh for his first save of the year while giving up a hit, walking one and fanning one.
The game ended on Matt Dunivant’s line drive to Wernes at third, who quickly doubled up Isaac Sampen off second.
The two teams had their games canceled on Saturday and Sunday due to the snow, which the Razorbacks themselves cleared off the field on Monday.
There were a few snowball fights that broke out.
“We did, but Coach Jorn kind of stopped that stopped that before it got started,” Taccolini said.
It was a tiring process according to Taccolini, a sophomore from Sugar Land, Texas.
“Maybe a little bit,” Taccolini said. “There’s a little fatigue. I was kind of helping and Coach (Van Horn) told me to calm down a little bit. My back was maybe a little tight, but other than that it was fine. We were just ready to get on the field and play.
“…It wasn’t bad,” Taccolini added later. “It was definitely good to have some work and kind of humbling, definitely fun so we could just get out there and play."
?Arkansas had originally had been scheduled to California for a four-game series starting last Thursday, but that was canceled and Eastern Illinois came to Fayetteville for the weekend.
“It kind of sucked not playing Cal, but you have got an opponent on there other side so as long as we get to play it is okay,” Taccolini said.
Bobby Wernes had two hits and two RBIs to lift to his average to .524 for the season
Arkansas 4, Eastern Illinois 1
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