FAYETTEVILLE – A team that made a living out of late-game heroics a year ago, Arkansas can add another comeback to its 2010 resume.
Trailing for much of the game Friday, the No. 14 Razorbacks used a three-run sixth inning to tie the game and an eight-run seventh to put things out of reach in a 14-6 win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee at Baum Stadium.
"We had a lot of come-from-behind victories last year," Arkansas catcher James McCann said. "As much as we want to jump out in front it's good to be able to battle back and stay in there for the whole game, and come back in the end."
Arkansas (10-3) is no stranger to the big inning. The Hogs used a pair of five-run innings to win two games at California last weekend and a 10-run eighth inning to rout South Dakota State 21-2 on Wednesday.
"It reminded me a lot of Wednesday night," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "When we get it going a little bit we seem to be able to score five, six, seven, eight runs."
Unlike that game, however, the Hogs had to come back to win Friday, trailing 6-3 heading to the bottom of the sixth inning.
The Razorbacks tied it up in the sixth with an RBI triple by Matt Vinson, an RBI double by Collin Kuhn and an RBI groundout by Zack Cox.
The Panthers (4-6) threatened to regain the lead in the top of the seventh but a great play from first baseman Andy Wilkins helped the Razorbacks hold serve. With a steady rain falling and runners on first and second, Wilkins made a diving stop to his right and flipped the ball to reliever Geoffrey Davenport for the final out of the inning.
"It was a huge play," Van Horn said. "We're always giving Andy a hard time about diving and making a play, and he was fired up about it. Defense will win you a lot of games. Everybody talks about defense wins championships and it probably does. Defense got us in the dugout without them scoring another run and then we put together the big inning."
The play gave the Razorbacks momentum heading to the bottom half of the inning. McCann and Brett Eibner reached to start the inning and both scored on a 2-RBI single by Bo Bigham to give Arkansas an 8-6 lead. That grew to 10-6 on Cox' 2-RBI single later in the inning and to 14-6 on McCann's first career grand slam with two outs.
"I think that inning was big for our team," McCann said. "That's big for our team because we'll be able to move on and remember these innings when we need another big one in a game. We know it can be done."
Davenport (2-1) picked up the win for Arkansas by pitching 1 2/3 innings of relief for starter Mike Bolsinger. The senior Bolsinger left in line for the loss after giving up six runs in 5 1/3 innings.
"From the defensive side it's tough playing in this. It's slick and it's hard to throw the ball," Van Horn said. "Mike didn't throw very well today at all but I thought Davenport came in and did a tremendous job. He got us back into the game and got a win."
The Panthers took an early 1-0 lead on a Ben Long RBI double to score Cole Kraft in the top of the first.
Arkansas responded in the second when Tim Carver scored on a Bigham RBI single to tie the game and the Razorbacks took a 2-1 lead when Cox scored on a wild pitch in the third.
That didn't last long, though. Former Razorback Chad Pierce scored on an error in the fifth to tie the game 2-2 and the Panthers took a 4-2 lead when the shortstop Kraft hit a 2-run home run later in the inning.
"They jumped out and hit a home run after a couple of innings and all of a sudden we found ourselves down three, but we didn't panic," Van Horn said.
The two teams will meet again Saturday with a 2:05 p.m. first pitch scheduled. Sophomore Drew Smyly will take the mound for Arkansas while Pierce will get the start on his old home field for the Panthers.
With a win the Razorbacks will record their 300th all-time win at Baum Stadium, which opened in 1996.
Arkansas 14, Wisconsin-Milwaukee 6
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