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Arkansas sweeps doubleheader against Grand Canyon

Arkansas swept its doubleheader against Grand Canyon on Wednesday.

FAYETTEVILLE -- After sleeping on a 2-0 lead with the bases loaded, Arkansas didn't have any problems with Grand Canyon in Game 1 of Wednesday's doubleheader.

The Razorbacks added a run on a sacrifice fly when Tuesday's game resumed and piled on eight more runs as they beat the Antelopes 11-2.

Arkansas blew the game open with a pair of home runs in the third inning.

Jared Gates led off the inning with a solo home run - the first of his UA career - into the right field bullpen. Two batters later, Eric Cole crushed a 3-1 pitch over the right field bullpen for a two-run homer.

"It felt great," Gates said. "I don't really try to hit home runs, but it was good to get the first one."

Those hits pushed the Razorbacks' lead to 6-0. Grand Canyon scored runs in the fifth and sixth innings, but Arkansas added four in the seventh and one in the eighth to create the final margin.

Arkansas' late-inning scoring burst was highlighted by a stand-up RBI triple by Chad Spanberger. He hit the ball literally as far as he possibly could without it leaving the ballpark, as it bounced off the top of the centerfield wall and back into play.

Over his last seven games, Spanberger is 13 for 34 (.382) with a double, triple, home run and eight RBIs. He leads the team in batting average over that span.

Weston Rogers earned the victory for Arkansas. He allowed one earned run on two hits while striking out three in three innings.

Game 2 of the doubleheader is scheduled to start at 5:15 p.m., with sophomore left-hander Kacey Murphy starting for the Razorbacks.

Game 2 - Arkansas 6, Grand Canyon 1

The Razorbacks (24-6) tied a school record with 18 strikeouts and beat Grand Canyon 6-1 to sweep the doubleheader.

Murphy scattered five hits across four scoreless innings for Arkansas to earn the victory. His last nine outs were via strikeout and he finished with a career-high 10.

"I had a lot of strikeouts on fastballs," Murphy said. "That's what I did, I attacked with a fastball. I recognized early that they sat on pitches in certain counts and I could work with a fastball more than I usually do."

Relievers Evan Lee, Josh Alberius, Matt Cronin and Brenden Heiss each had two.

The 18 strikeouts matched the Razorbacks' record set against Missouri State on March 25, 2009.

"I thought they did a tremendous job all day," head coach Dave Van Horn said. "For us to go out and throw the ball the way we did up and down the staff there was tremendous.

"I didn't realize we had struck out 18 batters until the game was over. I knew it was up there a little bit. I figured it was 15 or 16, max. It was pretty impressive."

Offensively, Carson Shaddy got things rolling with a solo home run in the second. Alex Gosser added a run with a two-out RBI double later in the inning to give Arkansas all of the offense it needed. However, the Razorbacks added four more runs, highlighted by a two-out, two-run double by Gates in the fifth.

Since going 0 for 6 in his first two games after coming back from a hand injury, Gates is 7 for 15 (.467) with a couple of doubles and the home run in Game 1.

"He hit the ball hard today," Van Horn said. "He squared up some balls and it was good to see him hit a home run and a big double with two outs that jumped that lead up from 3-0 to 5-0. That was probably the biggest hit of the game."

The Antelopes' lone run came on a homer by Garrison Schwartz off Lee in the sixth.

Arkansas returns to action this weekend for a three-game series against LSU beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m. It is the first top-15 matchup at Baum Stadium since the schools met in 2013, when the Tigers won 2 of 3.

"I was raised to hate LSU, so it's a big deal for me and my family," said Shaddy, a Fayetteville native. "I try to show it as much as I can through my passion for the game and for this university. You'll see a lot of passion this weekend."


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