Benintendi bounces back in opener

Arkansas' top player rebounded in a big way Friday.

STILLWATER, Okla. -- Arkansas' top player rebounded in a big way Friday.

Andrew Benintendi had three hits and accounted for four runs in the Razorbacks' 8-6 win over Oral Roberts.

Benintendi, who was named national player of the year by Collegiate Baseball on Thursday, had singles in the first and eighth innings, and a double in the sixth inning. The two-run double off ORU reliever Hayden Holly gave Arkansas a 4-3 lead.

He scored on Tyler Spoon's double in the next at-bat, helping the Razorbacks to a four-run sixth inning. Benintendi also scored on Clark Eagan's eighth inning triple, extending Arkansas' lead to five runs.

"It was good to see him hit that ball through the middle in the first inning even though there were two outs and nobody was on, and we were down 2-0," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "It was good for him to get that base hit, probably relax a little bit. Obviously we're over there thinking he might have a good day and he did."

Benintendi struggled at last week's SEC Tournament, going 1-for-14 in four games. His only hit was a solo home run in the ninth inning of a comeback win over Florida.

After batting .415 in the regular season, his batting average dropped 24 points in the Razorbacks' four SEC Tournament games. He went 0-for-5 in a game against Tennessee, snapping his streak of 26 consecutive games reaching base.

He raised his average back to .398 Friday, recording his eighth three-hit game of the season.

"He played like (national player of the year), there's no question about that," Oral Roberts coach Ryan Folmar said. "He was really good offensively; obviously had several hits today and he took a couple away.

"He's an outstanding player."

Benintendi's defense was almost as notable as his offense Friday.

The sophomore robbed ORU's top hitter, Anthony Sequeira, of a hit in the fifth inning. With a runner on first base, Benintendi appeared to get a late jump on a ball to deep center field, but was able to run it down for the second out.

He also had to cover a lot of ground on Chase Stafford's deep fly ball to end the sixth inning.

"I thought the two plays he made in centerfield, he made them look pretty easy," Folmar said. "Both balls had a chance to get over his head and he made it look pretty easy."

Van Horn said both catches were made more difficult because the outfield was saturated by several days of rain. Benintendi called the outfield "a swamp" and Tyler Spoon fell when he tripped on a sinkhole while chasing Sequeira's ninth inning home run.

"Andrew did a good job by just staying under control, tracking them and I know one of them looked like it almost got over his head," Van Horn said. "He makes it look a lot easier sometimes than it really is. A lot of the good center fielders do that, but those were big plays."

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