Razorbacks Catcher Has Big Night At Plate

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. --  Brian Walker touched them all. Twice. In back-to-back innings.

And though it's not time to start plastering Walker's picture on the cover of a box of Wheaties, it's certainly something to think about in the future.

The Razorbacks catcher looked like legitimate sports superstar for one particular day in history.

Strike the pose.

Walker, a sturdy 6-foot, 215-pound freshman, muscled two home runs -- one about a $5 cab ride from home plate --in back-to-back innings.

That more than helped lead No. 14 Arkansas to a 9-4 win against Southwest Missouri State in front of 3,415 fans on Tuesday night at Hammons Field.

Walker's seventh-inning two-out grand slam which landed on the Southwest Missouri clubhouse in right field was the biggest difference maker.

Walker, who went 2-for-4 with 5 RBIs, left little doubt this one was about to be over soon.

"Brian just kept his hands inside on the ball and boy did a good job," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "It was a big hit. He had another earlier in the game."

In the sixth, Walker gave the Hogs some breathing room by clubbing his fourth home run of the season. This one went into the SMS bullpen in left field to push Arkansas in front 5-3.

"Coaches are continuing to stay positive about me and I've been working hard and things are just paying off," Walker said. "The coaches never gave up on me. I struggled at first but now I've got some confidence.

"I got a couple of hits last Sunday and that helped my confidence a lot, too. Tonight, I just got some more confidence with the night I had." Razorbacks reliever Daryl Maday (5-0) also had a productive night. Maday pitched 3 strong innings. He allowed 3 hits, 2 runs, walked 1 and struck out 5.

"Daryl gave us a chance," Van Horn said. "He got into a little trouble in the third and they took advantage of a couple of things and scored a couple of runs.

"He settled down in the fourth and fifth and did a good job for us after that. He wanted to go out there in the fifth. I'm glad to see guys wanting the baseball. That's what you like to see.

"That's what we're looking for."

Arkansas and Southwest Missouri engaged in a taffy pull for most of the first four innings but the Razorbacks flirted with putting it away in the fifth.

Leading 4-3, the Razorbacks (31-8) loaded the bases with one out but shortstop Scott Hode hit into an inning-ending double play to squelch a potential rally.

Arkansas scored a pair of runs in both the first and second innings. Southwest Missouri (12-22) rallied back and sliced the lead to 4-3 in the third. Bears catcher Matt Weglarz's two-run double to left was the big hit in the inning.

Lost in all the hoopla was the fact Arkansas first baseman Danny Hamblin extended is hitting streak to a career-high 13 games. Meanwhile Razorbacks center fielder Craig Gentry extended his hitting streak to eight games, going 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Hamblin assured himself of his streak in the first inning with a RBI double which hit at the base of the wall in right field.

Hamblin doubled again in fifth inning. He went 2-for-3 with 1 RBI.

"To tell you the truth, I didn't know anything about the streak," Hamblin said. "It really doesn't matter that much to me. What matters is we won.

"Also, I was happy to see a guy like Walker come around at the plate. He's been in the cage a lot and worked hard. He's starting to come around, but we knew he would.

"We needed him to do it."

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