Arkansas had to come from behind in three weekend victories. They never trailed Wednesday on a sun-splashed afternoon against Kansas, thanks to solid pitching from six Razorbacks.
Arkansas earned a 2-1 victory on Brett Eibner's two-out single in the sixth inning. Travis Hill got the close, appropriately with a strikeout, the 16th on the day by UA pitching.
James Mahler, the 6-7 true freshman, gave the Hogs a solid start. He was lifted with one out in the fourth after 49 pitches, a stark contrast from his outing to start the season on Friday on a freezing afternoon.
"He was a lot better today," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "He can go to sleep tonight feeling good about himself. He's going to be very valuable to this team. He did a good job today."
Mahler got ahead with his fast ball, then mowed down the Jayhawks with a nasty knuckle-curve pitch. He had six strikeouts. Mike Bolsinger, who got the win, was next with five strikeouts in the two innings he pitched, the fifth and sixth.
"This was a big difference today," Mahler said. "I had my off speed stuff today. I didn't on Friday. Really, I had a hard time feeling the ball on Friday. I wanted to pitch (on Friday) even in that cold because I felt like the pitcher has the advantage on a day like that. I've pitched in that kind of cold a lot at home in Utah, so that wasn't a big deal. But I am going to tell you, it felt better today.
"What is great about our team right now is that you know we have a lot of depth in the bullpen. You saw it today with how many we had pitch well. As a starter, you have a lot of confidence in the bullpen."
The Hogs couldn't do much with Kansas lefty Wally Marciel. He had them off balance with a sharp cutting fast ball and location that covered both sides of the plate.
"He was very good," Van Horn said. "His cutter was good and we haven't seen much from the left side just yet."
The pitchers benefitted from the sharp difference between the shade around home plate and the bright sun where the pitches originated.
"That is tough on hitters," Van Horn said. "But we hit the ball hard some, it just was right at them."
Eibner's hit was a hard liner off the third baseman's glove that darted into left field.
"He's played well," Van Horn said. "He had another ball he hit hard and a 380-foot out to deep center on a curve ball he just missed. He's shown that he is not scared. He came in here and has been fearless. We've got some other newcomers that have played well, too. This is a big jump from high school, or even junior college."
The Hogs used Mahler, Bolsinger, Hill, Cliff Sprintston, Stephen Richards and Justin Wells on the mound. Eibner was available, too. He threw bullpen afterwards.
The Hogs will travel to a three-game tournament at Texas A&M beginning Friday. They'll play Louisiana Tech, Texas A&M and Ohio State in that order. Van Horn announced a starting rotation of Dallas Keuchel, Kendall Korbal and Shaun Seibert for the three games.
"We are excited and looking forward to it," Van Horn said. "There's a chance of rain, but it's supposed to be a lot warmer. We've been recruiting well in Houston and we will continue to go to Texas for players. There are not enough scholarships for all the good players there. We are on some good players down there now and we expect some of them to come see us play."
Travis Hill pumps his fist after nailing down the close for the Razorbacks against Kansas.
Right fielder Jacob House hauls in a fly ball against Kansas.
James Mahler, the Hogs' starter against Kansas, fires in the early innings.
Scott Lyons turns a double play for the Hogs.
Photos by Marc F. Henning, The Morning News/Hawgs Illustrated
Hogs nip Jayhawks, 2-1
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