Big Inning Sparks Diamond Hogs

FAYETTEVILLE -- Without getting bogged down in play-by-play, one could see where Arkansas separated itself from Illinois State on Friday in the opening game of a three-game series.

After dissecting the scorebook, it was easy to understand how the No. 5 Razorbacks were able to clobber the Redbirds 12-1 in Baum Stadium in front of a season-high crowd of 5,137.

In the four-run fifth inning, Arkansas batted around. Hogs left fielder Jacob Julius started all the commotion with a leadoff double to left-center field.

"They had a really good pitcher (Illinois State starter Eric Theisen) on the mound," Julius said. "He was mixing his pitches up well and we were battling him. He left a fastball up and I hit a double and then our guys just followed and started hitting.

"We were able to knock him out and I think that was a big key."

After Julius hit the double, catcher Brian Walker reached on a freak RBI infield single and shortstop Tim Smalling doubled to left. That is how Arkansas turned things around.

That gave the Razorbacks a 5-0 lead and buoyed starter Nick Schmidt, who struggled early, to his second win of the season.

"Oh yeah, but he's Schmidt," Julius said. "He was dominant like usual, I think. He threw the ball really well, I thought. We were a little shaky on defense early but we backed him up pretty well after that.

"We have amazing depth on this team. Everybody can step it up when they get their opportunity."

That fifth inning was all the No. 5 Razorbacks (8-2) needed to put this one out of reach and give them their fifth straight win.

"A lot of times for our team, especially this year, we just have to put some knocks together early," Razorbacks center fielder Jake Dugger said. "It's very contagious when we hit. A couple of guys got some hits to start the inning and we got on a roll.

"If we hit early, we hit the whole game. If we wait until late, we hit in the seventh, eighth and ninth. It was good to get in done in the fifth.

"We feel we have a lot of depth. We still have some guys who played early that aren't playing now, but can still play and hit well. It's good to get guys off the bench and they make an immediate impact right away."

Coming Attractions

After this weekend, Arkansas plays in the Dairy Queen Classic in Minneapolis, Minn., March 2-4. In that tournament, the Razorbacks play Ole Miss, The Citadel and Minnesota.

Arkansas then returns to Baum Stadium to meet Kansas in a three-game series starting March 9 and plays a midweek game against Oral Roberts on March 13.

Pop Ups:

Arkansas turned three double plays in Friday's win ... Illinois State reliever Josh Schultz threw four wild pitches in one inning in Friday's loss ... Julius crashed into the bullpen fence chasing down an eventual triple by Redbirds first baseman Jesse Griswold in the eighth inning. Julius, stunned momentarily, stayed in the game ... With two hit batsmen Friday, Arkansas now has had 27 hitters plunked in 10 games this season ... Both Illinois State and Arkansas had 10 runners left on base.

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