Fanning The Flames

FAYETTEVILLE -- It was broom day again in Baum Stadium with Arkansas doing the spring cleaning by sweeping a three-game series against Illinois-Chicago with a 9-2 win Sunday.

Several of the 6,389 in attendance brought their own brooms to help on a warm, windy day, but the No. 19 Razorbacks (12-1) didn't need much.

Instead of brooms, Arkansas used aluminum bats and relief pitching to extinguish the Flames (0-8) by the seventh inning.

"They're going to be a very tough ballclub to beat all year," said Illinois-Chicago coach Mike Dee. "I think they're extremely well-coached and play exactly the way the coaches want them to play. They're very well-disciplined and they compete really well.

"The best thing they do is they recover from mistakes and do a great job of refocusing to take care of the task at hand."

It was Jake Dugger's two-run homer which put the game out of reach in the seventh inning. For good measure, the Razorbacks added three more runs in the eighth with Scott Bridges' two-run double creating the final margin.

"We felt like our pitchers were doing a good job of slowing them down," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "So we were just trying to get a few more runs to put us in a little better shape and when Jake hit the home run, we felt pretty good about the game."

Dugger said he simply was trying to spark something with the Hogs clinging to a 4-2 lead. It was his second homer and sliced around the left-field foul pole.

"I knew it was gone when I hit it," Dugger said. "It was just a matter of was it going to stay fair or foul, and it was fair. We wanted to just keep putting more and more runs up to keep (the Flames) down."

Reliever Shaun Seibert, a true freshman, threw two pitches to get two outs and escaped a fifth-inning jam created by starter Josh Smith, who exited with two runners on and one out. Seibert allowed just one hit while striking out five in 4 2/3 shutout innings.

Van Horn even said he'd likely give Seibert his first start next Sunday against Eastern Illinois at home.

"The bright spot was Seibert, I thought he was tremendous," Van Horn said. "He's a guy we recruited to be a (Southeastern) conference starter in the future, but the future may be sooner than later."

Arkansas plated a pair of runs in the second inning when walks to Dugger and Clay Goodwin led to consecutive RBI singles by Scott Hode and Chris Hollensworth.

After UIC's Mike Bruszer drove in a run in the third, the Hogs answered with another RBI single by Hode in the fourth to increase the lead to 3-1.

The Hogs committed two of their three errors to help the Flames pick up another run in the fifth. But Dugger drove in a run on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning to make it 4-2.

"It was kind of ugly," Van Horn said. "We had a couple of bad hops and laid back on a couple of balls.

"I don't think it was our best effort by any means, but it was great to get a win."

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