Diamond Hogs Please Record Crowd Again

FAYETTEVILLE -- OK, it's a cliché but everyone does love a winner.

That's a perfect explanation why a record 7,932 fans showed up to watch No. 18 Arkansas hammer Eastern Illinois 12-1 in Baum Stadium on a bright, warm Saturday.

That crowd was the largest to witness a college baseball game in a regular-season nonconference contest in school history.

A record 6,843 showed up on the exact day last weekend and that number was eclipsed by 1,089 on Saturday.

Arkansas is gonna need a bigger boat.

"That's the plan," said Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn. "Wow, what a crowd."

And judging by the ever-increasing traffic jams on Razorback Road and other pavements leading to Baum Stadium on game day, Arkansas is getting more than its share of street credit.

Van Horn was almost speechless.

"I don't know what to say," Van Horn said. "I was predicting 6,000 just because it was such a nice day. We're getting almost 8,000 here for a nonconference game.

"I'd be interested to see what happens when we get into (Southeastern) conference games ... Mississippi State here in a couple of weeks.

"If we have good weather, what are we going to get? We may have 10,000 people here.

"Where we going to put them?"

Well, it probably won't be on the base paths because it seemed all day they were occupied by Razorbacks players.

Arkansas played small ball and long ball, banging out 13 hits, including home runs by Scott Hode, Jake Dugger and Danny Hamblin.

Oh, and Hode and Hamblin added a double apiece for good measure. Arkansas (15-1) won its 10th-straight game while scoring four runs in the seventh inning to seal the deal.

Meanwhile on the mound, Charley Boyce (3-1) pitched 8 strong innings -- the most by any Hogs pitcher this season -- and shaved his earned run average from 4.91 to 3.15.

Boyce threw 102 pitches, allowed 5 hits, walked 1 and struck out 4. The only blemish on his Saturday resume was an eighth-inning homer to left by Joe Hernandez, who drew boos for rounding the bases to slowly.

"That's the Charley we know," said Razorbacks second baseman Scott Bridges, who went 2-for-3 with an RBI and 3 stolen bases. "That's the Charley that took us to the College World Series last year.

"That's big for him to get it going before conference next weekend (against South Carolina on the road)."

Hamblin agreed.

"Oh yeah, he pitched great," Hamblin said. "Really, he's done a great job all year so it's not like we have to put up 10 runs for him when he pitches like that."

Scoring runs though has become commonplace. Like Saturday.

How did it happen?

"We had the right guys on base early that could cause a little bit of havoc," Van Horn said. "They're such a threat to run, threat to bunt, opens up that infield a little bit. That's part of the running game, that it's a threat. Not that you're doing it all the time but that it's a possibility."

In a nutshell, how was another win possible?

"They hit it, we fielded it," Van Horn said. "It was one of our best games all the way around.

"We really didn't punch in many runs until the middle of the game. I was glad to see the way our bats came around again for the most part."

Realistically, Boyce probably was the biggest storyline, especially with Arkansas on the brink of SEC play.

His timing was perfect.

"Yeah, this is about when he got started getting going last year," Van Horn said. "He was really sharp. He was really spotting his fastball on the outside corner, pitching that change-up in, just did a tremendous job.

"He was ahead of the hitters."

Boyce nodded.

"My fastball was working for me, curveball came around later," Boyce said. "You know, they came out swinging. I wasn't throwing a whole lot of pitches early today.

"That's what allowed me to go eight innings."

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