Arkansas Designated Hitter Finds His Swing Again

FAYETTEVILLE -- Suddenly, the baseball has started jumping off Danny Hamblin's bat like passengers on he Titanic.

Hamblin, statistically sinking at the plate last week, buoyed his team to yet another come-from-behind win Friday afternoon. Yeah, he wasn't about to go down with this ship. Hamblin's successful swings as a designated hitter helped rally No. 19 Arkansas to a 7-4 win against Illinois-Chicago on Friday afternoon in Baum Stadium. For starters, Hamblin's solo home run in the fourth inning cut UIC's lead to 2-1. More importantly, his bloop RBI-single to right field kept a rally alive in the eighth. Hamblin, a freshman All-American last year, finished by going 3-for-4, with 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored. In the process, the Rowlett, Texas, native lifted his batting average from .250 to .305. Not a bad day's work. His homer, to left-center field, gave 3,318 Arkansas fans their first reason to cheer on this breezy, bright afternoon. Bravo. "It was a 1-0 pitch," Hamblin said. "The at-bat before, I missed on another 1-0 pitch and I came in here and (UA volunteer assistant) coach (Steven) Bell said, ‘Make sure and get that bat head out.' I came back up, I had another 1-0 pitch, it was a fastball. "It was a mistake and I hit it out of the ballpark." So what happened in the eighth? "On that at-bat I got a curveball, a pretty good curveball, a hanging curveball and should have hit that one," Hamblin said. "Then I got down two strikes and I just knew I had to put this ball into play somewhere. It was outside, the umpire was calling them a foot outside today, so I was swinging at anything close and kept the inning going. "Finally, things started to fall today. I had a jam shot earlier and got a single. I guess things are working out." Razorbacks teammate and fellow sophomore Jake Dugger knew they would. "That's good for Danny," Dugger said. "He's just got to stay positive. We all know he's a great player and that he's going to start producing hits and runs and RBIs at times for us. "He just needs to get a couple of hits, a couple bloops can get you going. Last Sunday (when Hamblin went 2-for-4 in a 4-3 win against Minnesota in Baum Stadium) he came out of whatever funk he was in. "He's ready." Hamblin might just be. "I'm just trying, right now, to get my swing down on a consistent basis, repeat it," Hamblin said. " ... Coach (Matt) Deggs (Razorbacks hitting coach) has been working on something that works. "Hopefully, this will work the reason of the season." Deggs is banking on it. "It's just a matter of Danny finding his timing," Deggs said. "He's getting closer to that everyday. He's a guy we have to have swinging the bat for us. He brings a powerful presence to the middle of that order. When Danny gets comfortable, he's a tough out. It was a matter of him finding his timing, making a couple of small adjustments and he's taking off with it." Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn liked hearing that. "Yeah, he had a couple of big hits, a couple of seeing-eye singles," Van Horn said. "One was a big hit which got us a run finally in a game we were getting shutout in and he needs some confidence. I think that's what he needs and I think he's starting to feel it a little bit. He knows when he goes to the plate, he's got a great opportunity to get a hit. "That's what you need in a hitter."

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