Eibner, Murphy Pace Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas repeatedly blistered baseballs Wednesday night in Baum Stadium. The Razorbacks smashed a season-high tying 17 hits against Missouri State, scoring in double figures for the third consecutive game.

Yet, they really didn't need most of it.

Sophomores Brett Eibner and Sam Murphy each recorded career highs in strikeouts as No. 14 Arkansas blanked Missouri State 10-0 before an announced 3,314 in Baum Stadium. Four pitchers combined on the six-hit shutout that marked Arkansas' eighth victory in its last nine games.

The Razorbacks (17-4) posted their first shutout since exactly one year earlier against Centenary.

"All of us threw well," said Eibner, a 6-foot-4 right-hander who earned his second win this season. "We all did a great job of getting ahead of hitters early."

Arkansas' hitters didn't have any problem with Missouri State's pitching. Senior center fielder Chase Leavitt and senior shortstop Scott Lyons, batting 1-2 the Arkansas batting order, had three hits apiece and combined to drive in five runs.

But the Razorbacks pitchers stood out even more, considering they struck out a school-record 18 batters in halting the Missouri Valley Conference favorites' seven-game winning streak.

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn was especially impressed with Eibner, who has struggled at times this season. Eibner allowed only two hits in four innings. His seven strikeouts bettered two previous efforts of six — against Valparaiso on March 4 and against South Dakota State on March 5, 2008.

"Eibner threw really well," Van Horn said. "He had the slider working. You saw they were swinging at it and missing pretty good. When you're throwing 92 or 93 miles per hour — that's what it looked like he was throwing to me — you have to jump out there a little bit to catch up with it.

"So it fooled them a little bit and he got us through the first four (innings)."

Arkansas' pitching didn't drop off when Van Horn gave the ball in the fifth to Murphy, a 6-foot righty. Murphy's five strikeouts bested outputs of three in recent outings against Nebraska and California.

Missouri State (11-11) only managed one serious threat in the first seven innings, but left fielder Andrew Darr ensured a scoreless fourth inning for the Bears.

Darr, a 6-2 senior, made a leaping catch down the left-field line to end the fourth. He jumped and stretched his glove into the stands to strand Bears baserunners that were at second and third base.

"What he did was he got over there and gave himself a chance so he didn't have to run through that (wall) and hurt himself," Van Horn said. "He got there and had enough room to make the play. It was a great play."

Arkansas' last two relievers then sealed the shutout.

Junior left-hander Christian Kowalchuk struck out the side in the eighth, whiffing Missouri State's Chris Playter with the bases loaded to finish the eighth. And senior right-hander Kendall Wehrle struck out the side in the ninth, giving Arkansas its school record for strikeouts.

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