Parker Has A Blast

AUSTIN, Texas -- Sophomore right fielder Blake Parker made Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn look pretty smart here Friday afternoon.

Maybe even borderline genius.

When Van Horn put the former Fayetteville High graduate back into the starting lineup for the first time in almost three weeks, most familiar with the Razorbacks scratched their noggins.

What was Van Horn thinking?

More on that later.

Clearly, it was the right move because Parker, only a .242 hitter, helped snap Arkansas out of its offensive coma and five-game losing streak.

The end result was a 9-5 Razorbacks win against Miami of Ohio in the first game of the NCAA Austin Regional at Disch-Falk Field.

"Why did we put Blake Parker into the starting lineup?" Van Horn said. "He's been swinging the bat really well in practice. I think it's been that way for the last week, little over a week, maybe even down in the (Southeastern Conference) tournament.

"It looked like maybe he was ready to snap out of it. It ended up being a good move."

Until Friday, Parker had made little noise for the Hogs of late.

"It's been a while since anyone has heard from me," Parker said. "I guess I made some noise today."

Strangely enough, the last time Parker started was the last time Arkansas won a ballgame. That was way back on May 15 when the Razorbacks won at Alabama.

"Really?" Parker said. "I didn't know that." Brilliant move? Good hunch?

Call it what you will.

It worked because Parker went 2-for-4, including a double and triple -- the first of his career -- and an RBI.

"I guess it was a matchup thing," Parker said. "I don't know. Coach is always talking about how hard it is to make out a lineup. Here late in the season, it's been tough to get into the lineup.

"I guess he liked what I've been doing in batting practice. It paid off for me today.

"I think that he liked what he saw. I guess that's why he decided to put me in. He had a little bit of faith in me and I think I made some things happen.

"It was awesome to get back into the lineup."

In his first at-bat, Parker hit a ground-rule double to left-center field which could have scored a run.

"I needed to jump-start my confidence and that did it," Parker said. "It got me going a little bit. I think the ground-rule double cost me an RBI, but that's OK. It didn't hurt us in the end."

In his next two trips to the plate, Parker popped up to first -- on a 3-0 count -- and grounded to shortstop. In his final at-bat, he tripled in a run to left-center.

"This past week he's been hitting the ball great in practice," said Razorbacks second baseman Brock Bond. "He broke loose at the right time today. We need Parker in the lineup everyday.

"It helps a lot."

Arkansas designated hitter Clint Arnold, who went 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs, said Parker needed to chill before heating up.

"I think he just went out there and relaxed today and said, 'I'm going to hit the ball,' and that's what he did," Arnold said. "It was great to see. I think he'll gain from that and start doing well.

"We know he can."

Hawgs Daily Top Stories