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Arkansas downs Gonzaga to finish sweep

03/21/2012
Chad Crunk, Athletic Media Relations
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FAYETTEVILLE – Sam Bates and Jacob Morris each had a pair of hits, while eight Arkansas pitchers combined to hold Gonzaga to three runs as No. 4 Arkansas completed a two-game sweep of the Bulldogs with a 5-3 win on Wednesday at Baum Stadium.

The victory was Arkansas’ fifth in a row and improved the Razorbacks to 16-2, while Gonzaga dropped to 10-5 with the loss. Arkansas’ 16-2 start is the best 18-game start for the team since the 2006 squad was 16-2 through 18 games.

The Arkansas pitching staff stretched their scoreless streak to 28.1 innings before allowing a two-run home run with no outs in the top of the seventh. Before the homer, the Razorbacks had not given up a run since the fifth inning in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader against Binghamton.

Bates and Morris each had two hits to lead the Razorbacks at the plate. Bates added a RBI and scored two runs. Matt Reynolds finished the game 1-for-2 with two RBI. Derrick Bleeker and Jacob Mahan each had a RBI in the win.

Marco Gonzales went 2-for-4 and had a RBI to lead Gonzaga offensively. Royce Bolinger added two RBI on his second homer of the season.

Brandon Moore earned the win on the mound to improve to 2-0 on the season. Moore threw three shutout innings, giving up just one hit and striking out one.

Barrett Astin earned his fifth save of the season and second in as many days, giving up a hit in a scoreless ninth inning.

Trent Daniel started on the mound for the Razorbacks and pitched two shutout innings, striking out one and giving up a hit.

Mark Reyes, Colby Suggs and Michael Gunn each turned in a scoreless appearance out of the bullpen.

Gonzaga starter Zach Abbruzza was handed the loss to drop to 0-2 on the year. Abbruzza did not allow a hit, but gave up a run on two walks in three innings.

Arkansas struck first, scoring twice in the bottom of the fourth. Dominic Ficociello was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, but was retired at second on a fielder’s choice ground out by Sam Bates. A wild pitch moved Bates to second base. With first base open, the Bulldogs decided to intentionally walk Matt Reynolds to put runners at first and second. Mahan drove in the first run of the game with a single into left field, scoring Bates from second base. Reynolds advanced to third and Mahan moved to second on the throw to the plate. Bleeker brought home Reynolds with a ground out to short to put the Razorbacks in front 2-0.

The Razorbacks stretched the lead to 5-0 with three runs in the bottom of the fifth. With two out, Jimmy Bosco reached on a two-base fielding error by the Gonzaga first baseman. After an intentional walk to Ficociello, Bates hit a single to right-center field to score Bosco. On the throw to the plate, Ficociello moved to third and Bates advanced to second. Reynolds then scored both runners with a single to center field.

Gonzaga got on the scoreboard for the first time in the series in the top of the seventh. After the leadoff man reached on an error, Bolinger hit a two-run home run to left field to cut the Arkansas lead to 5-2. The homer snapped Arkansas’ consecutive scoreless innings streak at 28.1 innings.

In the ninth, the Bulldogs added a run, but could get no closer. Travis Forbes started the inning with a single to left and moved to second on a passed ball. After a walk to Andy Hunter, Gonzales singled into center field to score Forbes. Astin was able to settle down from there, retiring the next three hitters to preserve Arkansas’ 5-3 win.

Arkansas returns to the field this weekend as it hosts Alabama in a three-game series to open Southeastern Conference play. Game times are set for 6:35 p.m. on Friday, 3:05 p.m. on Saturday and 1:05 p.m. on Sunday.

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