Arkansas Wakes Up In Time For Win

FAYETTEVILLE —Arkansas hitting coach Todd Butler isn't asking his players to hit the panic button, but he sure wouldn't mind if they decided not to make that an option.

Flirting with disaster again Sunday, Razorbacks hitters didn't seem to be in a big hurry to even the score with Illinois State in front of 2,538 Chap-Stick citizens on another cold day in Baum Stadium.

Finally, in the eighth inning, No. 5 Arkansas rallied for seven runs en route to a 9-8 nutty nonconference extra-inning encounter with the visitors from north of the Mason-Dixon.

After 10 innings, Butler was still scratching his noggin.

"I don't understand it," Butler said. "We've got to figure it out. The one thing that is positive, we have enough ... hopefully confidence and punch that we are putting big innings up.

"We are scoring bunches of runs. Now, we've had some help. We had some walks, hit batters and errors, looking back."

Arkansas right fielder Brad Secrist, who went 2-for-5 with 2 RBI, offered his theory on the subject at hand.

"I think our hitting is contagious," Secrist said. "Once somebody gets it started, everyone just falls in line. We just have to start that earlier and continue it throughout the whole game.

"I mean, like today, it's really like we wanted to start it earlier but didn't. Still, everyone kept believing. I don't think anyone thought we were out of the game at any point today.

"In the dugout, everyone was up. It was just a good win because everyone believed we could come back. That's got to be good for our confidence once we get into (Southeastern) conference play."

Todd, what say you?

"We need more sense of urgency when we step out on the field in the first inning. Their pitcher (Illinois State starter Luke Baughman) got ahead of us early. He did a heck of a job. At first, I didn't know he was going to be that tough. He got ahead of us and put us ... we got in a hole.

"We did answer back when we got down 7-1.

"That's big going into the SEC and that's good knowing we can come back. I think if the older guys can get comfortable and get going ... the younger guys have done very well early.

"Today, we didn't mix both of them together very well."

Why? Butler didn't know.

"This morning we knew it was a great day to hit," he said. "The wind was blowing out to left, really to center field. We thought we'd put a lot of numbers. We've got to get better starting the ballgame with a sense of urgency and being ready to play.

"We were outplayed yesterday (Saturday) and today. They did a good job. They outhit us by a landslide today, 15 to 7.

"We've got some work to do."

Hamblin Sits Down

Until Sunday, Razorbacks senior Danny Hamblin had started every game he'd played in college.

But in his 194th game at Arkansas, he found himself sitting on the bench when the game began.

Hamblin, who's struggled all season at the plate, finally got into the lineup by replacing Casey Coon at first base in the ninth inning. In his and only plate appearance, he struck out.

Hamblin, a .311 lifetime hitter, saw his average dip to .128.

Bizarre Play

In the eighth inning, Arkansas third baseman Logan Forsythe reached on fielder's choice, but moments later was picked off at first base.

Or was he? Immediately after Illinois State first baseman Jesse Griswold applied the tag, Razorbacks first base coach Bubbs Merrill begged to differ.

Then Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn joined in the argument with umpires Joey Payne, Mike Grace and Jeff Bowerman.

After a brief, but heated discussion, it was ruled Griswold had blocked Forsythe's path and Forsythe was awarded second base because of interference.

That brought Redbirds coach Jim Brownlee into the mix. He, too, protested, but to no avail. Brownlee returned to the dugout still fuming and moments later Payne, the home plate umpire, tossed him out of the game.

Pop Ups

Forsythe made the play of the game in the eighth inning. Diving into the dirt, he robbed Griswold of a potential double for the second out of the inning ... Arkansas doesn't return to Baum Stadium until March 9 when it hosts Kansas for a three-game series ... Forsythe hit his second home run in the last two games. He hit only three as a freshman last year.

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