FAYETTEVILLE – For the second consecutive day Sunday Arkansas got off to a great start against Troy and for the second consecutive day the Hogs had to hold off a late rally in a 7-6 win at Baum Stadium. Arkansas swept the three-game series.
The Razorbacks (5-1) couldn't have asked for a better start. Andy Wilkins and Zack Cox each had RBIs in a two-run first inning and Arkansas batted around in a five-run second to take a 7-0 lead.
But Troy (3-4) allowed only one hit after the second inning and pulled within 7-6 on a T.J. Rivera grand slam in the sixth inning. The Trojans had an opportunity to take the lead in the seventh, but Razorback reliever Geoffrey Davenport worked out of a bases loaded jam.
DJ Baxendale retired Troy in order in the ninth to earn his second save in as many days.
"It was the same game as yesterday," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "Sometimes that early big inning can be not a good thing. Sometimes you lose your focus. We had two innings in a row where we saw just four pitches. We hit some balls hard but right at them. Their pitcher kept chipping away and then was able to put together the big inning.
"When you get a big lead you need to put the other team away. I think we're still learning. The new guys are just figuring it out and probably thought the game was over. It was a good weekend because we won all our games and learned a lot about our team."
Cox, who finished the game 1-for-4 with two RBIs, said the Razorbacks are happy with the sweep but have several things to work on.
"When you get a chance to bury somebody, bury them," Cox said. "We should have scored 15, 16, 17 runs today but had to hang on late.
"It was a good start but it definitely wasn't a good finish on our part. It was good by the pitching to finish it out. I feel lucky we came out with a victory today."
Brett Eibner (2-0) picked up the win for Arkansas, going three innings on a pitch count and allowing one earned run on three walks. He didn't allow a hit.
"He threw a little better last week and he was disappointed in the way he threw," Van Horn said. "He got out of the first inning throwing well and in the second inning he was just OK. He didn't spot his fastball and was up with it. They scored a run on him without getting a hit.
"We had him on a 60-pitch count and he was at 52 through three innings. That hurt a little bit. Hopefully he'll have a little better outing next week at Cal."
Arkansas didn't allow a hit until the five-run sixth inning for the Trojans. Troy first scored off Arkansas reliever Sam Murphy to pull within 7-2. Junior college transfer Jordan Pratt inherited the bases loaded before giving up the grand slam to Rivera, the first batter he faced.
Rivera's grand slam was his third home run of the series.
"That guy was hitting about .167 coming into this series but he had two home runs on three hits," Van Horn said. "Yesterday his first hit was a home run. His second hit was a home run. I told the coaches we might be better off walking him because when he hits it, it goes out of the park. He had a great series against us and he moved up in the lineup."
Arkansas switched up its lineup heading into the game with James McCann starting at first base, Cox at second, Wilkins at third, Tim Carver at shortstop and Monk Kreder at catcher. Van Horn said he was pleased with the result.
"I thought they all did a great job," Van Horn said. "We move guys around when we scrimmage and I've told the infielders since the day they got here that I'll practice them at all positions. I want guys to know how other guys feel when throws are coming and where they want the ball. I like the infielders to be very versatile and they are."
Leading 2-0 heading into the bottom of the second it looked as if Arkansas would put things away in a five-run second. Matt Vinson got things started with a sacrifice fly to plate Travis Sample and Wilkins' 3-RBI double gave the Razorbacks a 6-0 lead. Wilkins later scored on an RBI single from Cox to give the Hogs a seven-run lead.
For the weekend Wilkins and Cox combined for 14 RBIs and 10 runs scored.
The Razorbacks will next host Kansas Tuesday before hitting the road for a three-game series at California beginning Friday.
Arkansas 7, Troy 6
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