Arkansas Gets Off To Great Start

FAYETTEVILLE — Even if they tried, the Arkansas Razorbacks couldn't have scripted a much better start to Southeastern Conference play. From an explosion of offense, to a gem on the mound to solid play in the field, Arkansas was clicking in nearly every phase of the game Friday in an 11-4 win against Florida.

"We just played well," Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn said. "We pitched well, ran the bases well, we fielded well and it was just a good ballgame for us."

With a brave crowd of 2,114 on hand at a brisk Baum Stadium, Arkansas (10-3, 1-0) got things started with a four-run fourth inning as Ben Tschepikow continued his hot ways with a three-run home run. Then came two more runs in the fifth and another four in the sixth — highlighted by a grand slam off the bat of freshman Zack Cox — to put things out of reach.

But before the offense got rolling, everything started with the pitching of Dallas Keuchel. The clear-cut No. 1 starter in the Arkansas rotation, Keuchel allowed just one run on four hits in seven innings, struck out a season-high nine batters and no-hit the Gators (9-5, 0-1) through the first five innings.

"It was a solid game, and it all starts on the mound," Van Horn said. "Then we had guys making plays getting us in the dugout and we swung the bats well.

"But we've got to go out and do it again (today)."

Arkansas broke out the bats behind Keuchel — with a season-high 14 hits and season-best three home runs. The fast start is something the Hogs haven't much this season, but it was much appreciated from the junior lefthander.

"That was huge," Keuchel said. "We've been getting off to slow starts on the weekends with a little bit of shaky defense, and we just wanted to come out here and avenge that Centenary loss. So I think we did a pretty good job of that."

Aside from three Florida runs in the ninth off reliever Jeremy Heatley, the Razorbacks could find little wrong with this SEC opener. But as they always like to say, right now it's just one game.

"I don't know if I've ever said (starting 1-0) is that important," Van Horn said. "It's just important for us to get off to a good start in the first few weeks. Last year was a struggle and so far this year it's been a little bit of a struggle as far as playing solid baseball.

"But last Sunday and tonight I thought were our two best games of the year so far."

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