FAYETTEVILLE - In the 2010 season opener, the University of Arkansas baseball team pounded out 13 hits in support of starter Mike Bolsinger en route to a 10-2 victory over Ball State Friday evening at Baum Stadium. Junior Andy Wilkins had two hits and a pair of RBI, including a solo home run, to lead the offensive charge. Four Razorbacks had two hits and each player in Friday's starting lineup came away with at least one base knock. Bolsinger picked up the win on the mound for Arkansas with a five-inning effort, allowing just one run and striking out six.
"You're always worried about coming out and playing well in the first game in front of the home fans," head coach Dave Van Horn said. "I thought we answered that question pretty early. In the first inning, we had a couple of sac flies and scored three runs on no hits. (Ball State) didn't make an error so we took advantage of the opportunities they gave us. Overall, it was a good ball game for us today."
In the bottom of the first, the Razorbacks were given two base runners, Jarrod McKinney and Bo Bigham, when Ball State starter Brad Piatt plunked the first two hitters of the game. Zack Cox followed with a walk to load the bases with nobody out. Wilkins collected the team's first RBI of the season with a sacrifice fly to left field. A wild pitch from Piatt plated the next Arkansas run in Bigham. Cox scored the third run of the inning on another sacrifice fly, this time by Brett Eibner. In a weird twist, the only official at bat of the inning came on James McCann's lineout to end the inning.
The Cardinals posted their first run of the game in the top of the fourth when Kolbrin Vitek crossed the plate on an RBI single by Ian Nielsen. Bolsinger struck out Kory Benbow to end the inning and Arkansas led, 3-1.
"I thought (Bolsinger) did a good job," Van Horn said. "He only had one spot in his five innings where he got a little wild, but for the most part he kept the ball down in the zone. He ended up throwing in the mid-sixties (pitches) and we were trying to keep him to 70-75 pitches so it worked out."
Arkansas increased its lead with a three-run fifth inning. The first three hitters reached with a single and Cox, the first batter of the inning, scored on the base hit by Monk Kreder. On great execution of a hit and run, McCann lined a ball through the right side to move pinch-runner Kyle Atkins to third and bring Wilkins home. After Matt Reynolds walked to load the bases again, Collin Kuhn lofted a sacrifice fly that allowed Atkins to score.
Ball State got one of those runs back in the top of the sixth off TJ Forrest who was on in relief of Bolsinger. Ryan Chenowith doubled down the right field line and came around to score on a single by Zach Dygent. Forrest limited the damage to that lone run, getting Nielsen to fly out for the third out. Forrest pitched four relief innings to pick up the save, his first as a Razorback.
Cox picked up an RBI in Arkansas' half of the sixth with a double to the base of the wall in left center. McKinney, who led off the inning being hit with a pitch for the second time, came around to score. From the top spot in the lineup, McKinney reached base four times and scored twice. He also drove in the first of two Razorback runs in the seventh with a double down the right field line to plate Reynolds. Kuhn scored the second run after tagging up on the team's fourth sacrifice fly of the game, this time by Tim Carver.
Wilkins tacked on the final run of the game with an opposite field shot into the Razorback bullpen in the bottom of the eighth.
Opening day brought 4,847 fans to Baum Stadium (paid attendance of 7,359). Arkansas continues its season-opening series with Ball State Saturday afternoon. First pitch for game two of the season is set for 1:05 p.m. Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal, the president of the Republic of Panama and 1973 University of Arkansa graduate, is scheduled to throw out the first pitch.