Razorbacks Freshman Has Vision For Hitting

AUSTIN, Texas -- Ben Tschepikow's name might read like an eye chart, but there's nothing wrong with his vision when it comes to hitting a baseball.

"No ... no," Tschepikow said. "If I see a strike, I'm going to hit it. If I see a ball, I'm going to lay off of it."

Tschepikow must have seen a lot of strikes Saturday night against top-seeded Texas in the NCAA Austin Regional because he was smacking the ball all over Disch-Falk Field.

One might say Tschepikow blindsided the Longhorns in front of 5,717 who saw Arkansas beat almighty Texas 9-2.

Tschepikow, a true freshman from Fayetteville, recorded career highs in hits and RBIs as the Razorbacks' designated hitter Saturday night.

He went 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs.

"I've always had a pretty good feel for the zone," Tschepikow said. "I'm never going to be a power hitter and I don't want to swing at balls.

"I just try and get on base."

Tschepikow's been doing that since he got his first collegiate hit at Centenary on March 22. Since then, the 5-foot-11, 190 pounder is hitting .488 (22 of 45).

Tschepikow said the secret to his team's offensive success was getting to Texas starter Kyle McCulloch early and often.

"I think we could shake him up a little bit, get a couple of hits here and there," Tschepikow said. "He hit a couple of guys. We got some base runners. Anytime you do that early in the game, you're going to shake up the pitcher. We wanted to keep taking it to him."

"We didn't want to stop.

It was Tschepikow who got the whole thing started.

"He got a base hit in the first inning which showed the other guys, ‘hey we can center the ball pretty good on him' (McCulloch) and that gave some of the other guys some confidence," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "He did a tremendous job. Last night when I was putting the lineup together, I wanted to play him.

"He's been swinging the bat so well, knows the zone so well for such a young player. He really makes the pitcher work.

"That's what I like."

Tschepikow probably decided the issue in the sixth when he drove a Cody Buck pitch into left field. It hugged the line and dropped in for a two-out, two-run double.

"The big hit was that double down the left-field line," Van Horn said. "He took a fastball that was a little bit away, little bit up but it was a strike. Then I think he gave him a breaking pitch of some sort and he just got his hands inside it and drove it down the line."

Razorbacks left fielder Clint Arnold figured that would do it.

"That double deflated them because we were up 6-0 and they had a little bit of hope," Arnold said. " Then he hits that double and that took the wind out of them.

"It was huge."

Tschepikow still said he wasn't exactly sure if that would be enough for the Razorbacks to upset the Longhorns.

"We weren't comfortable, especially against a team like Texas in their ballpark because anything can happen," Tschepikow said. "We've been ahead in some games early but the other team came back like when we played Florida (leading 8-2 in the eighth before losing 9-8 in the Southeastern Conference Tournament).

"It's always good to get runs and add to it. After I hit it, I was just hoping the other guys would score.

"I was glad to see it."

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