FAYETTEVILLE – Much in the same way Arkansas did the day before, Ball State used a strong first inning to set the tone Saturday, beating the Razorbacks 5-2 at Baum Stadium.
Making the first start of his career, Arkansas sophomore pitcher Geoffrey Davenport (0-1) pitched four innings, allowing two unearned runs on five hits. He also struck out seven batters.
Ball State (1-1) never trailed in the game. The Cardinals scored twice in the first inning, first on an RBI triple from Kolbrin Vitek, who was later plated on a sacrifice fly by Zach Dygert.
"They out-played us big-time today," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "They out-pitched us and out-fielded us. They got some big hits. We had our chances and had guys that didn't put the bat on the ball. It was completely opposite of last night when we were driving in runs with sac flies.
"We can get better. We have a long ways to go and that's what these early season games are for. Ball State is a quality team."
Stranding runners was a problem for the Razorbacks (1-1). Arkansas left 12 on the base pads, including two in the sixth, three in the seventh and two in the eighth.
The Razorbacks left at least one runner on the bases in each inning.
"We had a chance to score runs but we never got that big hit," Van Horn said. "We had a leadoff double and didn't score. We had runners on first and third and didn't score. That was the most frustrating part of the game. McKinney led off the seventh with a double down one run and we had 2, 3 and 4 coming up and didn't score. That's disappointing."
Ball State put some cushion between itself and the Razorbacks with Dygert's two-run home in the top of the eighth inning off Arkansas reliever DJ Baxendale. The blast gave the Cardinals a 5-2 lead.
Arkansas had twice cut the lead to one run before the home run. The Hogs responded to Ball State's first inning with a Brett Eibner run off a single by James McCann in the second inning to pull to within 2-1.
Ball State scored thanks in part to an error in the top of the sixth inning. Baxendale caught Cardinal runner Kolbrin Vitek on a pickoff move, but Vitek advanced to second on a throwing error from Arkansas first baseman Andy Wilkins. Vitek advanced to third on a single one batter later and scored on a fielder's choice double play to give Ball State a 3-1 lead.
The Razorbacks committed four errors on the afternoon.
"We saw where the holes are and what we need to work on," Wilkins said. "There are a lot of things we need to work on defensively and offensively, pitching, everything can get better."
The Razorbacks responded in the bottom of the sixth. Kyle Atkins scored from third base on a passed ball while pinch-running for Monk Kreder, who had reached on a lead-off single. Arkansas couldn't plate Eibner from third, however, and trailed 3-2.
That trend continued in the seventh when Eibner struck out with the bases loaded to end the inning and Arkansas couldn't bring pinch-hitter Collin Kuhn in from third in the eighth to end another threat.
"We're no finished product by any means," Van Horn said. "We've got talent but we've got to come out every day and play solid baseball against good teams like this or we'll lose. You don't like to lose but sometimes a loss can be a good thing for down the road."
Ball State's Kirby Campbell slides under the tag of Arkansas catcher James McCann in the first inning Saturday.
James McCann legs out a double in the fourth inning.
Geoffrey Davenport lasted four innings in the first start of his career. Davenport struck out seven batters.
Freshman pitcher DJ Baxendale went 3.1 innings, allowing two runs and striking out three.
Matt Reynolds throws out a runner at first base.
Photos by Marc F. Henning
Ball State 5, Arkansas 2
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