Three home runs -- the most for the Hogs this season -- produced 11 runs in a three-inning stretch as Arkansas opened SEC play with an 11-4 victory over the Gators. Junior lefty Dallas Keuchel (2-0) had a no hitter into the fifth inning and pitched seven strong innings.
"It starts with the pitching and Dallas got us off to a great start on the mound," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "We played well. We pitched well. We hit and had a solid game tonight."
The wind was blowing out to right field and the Hogs took advantage. Ben Tschepikow slammed a three-run homer in the third, Andy Wilkins added a two-run shot in the fourth and Zack Cox put it out of reach with a grand slam in the fifth. By then, Keuchel was breezing.
The Hogs had a season-high 14 hits, but it was clear that Van Horn thought runs might be tough to find when he put on the squeeze for the first run in the third.
Cox doubled into the gap in left center to open the third inning. Tim Carver moved him to third with a ground out to the right side. Ryan Cisterna's bunt went straight back to Florida starter Billy Bullock with Cox on the move. Cox halted short of the plate thinking Bullock had him, but the throw sailed past catcher Buddy Monroe, all the way to the screen.
Scott Lyons extended the inning with a 3-2 walk. Tschepikow followed with a line shot into the Florida bullpen in right field to make it 4-0. It was Tschepikow's fifth home run. He hit only one each in his first four years with the Hogs (counting his injury redshirt season as a freshman).
"Some of you probably don't remember this but I said (on media day) that Ben might hit for more power and get to double digits (in home runs)," Van Horn said. "He's going to hit for a little more power this year."
However, it was the pitching of Keuchel that Tschepikow wanted to plug.
"That's how you get started in an SEC series, with pitching like Dallas gave us tonight," Tschepikow said. "Dallas went after them, got a lot of quick innings. He was throwing ground balls and staying ahead of them. He really, really pitched well."
"We wanted to play Wednesday at Centenary to get rid of that bad taste," Tschepikow said. "Good teams don't lose back-to-back games so it was important to win tonight and get a good start to this series."
Arkansas hitting coach Todd Butler was pleased with the offense.
"These guys have been working hard and this was an awesome first game in conference," Butler said. "We faced good pitching tonight and we did a nice job with two strikes. We avoided strikeouts with runners on base.
"Sometimes you hear talk about timely hitting. Sometimes it's untimely strikeouts, too. We didn't have untimely strikeouts tonight. We are getting a few more guys going. We've been waiting on Zack Cox and you saw what he can do tonight. He looked great tonight."
Butler said Tschepikow has steadily improved his hitting technique as a Razorback.
"He's added a couple of little things that will generate a little more pop," Butler said. "One of them is a bat cock and you've seen his power increase. But the main thing with Ben, he doesn't swing at bad balls. If it's not a strike, he is patient."
Tschepikow said he doesn't expect to hit home runs.
"Like I've been saying, I'm kinda running into some pitches right now," Tschepikow said. "It's not about going up there for home runs. I'm just trying to help the team with good at bats."