Eibner Looks Dominant On Mound

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas sophomore Brett Eibner didn't need to worry about his recent struggles at the plate.

Instead, he got the chance Wednesday to focus on his pitching and leave his hitting problems for another day.

Eibner flustered Valparaiso's batters early on with his fastball and slider, and he was dominant through four innings to earn his first win of the season in a 9-6 victory over the Crusaders in Baum Stadium.

"I felt great going out there," Eibner said. "I felt like I was in a good rhythm and I was throwing strikes, and that's what really did it for me (Wednesday)."

The sophomore is typically Arkansas' starting centerfielder, but he's batting only .167 and has struck out 14 times. He looked more in control Wednesday afternoon when he took the pitcher's mound as the Razorbacks went for the two-game sweep of the Crusaders.

Eibner struck out four of the first five batters he faced, and he matched his career high with six strikeouts to improve to 1-1 on the season. He allowed no runs and gave up only two hits before leaving the game after the fourth inning because of a strict pitch count.

"He threw the ball extremely well. He was spotting his fastball, and he started getting on top of his breaking ball," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "He had some depth on it, got some strikeouts and he looked like a guy that could really help us this year on the mound."

Van Horn said he didn't want Eibner to throw more than 75 pitches, but the right-handed pitcher managed to get the job done in 63 pitches. He showed more control than he did in his last appearance when he surrendered three runs in 2 1/3 innings in a 9-3 loss against Kansas on Feb. 24.

"I was getting my fastball and my slider out early for strikes. I lost a few curveballs there, but a little bit later I found it," Eibner said. "So really everything (Wednesday) was working pretty well."



Back To Second

After a one-day change, Arkansas senior Ben Tschepikow reclaimed his starting spot at second base. And he took advantage of his return to the infield.

Tschepikow made an impressive defensive play with bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the fifth to prevent Valparaiso from rallying to tie the score at 5-5.

He reached out to scoop up a ground ball hit by Valparaiso's Ryan O'Gara, then threw it to first for the final out of the inning. The play got the Razorbacks out of the jam, and it proved costly for the Crusaders.

"I just saw the ball. I thought I could get to it, so I just thought I'd make a good play on it," said Tschepikow, who also went 3-for-4 with two RBIs. "I just tried to be aggressive and tried to vacuum up everything."

Freshman Bo Bigham got the start at second base in Tuesday's 7-3 win over Valparaiso, leaving Tschepikow to be used as Arkansas' designated hitter.



On Deck

Van Horn said he hasn't settled on which pitcher he'll send to the mound Friday for the first game of a three-game series with California in Baum Stadium.



CALIFORNIA AT NO. 21 ARKANSAS



WHEN: 6:35 p.m., Friday

WHERE: Baum Stadium, Fayetteville.

ON THE AIR: KFAY-AM 1030; KURM-AM 790, KURM-FM 100.3; KHGG-AM 1580 AM; KHGG-FM 103.1; KXIO-FM 106.9.

RECORDS: California Golden Bears, 7-2; Arkansas Razorbacks, 7-1.

PROBABLE PITCHERS: Arkansas, TBA; California, TBA.

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