State of the Hogs: Run Support

Arkansas gave Trey Killian a season's worth of runs to coast to an 18-4 victory over Missouri State in the first game of the Fayetteville Super Regional on Friday.

The support was finally there for gutsy Arkansas righthander Trey Killian on Friday at Baum Stadium. And, that's not a hint at a Baum Stadium record crowd of 11,869.

Remember, Killian is the junior from tiny Norfork used to toiling with no run support. He started the SEC season with seven perfect innings at Vanderbilt, but didn't get a victory. He led the league with four complete games last year, but lost two of them.

All of the pre-game hype went to Missouri State ace Jon Harris, the 6-4 righthander with the miniscule 1.85 ERA. The Hogs bashed Harris for a season-high eight earned runs on the way to an 18-4 victory to put them one victory away from Omaha.

Killian struggled to find the plate early, but gave the Hogs six strong innings as the Hogs roared to a 10-1 lead.

Harris was the guy with the perfect start, retiring the first nine batters. But when it went, it went in a hurry. The Hogs pounded Harris for nine hits, including Andrew Benintendi's 19th homer.

It was an intentional walk to load the bases to Benintendi that seemed to juice the Hogs in the fourth inning. Tyler Spoon followed with a two-run single through the right side to give them the lead for good. Joe Serrano, who started the fourth with a double, added an RBI double in the fifth. Serrano's three-run homer in the sixth set off the celebration for the packed crowd.

"Joe got that double and then we went on and on," said Dave Van Horn, who took over in the media room when his players were asked about needing one more victory for the trip to the College World Series.

"We don't talk about it, so they are not going to answer that one."

That was still better than Missouri State coach Keith Guttin did on most of his questions. Terse would be the right description for the way the 33-year veteran coach replied when asked about his post-game words to his team, one of eight national seeds. The Bears had won 19 straight.

"Those runs don't count when we start tomorrow," Guttin said.

Van Horn said, "Our guys understand we haven't accomplished anything yet. You gotta win two."

How do the Hogs handle that situation?

"We've been talking about it since Sunday night in Stillwater," Van Horn said. "We know how to handle it. We've got some older guys who will help the guys understand."

Guttin watched as the Hogs handled his ace.

"We won the first three innings, 1-0, then credit Arkansas because they made the adjustments the second time around and the guys we brought in didn't have an answer."

Harris said, "I didn't miss a barrel. Credit them, because they came out swinging. They hit everything. If I made a good pitch, they hit it. If I made a bad pitch, they hit it further. I left a hanging slider there for Benintendi and he deposited it."

Van Horn thought Killian settled in after the first two innings.

"He started getting ahead," Van Horn said. "He started mixing it up because they like to take a lot of pitches."

Serrano said, "Trey just competes. He left some two strike pitches up in the zone early, then he got them down. I think Trey was a little excited at the start and we all were. We saw that big crowd."

Asked if they finally gave Killian proper support, Serrano said, "We were just trying to compete. We try to do that every time. I remember at the regional last year at Kansas State and we were smoking it all over the park and we didn't get anything out of it. But honestly, you don't expect to get 18 when you go out there."

It was a nice change for Trey Killian.

A record crowd of 11,869 filled Baum Stadium on Friday.

Michael Bernal (3) helps congratulate Andrew Benintendi after a home run.

Benintendi follows through on his 19th home run.

Photos by Jason Ivester, Hawgs Illustrated

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