FAYETTEVILLE – For the second time in three games, Arkansas overcame a four-run first inning deficit Wednesday to down Centenary 9-4 at Baum Stadium.
The No. 10 Razorbacks (20-5) scored three runs in the sixth inning to take the lead and two more in the seventh for good measure to record their seventh consecutive win, the last five of which they have trailed at one point.
"To win 20 out of 25 games you've got to go out and perform every day, no matter who you're playing," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "I knew today would be a dogfight. Whenever you score as many runs as we did yesterday (18) and things went our way, we knew we'd have a battle on our hands. Give the credit to the pitchers and bullpen for holding them scoreless the last eight innings and the offense for finding a way to get it done and come back.
"We're used to coming back. We've been doing it a lot. Once you learn to do it you don't get too upset. We felt like we had 27 outs to swing the bat and make a game of it."
Like Alabama did Sunday, Centenary (8-12) took a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning against the Razorbacks, thanks in large part to a three-run home run by pitcher Michael Tompkins off Razorback freshman starter Garrett Methvin. The left-hander, making his first career appearance in an Arkansas uniform, went just 1 1/3 innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on two hits.
Brett Eibner's two-run home run with two outs in the third inning pulled Arkansas within 4-3 and the Razorbacks tied the game in the fourth when Andy Wilkins scored from third base on a Tim Carver fielder's choice. Wilkins had reached with a stand-up triple to lead off the inning – the first triple of his career.
In all, Arkansas had eight extra-base hits on the afternoon, including a season-high six doubles. Wilkins, James McCann and Bo Bigham all had RBI doubles in the sixth inning to give Arkansas a 7-4 lead, and Eibner and Monk Kreder each had RBI doubles in the seventh inning to extend the lead to 9-4.
"It was just a good all-around team win," said Eibner, who finished the game 2-for-4 with three RBIs. "Everybody is swinging the bats well and that's what we need going into playing Kentucky this weekend."
Senior TJ Forrest (5-0) picked up his fourth win in eight days for the Razorbacks by pitching two innings in relief.
Freshman DJ Baxendale closed the game by sitting Centenary down in order in the ninth inning. In fact, Forrest, Baxendale and Jeremy Heatley combined to retire the final 13 Gentlemen batters in succession.
Arkansas' bullpen held the Centenary bats to just three hits for the second consecutive game. Relievers have recorded the last seven wins for the Razorbacks, a nice turnaround from two weeks ago when the bullpen suffered a meltdown in the late innings at LSU.
"They've been solid," Van Horn said. "They pitched well against McNeese and against Alabama over the weekend, and obviously the last couple of games. Going into this two-game series Centenary was hitting just a little over .300. They haven't faced the schedule we have, but they've still played some good teams. We feel real fortunate to have done so well."
About the only thing that didn't go right for the Razorbacks was the hitting streak for Zack Cox, which came to an end at 24 games. The sophomore third baseman finished the game 0-for-4, including a flyout to end the eighth inning with the bases loaded. He left the field as the inning ended to a standing ovation from the crowd.
Cox did reach base twice, however, on an error and a hit-by-pitch. He has reached base safely in all 25 games this year.
"I wish he would have hit every game this season but he can start a new streak Friday," Van Horn said. "The third baseman made a nice play (in the seventh inning) on him and it looked like he was safe. I wish he was called safe but he wasn't, so now he can relax and get after it on Friday."
Arkansas will return to Baum Stadium Friday night for the first of a three-game weekend series with Kentucky. Senior right-hander Mike Bolsinger will be on the mound for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas 9, Centenary 4
Hawgs Daily Top Stories
TCU vs Iowa State primerAfter falling in double-overtime to Arkansas, TCU looks to get back to their winning ways against Iowa State.
Horned Frog Insider09/15/2016
The Ultimate Midlands TeamThere is a lot of talent in the Midlands region, with a vast majority of the highest rated recruits playing high school football in the Lone Star State. Which prospects made the…
These rival helmet color swaps are revoltingSwapping rival teams' helmet colors? It shouldn't have been done, but someone did it anyway.
Post-July 2017 Top 100 Player RankingsWith the July evaluation periods, Nike Skills Academy, adidas Nations and Under Armour's Elite 24 over, Scout's basketball recruiting team has updated the 2017 top 100. DeAndre…