Hogs Slide Past Minnesota

FAYETTEVILLE -- The second the ball left Clint Arnold's bat, Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn was certain he was going to send Scott Hode home from third base.

It was Arnold's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth which gave the Razorbacks a 5-4 win against Minnesota in Baum Stadium on a sunny Friday afternoon. The second game of the series is set for 1:05 p.m. today.

"It was a good win for us and a great ballgame all around," Van Horn said. "I'm sure it's going to be the same way the rest of the weekend."

Always the risk taker, Van Horn went against the odds when he sent Hode home with one out on a looping fly to short center field.

Had Gophers' center fielder Tony Leseman's throw not sailed wide to the third base side, Hode would have been nailed at the plate.

"(Leseman) took a little extra hop and he just airmailed it," Van Horn said. "He's got a good, accurate arm, but I think he may have been a little shocked that we ran."

Hode and most of the 4,134 in attendance -- a school record for home openers in Baum Stadium -- also were shocked that Van Horn gave the green light to run on such a short pop-up.

"I went back (to tag up) and I was kind of waiting to see what (Van Horn) was saying," said Hode, who walked to lead off the ninth and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch. "And he gave me the go, so I just gave it all I got to home plate. When I saw the catcher jump, it was a good feeling because I knew I was going to slide in safely."

Minnesota coach John Anderson signaled for an intentional walk of Hogs sophomore Danny Hamblin to get to Arnold, a true freshman.

"We knew Hamblin had some experience in those situations," Anderson said. "So we felt like we'd go ahead and walk him to go against one of the younger guys to see if we can get them out instead. But give Arnold credit, he got a pretty good fastball up in the zone and was able to make contact."

Arnold's seven-game hitting streak was snapped Friday, but he said he'd trade that for the win. He also said Gophers left-hander John Gaub, a preseason All-American who came in to to face the final two hitters, sported the best fastball (it topped out at 94 mph) he'd faced as a Razorback.

"He was throwing pretty hard," Arnold said. "He threw me a fastball that got in on me a little bit, but I got enough of it to get it out of the infield."

Arkansas took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when senior Scott Bridges hit a two-out single and stole second and third base before scoring on a single by Casey Rowlett. It was the only run the Hogs scored on three hits off Gophers' starter Josh Krogman, who threw 59 pitches in five innings.

"He was on a pitch count," Anderson said. "We're just trying to protect our guys' arms early in the season and he gave us a pretty good effort to keep us in the ball game early."

If Krogman hadn't have been on a pitch count, Arkansas may not have scored three runs off relievers Andy Peters and Matt Loberg to take a 4-3 lead in the sixth. Rowlett, Jake Dugger and Blake Parker each drove in a run in the inning.

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