NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Andy Wilkins delivered the game-winning hit in front of a sell-out crowd of 10,200 at Dickey-Stephens Park to send the No. 10 University of Arkansas baseball team to a 5-4 victory over Louisiana Tech in 10 innings Tuesday night. Jordan Pratt tossed three scoreless innings to close out the game and earn the victory. Brett Eibner finished the game 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. The game was the program's first trip to Central Arkansas since the 1986 season.
"Well, the crowd was great," head coach Dave Van Horn said. "The game was a little sloppy early. The pitching was pretty toe-to-toe the first couple of innings and then we kicked it into gear. We made a routine throwing error that just opened the flood gates for them. They punched in four runs but we came battling back.
"I thought we did a good job answering real quick, scoring the same inning that they did. Then we just turned it over to the bullpen, trying to get some guys to work. I'm glad it didn't go another inning. We weren't going to bring Pratt back out because we have to get him ready for the weekend. But we had Eibner going; I kind of wanted to see him go but obviously I'm glad that we won the game when we did."
With the score tied in the bottom of the 10th, Bo Bigham led off the inning with a single up the middle. He was eventually forced out at second base but Zack Cox reached on a fielder's choice. Eibner following by drawing a walk and the Hogs had runners on first and second with one out. Then Wilkins came through with the single that pushed the Razorbacks to victory.
Collin Kuhn led off the bottom of the first for Arkansas (38-11) with a triple to center field. On the very next pitch, however, he and Bigham, the hitter during the at-bat, were both erased on an extended rundown. Cox lined out to center field and the visitors escaped an early threat by the Razorbacks.
Louisiana Tech (25-23) jumped ahead with four runs in the top of the second. With runners on first and third after an error and a single, Justin Gordey delivered with a two-run triple to center field. Will Alvis followed with a double to plate the Bulldogs' third run of the inning. Arkansas starter Randall Fant was lifted after giving up a base hit to Taylor Terrasas; DJ Baxendale entered the game for the Hogs. Louisiana Tech tacked on one more run with an RBI single by Kyle Roliard. Arkansas got out of the inning with the help of a 1-6-3 double play.
The Razorbacks cut their deficit in half with a pair of runs in the home half of the second. Brett Eibner got things started with a double to left field. With one down, designated hitter Tom Hauskey knocked another double off Louisiana Tech starter Josh Barrett to score Eibner. Arkansas' second run of the frame came when Hauskey came around to score on a single by Travis Sample.
Eibner collected his second double of the ballgame with an identical shot to left field to lead off the fourth. He moved over to third on a bloop single by Hauskey. Sample drove in the run with an RBI groundout to the shortstop. At the end of four innings, Louisiana Tech led, 4-3.
The relief pitching for both teams controlled the late stages of Tuesday's ballgame. After Baxendale's 1.2-inning out, Geoffrey Davenport and Jeremy Heatley combined to keep the Bulldogs off the scoreboard and allowed Arkansas to rally for the tie in the bottom of the eighth.
With his third hit of the game, Eibner drove in the game-tying run with a base hit to left field. Bigham led off the inning with a double to left. Cox advanced the runner with a groundout to second. Eibner pulled the Razorbacks even with his RBI single, which plate Bigham.
With two down in the bottom of the ninth, Monk Kreder lined a shot to right center. The ball hopped over the fence and Kreder pulled into second with a ground-rule double. He had just entered the game the previous half inning, replacing James McCann at catcher. Louisiana Tech went to its bullpen with the potential winning run on second. Reliever Trevor Petersen responded by striking out Kuhn to send the game into extra innings.
The Razorbacks return to Fayetteville to take on South Carolina this weekend in the final regular-season home series of the year. Friday's opener against the Gamecocks is scheduled for a 6:35 p.m. start at Baum Stadium. The conference matchup will be televised by Cox Sports Television.