FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas freshman Dominic Ficociello went 3-for-5 with a career-high five RBI, while sophomore pitcher DJ Baxendale threw 4.2 shutout innings to lift the Razorbacks to a wild 13-9 come-from-behind win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Saturday afternoon at Baum Stadium.
Arkansas clinches the series with the win and improves to 9-1 on the season. Wisconsin-Milwaukee drops to 1-6 with the loss.
Both team's defenses struggled in the game as the two squads combined for nine errors, including six by Arkansas. The offenses took advantage with a combined 22 runs scored in the game.
The Razorbacks had to overcome a pair of deficits to claim the win. Arkansas trailed 4-0 going to the bottom of the third and was down 8-5 entering the bottom of the fourth.
Baxendale continued to put up zeroes out of the Razorback bullpen, throwing 4.2 shutout innings with five strikeouts to earn his third win of the season. In five appearances this season, Baxendale has not allowed a run in 14.1 innings, while striking out 18 batters. Also, the sophomore from Jacksonville, Ark., has received a decision in each game he's thrown, picking up three wins and two saves on the season.
Ficociello and James McCann tied for the team high with three hits. Ficociello added a career-high five RBI in the win. Matt Reynolds was 2-for-3 with a home run and four runs scored. Bo Bigham also added two hits, while Kyle Robinson scored three runs and went 1-for-4.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee reliever Jayme Sukowaty suffered his first loss of the season, giving up three runs, just one earned, on two hits in two innings of work.
Neither starter figured in the decision. Arkansas starter Brandon Moore allowed eight runs, six earned, on eight hits in three innings, while UWM starter Jordan Guth gave up eight runs, seven earned, on seven hits in 3.1 innings.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee raced to an early lead with three runs in the top of the first. Jonathan Capasso led off the game with a single to center and moved to second on a single to left field by Chad Pierce. Cole Kraft laid down a sacrifice bunt to third and reached on the play after Eric Fisher was unable to corral the ball at first. Capasso came around to score on the play, while Pierce advanced to second. Paul Hoenecke drove home Pierce and moved Kraft to third with a RBI single to right-center field. Kraft scored the third run of the inning when Sam Sivilotti grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
The Panthers added on to their lead with a run in the top of the second. With one out, Sam Koenig drew a walk and then moved to second on a two-out stolen base. After Capasso was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second, Pierce blooped a single to center field to plate Koenig to put UWM in front 4-0.
Arkansas battled back in the bottom of the third, taking its first lead of the game with a five-run frame. With one out, Bigham singled to left field and advanced to third on a hit by Jacob Morris to right field. Reynolds was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Robinson brought home a run with a single to left-center field. Ficociello drove in two runs with a single to center field to trim the UWM lead to 4-3. Robinson moved to third and Ficociello advanced to second on a balk. McCann drove home the game-tying run with a groundout to short. After a walk to Matt Vinson, Ficociello scored the go-ahead run on another balk by Guth.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee took the lead back with four runs in the top of the fourth. Koenig reached on an infield single to start the inning and moved to second on a single by Tell Taylor. Capasso had the third straight UWM hit on a single to left field, scoring Koenig. The throw in from left was off line and allowed Capasso to move to second and Taylor to move to third. Pierce reached first on an error by Ficociello at third, which allowed Taylor to score and sent Capasso to third. Kraft followed with a RBI single to right field to plate Capasso. Hoenecke drove in the final run of the inning on a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Pierce.
Arkansas answered back with four runs of its own in the bottom of the fourth to regain a 9-8 lead. Fisher opened the inning with a walk. Bigham then lined a double to the left-center field gap, allowing Tim Carver, who had pinch ran for Fisher, to score all the way from first after a collision at home plate knocked the ball out of the catcher's glove. Bigham advanced to third on the throw home. Morris had a RBI groundout to second to plate Bigham. Reynolds then drew a five-pitch walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Robinson hit a ground ball to short and the shortstop attempted to throw out Reynolds at third, but the third baseman dropped the throw. The third baseman then made a throw to the plate to try to retire Reynolds, but it was off line, allowing Reynolds to score and advancing Robinson to third. Ficociello gave the Razorbacks a one-run lead with a RBI groundout to short.
UWM tied the game at nine with a run in the top of the fifth. Doug Dekoning led off the inning with a single and moved to second on an infield single by Drew Pearson. Koenig then laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners into scoring position. Taylor reached base on an error by Carver at shortstop. Dekoning came in to score on the play, while Pearson advanced to third. Baxendale was able to evade further damage as he got Capasso to strike out looking and forced Pierce to fly out to left to end the inning.
The Razorbacks grabbed the lead for good with a run in the bottom of the fifth. Bates opened the inning by reaching third on a three-base fielding error by the UWM leftfielder. Carver scored Bates with a sacrifice fly to left field to put the Hogs in front 10-9.
Arkansas tallied another run in the bottom of the sixth. Reynolds led off the frame with his first home run of the season, a blast over the wall in left-center field.
The Razorbacks added a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. With two out, Reynolds reached on an infield single to short and then stole second base. After a walk to Robinson, Arkansas pulled off a perfectly executed double steal with Reynolds taking third and Robinson stealing second. Ficociello drove in both runs with a single to right to put Arkansas in front 11-7.
Baxendale closed the game with a perfect ninth inning and got some help from his defense. Hoenecke led off the inning with a hard hit ball to second, but Bigham was able to make an outstanding diving play to his left, get up and throw Hoenecke out at first to start the frame. Sivilotti struck out looking for the second out of the inning and Dekoning grounded out to first to end the ball game and give the Razorbacks the win.
Capasso had three hits with a RBI to lead the Panthers at the plate, while Dekoning and Pierce each added two hits.
Arkansas and Wisconsin-Milwaukee conclude the three-game series on Sunday with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Sophomore southpaw Cade Lynch (1-0, 0.90) is the scheduled starter for the Razorbacks, while the Panthers will counter with senior right hander Chad Pierce (0-2, 7.00). Reserved tickets are available for $10 and can be purchased by calling 1-800-982-HOGS (4647), by visiting the online ticket center at ArkansasRazorbacks.com or on game day at Baum Stadium, while supplies last.