Ryan Cisterna's hitting luck has been "all or nothing" in his first year at Arkansas according to his coach. Cisterna got it all to spark the Razorbacks in a 9-4 college baseball victory over Nebraska on Wednesday at Haymarket Park.
Cisterna, junior transfer catcher, blasted a two-run homer to break a 3-3 tie in the eighth inning to spark a six-run rally by the Hogs to give them a split of the two-game series for Dave Van Horn's return to play his old team.
Arkansas (13-6) had lost three straight and five of its last six.
Cisterna entered the game hitting .157 with 20 strikeouts in 51 at bats. However, of his nine hits on the season, four have gone for home runs. None have been bigger than the one he blasted with the wind blowing out to left against the Cornhuskers.
"I've struggled, no doubt," Cisterna said. "I've been out front a bunch, but sometimes I've been right on it. I got a lot of bat on that one. I think I hit that one as hard as I could."
That jump-started the Arkansas bats, in deep sleep since Georgia rallied from a 10-1 deficit midway through Saturday's game. Chase Leavitt followed with a double to the wall in left, Brett Eibner lined a triple to center and Logan Forsythe doubled to the wall in left. The Hogs also took advantage of two walks and two errors in their big inning.
"From mid-day Saturday on, it's been pretty disappointing," Van Horn said. "We just needed a big hit to get us out of that. Cisterna changed that. He hammered that one."
The Hogs tried to change things up on the mound with Travis Hill, normally the closer, as the starter. He gave them three innings, but left after the Hogs fell behind 3-1 in the fourth. The Hogs battled back on solo homers from Leavitt and Tim Smalling, pulling even in the seventh when Forsythe walked, stole second and scored on an Andy Wilkins double to left.
The Hogs pieced it together after Hill with two innings each from Dallas Keuchel, Stephen Richards and Brett Eibner. Richards, bothered by a sore elbow earlier this season, was the best of the three relievers, allowing just one hit and facing just one above the minimum. He got his first decision of the year. Eibner walked two to start the eighth, but got out of the jam when he caught a soft liner and threw to second for a double play.
"It wasn't hit that hard and was probably going to Ben (Tschepikow) at second," Van Horn said. "He turned to go to second and no one was there yet and he took his time and went to first for a nice play.
"Our pitching did a great job. I thought they gave us a chance today. Then, we started hitting some home runs and that's kinda been our style.
"When we did get it rolling in the eighth, it was kinda like what Georgia did to us on Saturday and Sunday. We needed something to change the way we were feeling headed to LSU this weekend."
Arkansas is hopeful some of its pitching woes were answered when sophomore lefty Stephen Richards provided two solid innings in a 9-4 victory over Nebraska. Richards has been bothered all season by a sore elbow.
"We hope he feels good tomorrow," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "We'd like to have left him in longer today, but we would like to have him some this weekend, too."
Richards pitched the sixth and seventh innings to earn the victory. He said he will be "excited" when he wakes up today to see if there is any soreness in the elbow.
"I'd like to think I'm finally healthy," he said. "Today, my location was finally back. I hope this means we are rolling again. It was a big win for us. We tied it in the fifth, then buried them in the eighth. It's a confidence booster."
Van Horn said sophomore transfer Mike Bolsinger, bothered by a sore shoulder, will not make the trip to LSU for the weekend. He'll return to Fayetteville instead of bordering the charter flight to Baton Rouge and see a doctor Friday. Van Horn said Bolsinger may be out for the year.
Van Horn said his trip back to Lincoln was mostly enjoyable, but he has one reminder that may be with him for a bit that wasn't so pleasant.
Arkansas shortstop Tim Smalling pulled a liner foul that struck Van Horn in the thigh early in the game.
"I couldn't get out of the way and it got me good," Van Horn said. "I didn't want anyone to know how badly it hurt, but it did. Years ago, I probably would have dove away from it. I wasn't going to dive."
Later in the game, Nebraska coach Mike Anderson faced a similar situation. He did a back flip, avoiding the liner. Anderson joked afterward, "I'm a lot younger than Dave."
Junior captain Logan Forsythe said the Hogs had a meeting for hitters in the hotel Tuesday night after dinner. He said they needed to get some things sorted out after going cold at the plate for the better part of three games.
"It was kinda my call," he said. "A couple of the older guys joined in. We just needed to go over basic stuff and make sure the younger guys knew the signs and some little things like pitch selection. It was a good meeting. Anyone who wanted to say something did. Some older guys talked. Some young guys talked. We got some things out there.
"We are going to LSU this weekend and I just wanted to get some things taken care of before that trip. We needed a confidence boost."
Forsythe had a hit and two walks. He also stole a base. He did make an out at home when he tried to slide around a tag and missed the plate.
Arkansas 9, Nebraska 4
Hawgs Daily Top Stories
Scout On the Road: SeptemberScout takes a look at some of the top prospects we saw in person during the month of September...
Scout FootballWednesday at 2:00 PM
Longhorns Preview Oklahoma StateTexas offensive players discuss the Longhorns' upcoming game at Oklahoma State to kickoff Big 12 Conference play.
Horns DigestMonday at 6:21 PM
Louisiana CB 'Real Close' to a DecisionIt may not be too long before one of the top cornerbacks in Louisiana makes his decision. Four schools are high on his list and you can get the latest here...
Scout FootballMonday at 6:15 AM
JC defensive back talks ISU official visitOver the weekend, Iowa State played host to one of their top 2017 targets in the current recruiting cycle in Paramount, CA three-star JUCO CB Keisean Nixon. This visit for the…
AllCyclonesSunday at 6:34 PM