Aaron Murphree and Casey Coon both hit three-run homers and Shaun Seibert got his first victory as Arkansas concluded a three-game sweep of Siena with a 10-4 triumph Sunday.
With the change of clocks causing a 1-hour loss on the daylight savings switch, some Arkansas fans in a season-high crowd of 3,511 were still settling into their seats when Murphree went deep for the sixth straight game.
"It looked like the pitcher shook off the signal a couple of times," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "I don't think he wanted to throw what the coach called and Aaron took advantage."
Murphree wasn't sure if the Siena starter shook off one or two signs, but he was sure of the pitch.
"He changed to a fast ball and I just tried to put a good swing on it," Murphree said. "It got up in the wind and went out again.
"I promise I'm not trying to hit home runs. I go up there thinking about putting a good swing on it and hitting a line drive hard somewhere. I know (there is a buzz in the stands) right now, but I'm not trying to hit home runs."
Again, is the right word. It was Murphree's 12th home run of the season. The Hogs, now 11-1, have played just 12 games and already Murphree is halfway to Ryan Lundquist's school record of 24 home runs.
Murphree's home run went into the HogPen beyond the left-field wall. In the last six games he has hit 10 home runs with a .542 batting average, 19 RBI, 16 runs scored and a 1.792 slugging percentage. Murphree is now hitting .447 on the season with 12 home runs, 28 RBI, four doubles, 20 runs scored while slugging 1.298 with a.519 on-base percentage.
Van Horn said it appeared Murphree lengthened his swing in the rest of his at bats. He hit a couple of towering fly balls, but did not threaten the walls in Baum Stadium in going one for five for the day.
"I think he was trying to please everyone with the rest of his at bats and they did try to challenge him a little bit," Van Horn said. "He'll be ready to go Tuesday at Arizona State."
The Hogs will travel on Monday before taking on No. 1-ranked Arizona State in a two-game set Tuesday and Wednesday in Tempe, Ariz. It's near the home of new UA catcher Ryan Cisterna. Both Cisterna and outfielder Andrew Darr hail from Gilbert, Ariz.
"I grew up with most of their players," said Cisterna, who had a two-run double on Sunday. "It will be a lot of fun to go back there. I talk by phone to a lot of their players. You play year round back there and I've played baseball with most of them since I was 10 or 11. I've played on teams with them and against them. It's going to be fun.
"The only problem is that it's spring break and a lot of the girls will be gone from campus. I will need to get quite a few tickets for friends and family for this series, but I won't need as many as I'd need if it wasn't spring break. I think it's going to be neat because I've got a few girls that tell me they are going to be wearing Arkansas jerseys at our games. I think they will, too."
Cisterna was excited about the way Seibert pitched Sunday.
"That was the best he's thrown," Cisterna said. "His velocity was up. His breaker was sharp around the plate. And, he had a good slider, too. There was one inning his pitches were up, but he came right back the next inning and he was back down. He's getting better every time."
Cisterna said the Hogs are all excited about the trip to play the Sun Devils. Freshmen Brett Eibner and James Mahler are the likely starters on the mound.
"Eibner and Mahler are both getting sharper every time out," Cisterna said. "I think both of them are pumped about this trip. They are starting to figure things out."
Van Horn knows the Hogs will have their hands full with the top-ranked Sun Devils.
"I was thinking ahead about what kind of team we'd have when I scheduled this series," Van Horn said. "I wanted them to go to the Texas A&M series and then to Arizona State. We were going to have so many young players that we'd need a series like this at ASU before getting into conference play. This will help us prepare for the trip to LSU.
"I think some of our guys were in shock when we went down to Texas A&M. We didn't handle it too well. We need trips like this. I like where this falls and then we'll get them here in '09 when we should have a more veteran team.
"I like where we are right now (at 11-1). We could easily be .500 so this is good that we've taken care of business to this point. We are where we need to be right now.
"We've had some guys hurt and beat up, but we had a big lift from Murphree. H's kinda propelled us to this point. I look forward to getting (Sean) Jones and (Logan) Forsythe back int he lineup. We'll be more mature at that point."
Forsythe sat out this weekend with a sore hamstring. The junior third baseman is also bothered by a sore foot after undergoing surgery before Christmas. Jones is out with a broken hand. His estimated time of return is still up in the air. He'll stay home this weekend to have a doctor re-check his hand. He might play in the nonconference series at Nebraska on March 18-19.
"I told Logan to tell me when he's ready to go," Van Horn said. "He can come back when he says he's ready. So far, he hasn't come to me. I kinda think it might be Tuesday, though. We'll see. If he can play at Arizona State, he'll play."
Cisterna said the Arkansas dugout is buzzing about Murphree's home runs.
"When he's up, we are all on the top row waiting to see what he does next," Cisterna said. "No one can believe he's hititng them out this way. He's worked his butt off to be ready to do this, but you just can't believe they are going out like this. Every time, it's like, 'Oh, my gosh, there goes another one.' I'll tell you this, he is putting some great swings on pitches right now. Quality swings. If he gets a pitch, he's driving it every time."
Arkansas 10, Siena 4
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