FAYETTEVILLE - The opening game of the 2010 NCAA Fayetteville Regional felt more like a home run derby Friday afternoon.
Arkansas broke out of a month-long offensive funk by hitting a school-record nine home runs as the Razorbacks easily beat Grambling State 19-7 in front of 6,305 fans at Baum Stadium.
"I thought we came out very aggressive offensively," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "We did a good job of doing what we've been working on all week and that was using the whole field."
Brett Eibner tied a school-record with three home runs and Collin Kuhn, James McCann and Andy Wilkins each hit two home runs apiece as the No. 19 Razorbacks (41-18) won their fourth consecutive game in the regional round.
Eibner finished the day 4-for-5 at the plate with seven RBIs and five runs scored. He scored from second base on a flyout to center field in the second inning and added a diving catch from his spot in center field in the top of the fifth inning, highlighting an all-around great performance in his first game back after missing last week with a hairline fracture in his right hand.
Kuhn, Eibner and McCann each hit home runs in a six-run first inning to give the Razorbacks a 6-0 lead they wouldn't relinquish. The six runs were more than the Razorbacks had scored in nine of their previous 10 games.
That lead grew to 8-0 after two innings and to 11-1 after three innings on a three-run Eibner home run that bounced off the glove of Grambling State right fielder Jeremy Shelby and over the wall.
"He hit the ball extremely well in practice this week and then I noticed in pregame the ball was jumping off his bat, especially when we opened up the rounds for them to just hit," Van Horn said. "He looked good."
Grambling State (22-31) finally cut into the Arkansas lead by scoring three runs to chase Razorback starter TJ Forrest in the top of the fifth inning. The Tigers finished the game with 13 hits but stranded 11 base-runners on the afternoon, including the bases loaded in the fifth and sixth innings.
"We are disappointed in the loss," Grambling State coach James Cooper said. "Our pitching started out really slow and allowed Arkansas to have a big first inning and we could not keep the ball inside the park. We have a never die attitude when we go out to play and we knew going out we needed to swing our bats well and get timely hits. Arkansas could definitely swing the bat well and they made the routine plays and also made all of the tough plays in the outfield to take some hits away from our guys."
Kuhn hit his second home run of the afternoon to lead off the fifth inning and extend Arkansas' lead to 12-4. Both of the sophomore's home runs were of the leadoff variety.
Wilkins' first home run was a three-run home run that cleared the 45-foot scoreboard in center field to give the Razorbacks a 15-5 lead.
Eibner and Wilkins each hit home runs again in the eighth inning in consecutive at-bats to build the Arkansas lead to 19-7. Wilkins finished the game with 42 career home runs, tying him with Jeff King for third on the school's all-time list. Eibner has 41 in his career, 21 this season.
"It's great being in the record books," Eibner said, "but I'd rather be in Omaha and win a national championship. That's what I came to school to do and hopefully we can keep winning to get back there."
Zack Cox (back) also returned for the game, going 1-for-2 before being pulled for precautionary reasons after the second inning with the Razorbacks holding a comfortable 8-0 lead.
"He's fine," Van Horn said.
Sam Murphy (1-2) picked up the win for the Razorbacks by throwing 2 1/3 innings in relief, including working out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning. Jason Fuqua and Christian Kowalchuk each pitched an inning out of the bullpen.
"Murphy did a heck of a job coming in and throwing strikes," said the Arkansas catcher McCann. "I was proud of the way he came out and competed for us on the mound."
Arkansas advances to play Washington State in the winner's bracket Saturday at 7:05 p.m. The Cougars beat Kansas State 8-6 Friday.
Grambling State and Kansas State will meet in an elimination game at 2:05 p.m.