Hode Ends Long RBI Drought

FAYETTEVILLE -- Perhaps it was fitting that Arkansas shortstop Scott Hode picked Sunday to have his prayers answered.

Call it devine intervention.

A late-arriving church crowd on a sun-drenched Sunday was just the inspiration Hode needed to deliver a strong message in Arkansas' 9-2 win against Illinois-Chicago in front of 6,389 fans in Baum Stadium.

And just what prayers were answered?

First, he returned to the starting lineup. Second, he finally started driving in runs again.


Hode went 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs and drove in his first run since Feb. 12 in an 8-1 win against Dallas Baptist on the road.

"Yeah, I know how long it's been," Hode said. "I can remember the last time it happened."

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn couldn't.

"Oh really, I didn't even realize that," Van Horn said. "That's unusual because he's been pretty good about driving in runs. Even last year, he was the guy driving in runs and we finally moved him to the cleanup spot.

"Maybe he's snapping out of it."

Van Horn said the lack of RBIs had nothing to do with Hode not starting Saturday when the No. 19 Razorbacks beat UIC 15-4.

"I just wanted to get (John) Marquardt in the lineup at short in case Hode gets hurt or something," Van Horn said. "You know, sometimes last year, Hode got tired at the end of the year because we didn't really have anyone else to play that position, plus I want to keep people fresh down the stretch."

Hode, who's started 12 of 13 games, looked refreshed on Sunday. His RBI drought ended in the second inning when he drove in Jake Dugger. His second one was a bunt single in the fourth which scored Danny Hamblin.

"It felt good because we've had guys on base before and I wasn't doing much about it," Hode said. "I said today, before the game, ‘If I have some men on, I'm going to get it done.'

"I just got some good hits at the right times."

Dugger said he wasn't surprised.

"We knew he would come around," Dugger said. "We don't have any doubts about him getting it done when we need him. It's all about getting hits with runners on base and he'll come around.

"He started doing that today. We need him in our lineup to drive in runs. I think he can be a .300 hitter, or near it, for us this season.

"We're not worried."

Hode, who hit .293 last year with a team-leading 53 RBIs, didn't seem to panic over the RBI drought.

"You can't worry about it," said Hode, who's hitting .373 with 4 RBIs. "That's baseball. You just have to stick with things and they'll all work out if you do that. You have to keep trying.

"Maybe things are going to start turning around." Razorbacks catcher Brian Walker said he has no doubt Hode will be equal to the task.

"You know, it's funny, Hode is always swinging like he's in the game," Walker said. "He's always the last one here, hitting in the cage. The hard work has paid off. All the hard work he has put in shows in the games.

"It's good because now he's going to be on a roll. Maybe he was pressing a little bit, I don't know. Now he finally gets an RBI and things should start falling for him.

"Now he might go on a tear."

Van Horn said Hode certainly is capable to do that.

"We need his bat in the order," Van Horn said. "He's hitting No. 7 in the order. A lot of times in the second inning, he's the fourth hitter and we need a guy who can drive in runs. You're going to be in those situations. You've got to drive in those runs.

"That's what's it's all about, driving people in."

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