Hogs sweep opening series

No. 22 Arkansas scored eight runs over its final three innings at the plate and beat Central Michigan 9-4 Sunday in an eight-inning game at Baum Stadium. This story is free courtesy Northwest Arkansas Honda Dealers. Click the banner to learn more.

No. 22 Arkansas scored eight runs over its final three innings at the plate and beat Central Michigan 9-4 Sunday in an eight-inning game at Baum Stadium.

The game ended after the Chippewas batted in the top of the eighth inning because of a travel curfew. The teams agreed not to start an inning after 2:30 p.m., but went ahead and began the eighth inning a couple of minutes after the curfew.

Arkansas took the lead on Michael Bernal's two-run double with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Razorbacks put two runners on base with no outs in the inning, but a pair of pop-ups put pressure on Bernal to deliver. The shortstop lined a 1-1 fastball into left field and advanced to third base on a throw to home plate.

Bernal scored on an RBI single by Tucker Pennell in the next at-bat to extend the Razorbacks' lead to 6-3.

"I was just trying to get a pitch to find a way to get a runner in," Bernal said. "Right there I'm just thinking about getting a runner in. I got a fastball inside and just put a good swing on it."

Central Michigan put two runners on base with one out in the top of the seventh inning, but Arkansas reliever Kacey Murphy turned a double play to end the inning. Murphy caught a line-drive off the bat of Zach McKinstry and threw out Alex Borglin at first base.

"He is a pretty athletic pitcher and he made a nice play and pretty good throw to first," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "Another game-changing play. "It’s good to win all three ballgames because that’s a solid team. When they get it rolling a little bit they are going to run off a bunch of wins."

Murphy replaced Anthony Dahl, who struck out three batters in 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief after the Chippewas chased Arkansas starter Keaton McKinney in the fifth inning.

Central Michigan (0-3) scored three runs off McKinney in the top of the fifth inning to take a 3-1 lead. McKinney committed an error and allowed the first four Chippewas batters to reach base in the inning.

The right-hander gave up four hits and walked two in his first game after undergoing hip surgery last summer. He struck out one batter.

"Keaton had pretty good stuff for about two innings and then didn’t locate," Van Horn said. "Probably the biggest pitch for him was he made a mistake with an 0-2 pitch that was supposed to be an expanded fastball off the plate maybe a foot...and come back with something off-speed. Instead he threw it over the plate, they singe up the middle and then next thing you know we are down 3-1."

The Razorbacks tied the game 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning when Central Michigan committed three errors on one play.

Catcher Robert Greenman threw the ball into the outfield trying to pick-off a runner at first base. Right fielder Daniel Robinson didn't field the ball cleanly, allowing Pennell to score, and committed a throwing error that allowed Austin Catron to score from first base.

The Chippewas committed four errors Sunday and eight in the series.

"We had two innings that weren't very good," Central Michigan coach Steve Jaksa said. "Three errors on that one play with first and second, so that led to two runs they didn't even get a hit."

Luke Bonfield added a three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to extend the Razorbacks' lead to 9-3. Central Michigan scored a run in the eighth on a passed ball.

Arkansas scored the game's first run on Rick Nomura's sacrifice fly. Cullen Gassaway scored from third base after recording a one-out triple. 

Gassaway had a single to start the three-run sixth inning. He finished the game 2-for-3 before being pulled for a pinch-runner.

"I got a lot of good pitches to hit," Gassaway said. "We did a really good job of getting runners in scoring position all weekend."

Arkansas is scheduled to play Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday at 3 p.m.

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