ATHENS, Ga. – Sophomore Brett Eibner tossed a one-hit shutout on Sunday afternoon to lift the No. 5 Arkansas baseball team to a 2-0 victory over the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs in Southeastern Conference action at Foley Field in Athens, Ga.
Eibner’s performance was stunning on all accounts as he held one of the nation’s top offenses in check to record his fourth win of the season. Eibner tossed 126 pitches in the effort and struck out a career high 12 batters for the victory.
The Razorbacks (26-11, 11-7 SEC) take game three of the set after dropping the first two in dramatic fashion with ninth-inning hits. Georgia (31-8, 13-5 SEC) gets shut out for the first time in more than two years and held to a one-hit shutout for the first time since April 20, 1994.
“All I know is we’ve played five one-run games and a two-run game, and we had to earn everything we got,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “We could have easily won all five or lost all five. I thought we played good all weekend. It was almost like a Super Regional feel with outstanding pitching.”
The Razorbacks played outstanding throughout their three games with Georgia, but Sunday afternoon was all about Eibner who pitched Arkansas’ first complete game in more than a year.
“He just threw strikes,” Van Horn said. “That’s a scary lineup. They’ve got speed at the top, speed at the end and pop through the middle. They don’t make very mistakes. [Eibner] pitched pretty well, obviously. His control took off there in maybe the fourth, fifth and sixth. In the ninth he was getting a little tired, but I told him after the game, 'If you'd have walked the bases loaded and there was less than two outs I still wasn't pulling you. It was your game'. He deserved it.”
Eibner struggled with his control in the opening two innings as he walked two batters, but was able to get out of potential trouble with strikeouts. In the third he allowed a double to leadoff man Matt Cerione, but after the hit sat down 17 straight batters until he walked the leadoff man in the ninth.
Eibner’s complete game shutout is the first by a Razorback since former Hog starter and first-round draft pick Nick Schmidt accomplished the task on May 23, 2007 against Alabama and the one-hitter was the first by a Razorback since Richie Nye one-hit the South Carolina Gamecocks on March 29, 1996. Eibner’s 12 strikeouts was also a marked event, as it was the first time since May 18, 2007 that a Razorback fanned 12 and the most by an Arkansas pitcher since Jess Todd struck out a Razorback record 17 on May 23, 2007.
A well pitched game on both sides, there was just one hit by each team through the fifth inning before Arkansas made the most of its opportunities.
The Razorbacks would put a pair of runs on the board in the top of the sixth, taking advantage of a costly Georgia error. Freshman Zack Cox led off with an infield single to the hole between shortstop and third base. Another freshman, Jarrod McKinney, hit a bounding ball to the shortstop but an in-between hop was dropped by the Georgia player allowing everyone to reach base safely. Arkansas’ third consecutive first-year player, James McCann, then executed a superb sacrifice bunt to the third baseman to advance the runners. Senior Chase Leavitt made the error hurt as he stroked a 2-0 pitch into the left-center-field gap to score both runs and give the Hogs the lead, 2-0.
The Razorbacks remain on the road for their next contest, a day trip to Tulsa, Okla., to face the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles on Tuesday, April 21. For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.