Scoreboard Shot Gives Hogs Win
After the Razorbacks (10-1) trailed for seven-plus innings, Goodwin's blast proved to be the winning hit in Friday's 7-4 victory against Illinois-Chicago (0-6) in front of 3,318 in Baum Stadium. Game 2 of the three-game series begins at 1:05 p.m. today.
"We came out a little flat," Goodwin said. "But this, coming from behind like we did, shows the resilience of this team. Good teams can come from behind and that's what we want to be, a good team."
Goodwin, who entered Friday hitting .229, jumped all over a chest-high fastball on the first pitch he saw in the eighth to erase a 4-1 Flames' lead. It was his first homer and only hit third extra-base hit in 39 at-bats.
"It let a little pressure off my shoulders when I was running around first and saw it hit the scoreboard," Goodwin said. "It was just good to finally do something when we needed it."
Credit the Flames for the lack of early production by the Razorbacks. They played flawless defense behind 6-foot-5 starting pitcher Ryan Zink, who kept the Hogs off balance with a 90-plus mph fastball and a sneaky changeup.
"We did not play very well, but we never quit," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "We thought we had a chance because we've got some kids that are pretty tough mentally and they hung in there."
Goodwin's homer came on Zink's 118th pitch. He was relieved one batter later after allowing six earned runs on 11 hits with two walks and a strikeout.
"Ryan made a lot of mistakes all day," said Illinois-Chicago coach Mike Dee. "He was up in the zone and he got away with a lot of pitches early in the ballgame. But it caught up to him late."
Every time the Razorbacks appeared to be rallying, UCI's defense came through with a clutch play.
Arkansas' Scott Hode led off the fourth with a single and it was followed by a double off the left-field wall by John Marquardt. But Flames' shortstop Jeff Gremley threw Hode out at home on a grounder by Clint Arnold before starting an inning-ending double play on a ground ball by Casey Rowlett.
In the sixth, Danny Hamblin hit a one-out single and moved to second on a balk by Zink. But Goodwin lined out to first baseman Mark Hallberg, who wisely tossed the ball to second to double up Hamblin and end the threat.
"Considering this is only the sixth day we've been outside, I'm pretty pleased with the way we're playing defensively," Dee said. "I thought we competed pretty well. They're obviously a great club and they're going to make you play nine innings of great baseball (to win) and we didn't do that."
UIC jumped out to a 2-0 lead with runs in the second and third innings. Bryan Russo clubbed his first homer this season with a solo shot to left in the second while Gremley, who reached on a leadoff walk, scored on a fielding error in the third.
Russo's homer was the only hit allowed by Hogs starter Nick Schmidt in six innings. The freshman allowed two earned runs with three walks and two strikeouts. After some middle relief work by Daryl Maday and Lee Land, senior Trey Holloway came on in the ninth to record the final two outs for his team-best third save.
Hamblin put the home team on the board with a towering solo homer to left-center field, but the Flames added to their lead in the seventh when Bryan Nolte and Larry Gempp each driving in a run to make it 4-1.
Heading into the seventh inning still trailing by three runs, Van Horn sat his team down in the dugout and instructed them not to give in.
"I just told them not to panic," Van Horn said. "Nothing was going our way. We've lined out, made base running mistakes and we're still in this ballgame. The wind is blowing out, we just need to get some base runners on so we can just find a way to score.
"We were just trying to stay positive as much as anything and it worked out."
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