Early Offense Lifts Diamond Hogs

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' lineup did a number on Centenary starter Johnny Noland on Wednesday.

Fortunately for the Razorbacks, it was just enough as they were able to hold off the Gents 8-5 to complete the two-game sweep at Baum Stadium.

The win improves Arkansas to 19-3 going into this weekend's Southeastern Conference home-opening series against Georgia.

The Razorbacks used the series against the Gents (9-13) as a warm-up for their return to SEC play, mixing things around in the lineup after a recent spate of injuries.

"It almost felt like a practice game or something," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "We were playing different people, guys out of position and we've got some starters over here resting."

For the second game in a row, the Razorbacks had to deal with chilly temperatures that kept some fans away --the actual attendance was 1,025 compared to a paid figure of 5,628 --and kept the fans that did show up bundled up tight.

"It was just a cold game," Van Horn said. "I'm glad it's over with and (we'll) get ready to start thinking about Georgia.

Arkansas got all the offense it needed early against a wild Noland.

The Razorbacks took advantage of the junior left-hander's inability to find the strike zone, turning four of Noland's five walks into runs.

After scoring two in the first to go up 2-1, Arkansas' No. 9 hitter, Stephen Robison, delivered the game's big hit, depositing Noland's 1-1 fastball just over the Arkansas bullpen in left field for a two-run home run.

"He just threw me another fastball inside and I just told myself, 'Don't let him beat you inside again and try to hit the ball up the middle' and that happened," Robison said. "I'm not trying to hit a home run, but I'm just trying to hit the ball hard and that's what happened."

Robison's shot, his first of the season, nearly could have been a three-run homer if not for a fortunate break for Centenary on the previous hitter.

Logan Forsyth's liner right back up the middle caught Noland on the leg and bounded to Gents' first baseman Torey Williams, who barely beat Forsyth to the bag for the out.

The Razorbacks added another run in the inning --also courtesy of a Noland walk --and two more in the third to go up 7-1.

Robison finished with three RBIs. Wayne Hrozak and Matt Willard had two hits each, with Hrozak adding two RBIs.

Once the Gents broke into the Arkansas bullpen after touching starter Lee Land for a run in the fifth, things got tight.

Michael Wild came on for Land and gave up four hits and walking two, giving up three runs to give the Gents a chance, as they cut the lead to four.

After Wild gave up his second hit of the seventh, Shaun Seibert came on to replace him with runners on first and third.

Seibert started off shaky, walking his first batter and allowing the runner to score from third on a wild pitch during the at-bat.

But after Seibert and catcher Blake Parker got crossed up on the first pitch to his second batter, the sophomore righty settled in nicely, striking out the next two batters to end the threat.

The Gents didn't put another runner on the rest of the game as Seibert and Chris Rhoads combined to pitch 3 2/3 hitless, scoreless innings. Rhoads earned his first save of the season.

Van Horn said Rhoads could possibly be used as a closer more down the line.

"That's one reason we did that," Van Horn said of inserting Rhoads into a save situation. "Just to possibly give him that opportunity, Friday, Saturday, whatever it takes and see how he can handle it."

Following Tuesday's series opening, 10-2 win, Van Horn said he would like to see more offensive production in the finale.

The Razorbacks looked like they were well on their way early, but added just a single run after the third.

"We got off to a fast start, but we've got to continue to add runs on as the game goes on," Willard said. "That's the one thing we've got to get better at and one thing we're definitely going to work on; just keep pounding away, we can't give up."

Hawgs Daily Top Stories