Mashing Murphree

Aaron Murphree swats 3 of his team's 5 homers as Arkansas roughs up Siena 14-5 Friday afternoon at Baum Stadium in the opener of a three-game weekend set.

At this pace, Aaron Murphree is not only going to break the University of Arkansas single-season homer run mark, he's going to more than double it.

Murphree (6-5, 235) continued his transformation from lightly-used junior to slugging senior with 3 more home runs on Friday to give him 10 blasts in as many games as the Razorbacks downed Siena 14-5 before 673 fans at Baum Stadium.

"It's unbelievable," Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. "That last one he hit would have went out against the win. He's confident, he's putting good swings on the yard, he's hitting it the right way when the wind is blowing a certain way."

Freshmen Andy Wilkins and Jacob House also went yard and Ben Tschepikow and Tim Smalling added 4 hits each and as Arkansas (9-1) pounded out 17 hits and won the opening game of a three-game set with the Saints (1-7).

The Razorbacks have hit 17 round-trippers in their last four games against Ohio State, South Dakota State and Siena since a 13-7 loss to Texas A&M on Saturday night.

"The competition is just fine," Van Horn said. "We are just swinging the bats. We did not very good against Texas A&M. But that (three-game) A&M tournament (last weekend) got us better. I want to tell you that right now."

Murphree, who did not homer in his 37 at-bats last season, has now hit 8 homers in his last four games and is on pace to shatter Ryan Lundquist's mark of 24 in 1997.

"It's been a little bit surprising," Murphree understated. "I have been fortunate to work my way into some good counts and I have got some good pitches to hit and been putting some okay swings on stuff and it has been working out for the best for me.

"I have been working in the cage a lot with (Arkansas hitting) Coach (Todd) Butler in the offseason and stuff," Murphree added. "I have been making good contact."

His last of three on the day went an estimated 485 feet completely over the 40-feet batter's eye in center field.

"I didn't even see where it went over," Murphree said. "I guess (his teammates) are a little stunned just like I am. Like I said, I have just been getting good pitches and putting good swings on it."

He is batting .487 with 24 RBIs while slugging .1359 and on-base percentage of .545.

"What I really liked today is he took that walk (in the sixth inning)," Van Horn said. "You got all these fans jumping up and going crazy and the teams are watching, but he took that walk with two outs and we scored two runs. I told him that it's a long season and if they want to walk you five times a game and you score four runs a game.

"He's confident now, he's fun to watch and I have never seen anything like it," Van Horn added. "I hope he can do it for another 50 games."

Wilkins and Murphree both launched two-run shots in the opening inning, Murphree a solo shot in second, House a two-round shot in the third and Murphree the 485-foot blast in the seventh.

"I keep watching him (Murphree) hit and I am saying ‘are you serious?'"," Tschepikow said. "He's hitting three home runs a game. It is so much fun to watch. I know he has so much confidence and he is going to follow it through the whole year."

The Razorbacks scored in each of the first six innings with four runs in the opening inning, a single tally each in the next two frames and then two runs apiece in the fourth, fifth and sixth.

The only inning the home team failed to score was in the seventh in a game where they outhit Siena 17-10.

Tschepikow not only had the four hits, but scored from first base on a Smalling single.

Tschepikow is 13-of-24 in his last five games to raise his batting average to .484 with Murphree at .487 and freshman Brett Eibner at .483.

"I thought Ben had a tremendous day at the plate," Van Horn said. "Going the other way and then they tried to bust him in and he hits one 400 feet foul. The next pitch is away and he slaps it to left. That was a great-at bat, which was only three or four pitches. I really liked the way he hustled on that ball that Smalling basically hit into what I call the Bermuda triangle out there. He made the whole team look good there by hustling like that."

Smalling, who was 1-for-24 (.042) to start the season, has raised his average to .235 since Wednesday by going 7-for-10 since then.

"We are just trying to stay aggressive," Smalling said. "Once you get a big lead like that you are just going up there looking for a good pitch to hit."

Mike Bolsinger started the game for Arkansas, but lasted just 4 2/3 innings while giving up four runs on six hits and a pair of runs and staying in trouble in each inning.

"He wasn't throwing very good at the end to me," Van Horn said. "In the first inning, he would get two strikes on the hitter and leave one up. If that is an SEC game, they might have had five or six runs that first inning. He got away with some pitches that were singles that might have left the yard on a Friday night (in SEC play)."

Reliever Dallas Kuechel (2-0) got the win while pitching 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief while allowing just one hit, fanning two and walking two.

Sam Murphy made his Razorback debut while pitching the final two innings while giving up a run, walking a trio and fanning two.

Starter Craig Chaput (0-1) got the loss for Siena while giving up 11 hits and 10 earned runs before Maikel Hurtado finish up with two innings of relief.

"That pitcher that threw against us today had not given up a earned run and pitched up in the New England Collegiate League," Van Horn said. "Some of our guys knew him and he had a good summer. We got on him pretty good."

Arkansas will host Siena at 1:05 p.m. on Saturday and 12:05 on Sunday before traveling to play a pair of games at No. 1 Arizona State Tuesday and Wednesday.

Aaron Murphree connects on and then watches one of his three home runs on the day.

Murphree gets welcomed back to the dugout by his teammates.

Ben Tschepikow slides in safely at home with one of his three runs in the win.

Tschipekow makes the turn on a double play as Siena's Paul Cahill looks on.

Arkansa shortstop Tim Smalling makes a play.

Smalling, who joined with Tschepikow to go 8-for-10 during the game, scores ahead of the throw to Siena catcher Pete Cahill.

Arkansas starting pitcher Mike Bolsinger fires to the plate.

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