Diamond Hogs Blow Out Flames

FAYETTEVILLE -- Scoring in each of the first seven innings, Arkansas' offense provided plenty of fireworks during Saturday's 15-4 blowout against Illinois-Chicago in front of a season-high crowd of 6,843 in Baum Stadium.

The biggest explosion came during a four-run first inning when Danny Hamblin cleared the bases with a three-run triple off the wall in right-center field. He came a few feet short of hitting the team's third grand slam as his opposite-field drive almost cleared the eight-foot fence.

"We've been asking (the players) for this," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "When are we going to put together three or four or five good innings in a row? When are we going to put some pressure on some people instead of just playing such tight games all the time?

"We've been talking about it because we know we've got some firepower that we hadn't really tapped into yet. "

It extended the No. 19 Razorbacks (11-1) winning streak to five games. The finale of the three-game series starts at 1:05 p.m. today.

"I don't think we really challenged them very much because we didn't execute very well," said Illinois-Chicago coach Mike Dee. "When you play a team like this and you're not mentally tough, you're going to get buried.

"And we really got buried (Saturday)."

After the Flames (0-7) took a 1-0 lead with the help of two errors in the first, freshman Clint Arnold lit a fuse for the Razorbacks with a leadoff double to right center. Scott Bridges then dragged a perfect bunt down the first-base line before Casey Rowlett reached on a walk to load the bases and set the stage for Hamblin, who was 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs.

"With guys on base, I was just trying to get it into the outfield," Hamblin said of his triple. "But the pitcher left it over the plate and I just went with it. Right now, my swing is right where I want it to be so everything seems to be falling for me."

The 15 runs on 14 hits were season highs as Arkansas scored in most every way possible with an array of bunts, bloopers and line drives off UIC starter Jason Foster, a 6-foot-5 right-hander.

"We just kept it rolling," Van Horn said. "We did a little bit of everything. We stole bases, got some two-strike hits, hit the ball in the gap and hit the ball out of the park. We just had a good day at the plate."

With the wind blowing out, Bridges hammered a solo homer, his second, down the right-field line in the fifth and Chris Hollensworth went deep for the first time as a Razorback with a two-run shot to left in the seventh.

Other offensive sparks were provided by Clay Goodwin (2-for-3, 3 RBIs), Craig Gentry (2-for-5, 2 runs scored) and John Marquardt (1-for-5, 2 RBIs).

"We needed this," Hamblin said. "Coach Van Horn has been on us to really go out and beat somebody by putting a bunch of runs up and that's what we did."

All four Flames' runs were unearned off Hogs starter Charley Boyce, who recorded his second win despite the defense tying a season-high with four errors behind him.

"They were tough plays that really didn't hurt us too much," Van Horn said. "We're going to play good defense, but if that's going to happen, at least it came on a day when we really swung the bats well."

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