SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Arkansas took out its frustrations from the weekend at Hammons Field.
After blowing a seven-run lead on Saturday and being shutout for 13 consecutive innings in a series loss to Missouri, the Razorbacks (26-8) racked up a season-high 18 hits and beat Missouri State 12-4 on Tuesday.
“I felt like we were going to score some runs,” head coach Dave Van Horn said. “I didn’t know we’d score this many. I figured we’d bounce back.”
It was also a payback game for Arkansas, who lost both midweek matchups with the Bears (21-11) last season by a combined score of 22-8.
Here is a snapshot of the win:
Through three innings, Arkansas and Missouri State were locked in a 2-2 tie, but the Razorbacks broke it open with a five-run fourth inning.
A pair of defensive gaffes aided the explosion by Arkansas. After Jaxon Williams reached on a leadoff walk and Jordan McFarland singled, Van Horn asked Jax Biggers to lay down a bunt.
He delivered with a two-strike bunt in front of the plate, but Missouri State catcher Drew Millas’ throw was off line and he reached safely.
With the bases loaded, Jake Arledge hit a grounder to second. A run was going to score to give the Razorbacks the lead regardless, but it seemed like the Bears would get a double play out of it.
Instead, Arledge beat the throw at first and, after Van Horn protested and the umpires conferred amongst themselves, it was ruled that Biggers avoided the second baseman’s tag.
“We thought it wasn’t even close,” Van Horn said about the play. “I went over to him and the second base umpire kind of acted like he knew he missed it because he said, ‘Are you appealing?’
“I said, ‘Oh yea. In our opinion, he didn’t even come close to touching him.’ And they got together and made the right call.”
Everyone was safe and eventually scored on Chad Spanberger’s two-run double and Luke Bonfield’s RBI single, giving Arkansas a 7-2 lead.
Koch Ends Slump
During much of the first half of the season, Grant Koch played at an All-SEC caliber level for the Razorbacks.
However, his batting average dipped close to .300 after a 3 for 20 stretch over Arkansas’ last six games.
Koch responded with a solid day at the plate. He went 3 for 3 with three singles and a pair of walks, reaching base in all five plate appearances.
“He stayed over some pitches,” Van Horn said. “He didn’t try to do too much. We need to get him rolling a little bit and get the middle of the lineup going.”
Koch’s day included an RBI infield single off the pitcher’s leg in the first inning to get the Razorbacks on the board and an RBI single in the seventh, capping Arkansas’ scoring.
“I’ve been seeing the ball pretty good lately, just not getting all the hits that I want,” Koch said. “Just keep seeing it well, keep putting good at bats together is all that really matters to me.”
Before Arkansas exploded to put the game away, Missouri State was hanging with the Razorbacks thanks to its usual suspects.
Jake Burger hit a two-out solo home run in the first inning and Jeremy Eierman followed Burger’s two-out double in the third with an RBI double of his own. Both were game-tying hits at the time.
From that point on, though, they went a combined 0 for 5 with three strikeouts.
“Burger and Eierman at 3 and 4, they’re as good as you’re going to see in the country,” Van Horn said. “A lot of power and a good approach.
“We didn’t get Burger out the first two times he was up, but then we finally got him a little bit. He’s an outstanding hitter.”
The pair’s 25 combined home runs are the most by teammates in Division I and both were thorns in Arkansas’ side last year.
Burger went 3 for 5 with four RBIs and was a double shy of the cycle in Missouri State’s 14-6 win in Springfield, while Eierman went 5 for 5 with two home runs and four RBIs in the Bears’ 8-2 win at Baum Stadium.
Missouri State’s designated hitter, Matt Brown, originally signed with Arkansas coming out of St. John Vianney High School in St. Louis, but transferred to Jefferson College after just one semester.
He ended up with the Bears and made his ninth start of the season Tuesday, going 0 for 3 with a walk and two strikeouts.
The performance was a continuation of a season-long slump, dropping his batting average to a miniscule .050 (1 for 20) with 14 strikeouts.
Stats to Know
-Tuesday’s win should give Arkansas a nice boost in the RPI because Missouri State was RPI No. 23 and it came on the road. The Razorbacks entered the day at No. 28.
-Dominic Taccolini pitched one inning in relief Tuesday, striking out all three batters he faced on only 15 pitches. “We’ve seen that in spurts a lot this year from Dom,” Koch said. “His stuff was as good as I’ve seen it all year. That’s really good to see going into the weekend.”
-Two of Arkansas’ runs came on RBI triples by Biggers and Bonfield. The last time Arkansas had multiple triples in the same game was against Mississippi Valley State on Feb. 23 last year.
-Koch was one of three Razorbacks with three hits and multiple RBIs. Spanberger went 3 for 4 with a double, two walks and three RBIs, while Bonfield went 3 for 6 with a triple and three RBIs.
Arkansas returns to Baum Stadium for a three-game series against Georgia (15-19, 4-8 SEC) beginning Thursday.
The series was originally scheduled to begin Friday, but the UA worked with the SEC and Georgia to move it up a day so they wouldn’t play on Easter Sunday.
Typically, games are played on Thursday to accommodate the SEC Network, but all three games against the Bulldogs will only be streamed on SEC Network+.
Thursday – 6:30 p.m.
Friday – 6 p.m.
Saturday – 2 p.m.