BERKELEY, Calif. - Down to its final six outs, the No. 15 University of Arkansas baseball team used a five-run eighth inning to get past Cal, 7-3, Friday afternoon at Evans Diamond. In the decisive inning, Zack Cox had the game-winning single and James McCann added a three-run home run to pad the advantage. Mike Bolsinger pitched a career-high seven innings to earn the win on the mound for Arkansas (7-1). With the victory, the Razorbacks push their winning streak to six games.
"The way things started with the pitchers really dueling, it seemed like a Friday night SEC game," head coach Dave Van Horn said. "That big inning late in the game allowed us to open things up and it made the difference for us against a good Cal team."
Playing in their first road game of the season, the Hogs had a chance to put the first dent in the scoreboard in their half of the second. Monk Kreder and Cox led off the innings with back-to-back walks to give Arkansas two runners with no outs. McCann, the Hogs' next hitter, laid down a bunt but Cal pitcher Justin Jones came off the mound to field the ball and get the lead runner at third. Brett Eibner then grounded into a double play to end the inning and potential scoring chance.
After getting out of trouble in the visitor's half of the second, Cal (6-2) scored the game's first run off the bat of Jimmy Bosco. The Bears' right fielder hit a solo shot with two outs to put his team ahead. Razorback starter Mike Bolsinger shook off the home run to retire the next hitter on a pop out to get out of the inning.
During his career-long outing, Bolsinger allowed three runs-one earned-and six hits. The Razorback senior equaled his season high with six strikeouts and didn't walk anyone.
With one down in the top of the fourth, Andy Wilkins deposited a Jones offering over the fence in left field for his fourth home run of the season. The opposite field shot evened the score at 1-1. Wilkins has hit safely in each game this season and has registered an RBI in five straight contests.
Arkansas took its first lead of the game in the fifth on an RBI single by Collin Kuhn. With two outs and runners on first and second, Kuhn though the left side to plate Matt Reynolds. The Hogs were in position to tack on more runs when they had the bases loaded later in the inning. Kreder popped out to the shortstop to let Cal out of the jam, but the Razorbacks led, 2-1.
Three defensive misplays over the next two innings cost Arkansas a pair of unearned runs. In the fifth, Cal took advantage of two Razorback errors to score a run and pull even on the scoreboard. In the sixth, Danny Oh led off the inning for the Bears with an infield single and advanced to third on a wild throw by Bolsinger. Oh eventually came around to give his team the 3-2 advantage.
Trailing by a run in the top of the eighth, the Razorbacks loaded the bases with three consecutive singles by Collin Kuhn, Wilkins and Kreder to open the inning. Cox then delivered the go-ahead hit, a two-run single into center field. With two runners on, the Bears turned to their bullpen to limit the damage. However, McCann greeted reliever Daniel Wolford with a big three-run swing that put the ball over the fence and gave the Hogs the lead for good, 7-3.
Arkansas, too, turned to its bullpen in the eighth with Jason Fuqua. The junior left hander ran into some trouble after walking Brian Guinn on four pitches and giving up a single to Oh. Van Horn went back to the pen and DJ Baxendale came in to close the door for the Razorbacks. The freshman hurler entered the game with runners on the corners and one out. He induced a pair of fly outs to end the inning without allowing a run to score. In the ninth, Baxendale retired the Bears in order to end the game and tally his third save of the season.
Bo Bigham made his first appearance since injuring his shoulder in the season opener. The sophomore infielder pinch ran for Kreder in the eighth inning and scored on the home run by McCann. In his only at-bat of the game, Bigham flied out to deep right field.
Game two of the weekend series between the Hogs and Cal is set for Saturday, a 3 p.m. (CT) first pitch from Evans Diamond on the Berkeley campus. Redshirt sophomore Drew Smyly is scheduled to get the start for the Razorbacks, opposing Cal righty Dixon Anderson.