Arkansas Explodes For 15 Hits

FAYETTEVILLE — Two strikeouts into Friday's game, Arkansas looked like it had its hands full with Auburn starting pitcher Evan Crawford.

But the No. 15 Razorbacks nickel and dimed their way to seven runs in the first four innings to put Crawford and the Tigers away during a 10-5 win in front of a season-high 8,841 in Baum Stadium.

Arkansas (37-17, 17-12 in Southeastern Conference play) will try to complete the sweep against Auburn (22-33, 9-20) at 12:05 p.m. today.

"We did a nice job of putting pressure on them," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "We talked about just needing to put the bat on the ball more and try to force them into making mistakes."

Crawford (5-8), a freshman left-hander with sink on all his pitches, was done after 2 2/3 innings, his shortest start of the season. Arkansas' first seven hits all were grounders through the infield until Blake Parker finally lifted a two-run double over left fielder Luke Grienke's head in the third inning.

Hogs first-year hitting instructor Todd Butler had previous knowledge of Crawford after trying to recruit him to Alabama last year.

"He's very good, but we kind of solved him a little bit," Butler said. "I didn't know how he would come out and then he punches us out with a couple of strikeouts and I thought, ‘Whoa, this is going to be a long night for us.'"

Instead, it turned into a long night for the Tigers as the Razorbacks scored in six of eight innings to stymie every rally attempt.

"I thought they were very solid with their approach to the plate," said Auburn coach Tom Slater. "Crawford has a pretty good arm (88-91 mph fastball) and he'll beat your bat if you're not short to the ball. I thought they did a nice job of taking short, flat strokes.

"Obviously, Todd had them prepared."

There was nothing fancy, all singles and doubles, as the Hogs' offense showed some explosion before the postgame fireworks display. The 15 hits were the most since banging out 17 in a 12-3 win at Ole Miss last Friday.

It also was the second most hits in an SEC game and the fifth most all season.

"The wind's blowing out and everybody thinks we're going to be hitting the ball out of the park," Butler said. "But we're hitting ground balls. The strikeouts were down (only seven) and I'm excited right now because I can really see some things starting to happen as our guys are getting better."

Brian Walker followed Parker's double by slicing an RBI single to left to push the Hogs' lead to 6-3 and end Crawford's outing. Arkansas added to its lead in the fourth when Jake Dugger walked and scored on James Ewing's double to center field.

Ewing doubled again in the sixth and moved to third on Danny Hamblin's second flyout to the warning track of the game. Ewing would score on a two-out, single up the middle by designated hitter Wayne Hrozek, who finished 2-for-5, that made the score 8-3.

After the back-to-back strikeouts to start the game, the Razorbacks strung together three straight singles to take a 1-0 lead. Auburn answered in the top of the second with an RBI double by Bruce Edwards to even the score at 1-all.

Arkansas regained the lead when Dugger and Craig Gentry each drove in runs in the second, but the Tigers would tie the score at 3-all with Greinke's two-run homer in the top of the third. Greinke's first career homer came after a leadoff error allowed Tyler Johnstone to reach first base.

Coming on in relief of starter Daryl Maday (2-1) at the start of the sixth, Charley Boyce cruised through an inning before giving up a solo homer to Ryan Jenkins, his first of the season. Another run would score on a bloop single to short center by Andy Bennett that cut the Hogs lead to 8-5.

But Arkansas would tack on a pair of insurance runs in the seventh as Dugger and Hrozek each drove in a run to create the final margin.

Reliever Brian McLelland finished off the Tigers by allowing one hit in the final two innings and helped his cause when he barehanded a slow roller to his right before throwing off balance to first base for the second out in the ninth.

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