OMAHA, Neb. – Andy Wilkins had two hits and five RBI to lead the No. 7 Arkansas Razorback baseball team to a 10-6 victory over the Cal St. Fullerton Titans in game one of the 2009 College World Series in Omaha, Neb., on Saturday afternoon.
Arkansas (40-22) won their opening game of the College World Series for the third time in program history and won in Omaha for the first time since the 1989 season. Cal St. Fullerton (47-14) entered the World Series with convincing wins at their Regional and Super Regional, but could not overcome an early deficit to the Razorbacks.
“Just really proud of the team,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “They came out and played hard. They felt really comfortable to me. They weren’t nervous and looked like they’ve been here before and obviously they hadn’t. They just picked it up where they left off the last couple of weekends.”Arkansas jumped out to a 2-0 lead on the Titans in the first inning as the Cal St. Fullerton pitcher struggled with his control. Chase Leavitt reached on a walk and advanced to second on single by Ben Tschepikow. A sacrifice bunt put both runners in scoring position and a sacrifice fly by Wilkins and single by Zack Cox gave the Razorbacks’ their lead.
The Hogs added a pair of runs in the third when Cox hit a deep fly ball over the right-field wall to make it 4-0, but Fullerton answered with a pair in the bottom half of the inning to cut its deficit in half. A leadoff walk to the Titans would come back to hurt the Razorbacks. Following the walk, Bo Bigham made a fantastic play to get the lead runner on a diving grab to his left and throw from his knee. A single, sacrifice fly, error and caught stealing completed the inning and made the score 4-2.
Tight into the fourth, Arkansas opened the game up with five runs in the inning to take a 9-2 lead in the game. With one out, James McCann singled and was followed by an Andrew Darr walk. Then with two outs Tschepikow worked a walk leading to Scott Lyons two-RBI single. Then, with two runners on base, Wilkins stroked a home run over the right-field fence. The long ball by Wilkins was his 19th of the season placing him in a tie for fourth on Arkansas’ all-time single season list with Ryan Fox who hit 19 in 2003.
Fullerton would score a couple of runs in the fifth inning to make it a 9-4 game and after Arkansas tallied another run in the eighth, Fullerton would get single runs in the eighth and ninth, but could not overcome the deficit.
For the Razorbacks on the mound, Dallas Keuchel earned the win with his six-inning outing, while Mike Bolsinger earned his second save of the year by pitching three innings in relief. Keuchel, the tough luck loser of several tight games and a pair of no decisions, earned his first win in a month with the effort to take his win total to a career best eight. Keuchel allowed just five hits on four runs, three earned, while walking one and striking out two.
The Razorbacks now await the outcome of the LSU-Virginia game to see who they will face on Monday evening at 6 p.m. For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.