Hogs Playing Best Baseball Of Season

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Even in a somewhat meaningless nonconference game against Missouri State on Wednesday at Hammons Field, the Arkansas Razorbacks gave everything they had.

And on the scoreboard, it definitely showed. Arkansas totaled 13 hits in its 16-2 drumming of Missouri State on Wednesday and the Razorbacks' pitchers -- all five of them -- didn't walk a batter. In practically all facets of the game, the Hogs are playing their best baseball of the season, and it couldn't have come at a better time. "I thought we played hard," Van Horn said. "We're up 12-1 and we have a guy slide into the fence and bust his face open -- you don't see that too much. "That's the way I like to see guys play." Hamblin 'Should Be All Right' Arkansas' Danny Hamblin was taken out of the game after a painful at-bat in the third inning, but Van Horn said he should be fine for this weekend's SEC series at Georgia. During the at-bat, which Hamblin later struck out for the third out of the inning, he swung and fouled the ball straight into his left calf, making it extremely difficult for him to even walk. "He just absolutely drove that ball off his calf, but it didn't get any bone," Van Horn said. "It's knotted up pretty good, so we got him out and kept it elevated nice. "We'll beat it out of there by Friday night, he'll be all right." Before being taken out of the game, Hamblin had three RBIs, including a two-run single in the second inning. Not Too Bad The NCAA released its up-to-date statistical rankings on Wednesday, and one of Arkansas' players surprisingly ranked No. 1 nationally in one of the categories. Jess Todd, the Razorbacks' most recent Sunday starter, currently leads the country in strikeouts per nine innings with an average of 13.28. In only 40 2/3 innings this season, Todd has struck out 60 batters. Arkansas' Friday starter, Nick Schmidt, is the only other Razorbacks pitcher with more strikeouts this season, with 73 in 73 innings. Oh Really? Missouri State sophomore Ryan Mantle, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound outfielder, is one of the only players for the Bears that has a claim to fame. Mantle is the third cousin of the late baseball legend Mickey Mantle, who had a great 18-year major league career with the New York Yankees. Coming into Wednesday's game, Mantle was in the middle of an 0-for-16 hitting slump, with his last hit coming on April 8 against Bradley University. But after striking out twice in the first and fourth innings, Mantle ended his then 0-for-18 slump by hitting a sharp single to left field. Pop Ups Arkansas junior infielder Ben Tschepikow returned to the starting lineup Wednesday, which was his first time since April 8, when he suffered a left-shoulder injury against Mississippi State. Last weekend against Florida, Tschepikow saw limited playing time as he pinch hit in Saturday's second game with a sacrifice bunt and also came in as a defensive replacement on Sunday for second baseman Tim Smalling in the ninth inning. ... The Hogs have now had 17 innings this season where they've scored five or more runs.

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