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Early homers, strong pitching leads UA to win

05/17/2012
Athletic Communications
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Arkansas scored seven runs over the first three innings and Razorback pitchers DJ Baxendale and Tyler Wright took care of the rest, combining on a two-hit shutout, as Arkansas defeated Tennessee, 8-0, on Thursday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

The Razorbacks improve to 37-17 and 14-14 in Southeastern Conference play, while Tennessee drops to 24-29 and 8-20 in league competition.

Arkansas used some early offense to take a commanding lead in the series opener. The Razorbacks scored seven times and hit four homers in the first three innings. Arkansas finished the game with 12 hits, its 23rd double-digit hit game this season.

On the mound, Baxendale and Wright combined on a two-hit shutout, Arkansas’ eighth shutout of the season. The eight shutouts is tied for the sixth most in a season in program history and the most since the 1986 team also had eight shutouts.

Derrick Bleeker hit a pair of homers, his second two-homer game of the season, and finished the game with three hits and three RBI. Along with his two homers, Bleeker also had a double and drew a walk. Matt Reynolds also had three hits in the win, including his seventh homer of the season. Reynolds extended his reached base streak to 37 straight games and his hitting streak to 10 straight games. Brian Anderson hit his first collegiate homer and had two hits with a RBI. John Clay Reeves also added two hits in the victory.

Tennessee managed just two hits in the loss with Will Maddox and Davis Morgan accounting for one hit each.

Baxendale was fantastic on the mound in his final start of the regular season, earning the win to improve his record to 7-3. Baxendale tossed eight shutout innings, allowing just two hits and striking out seven in the win. The junior right hander did not allow his first hit of the game until the sixth and only allowed one runner to reach second base. Baxendale opened the game by retiring the first nine batters he faced and then set down eight straight later in the game.

Wright came in and finished the shutout, throwing a hitless ninth inning with a strikeout.

Tennessee starter Dalton Saberhagen (5-3) was handed the loss. Saberhagen gave up seven runs on seven hits in two-plus innings of work.

Arkansas wasted little time jumping on Saberhagen, scoring a pair of runs in the top of the first. After the first two batters were retired, Reynolds and Anderson launched back-to-back homers to put the Razorbacks on top 2-0.

The Razorbacks tacked on four more runs in the top of the second. Bleeker led off the inning with his first homer of the game, a solo shot over the wall in left field. Reeves then singled into left field, but was retired on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Mahan. A walk to Vinson and a single to left field by Carver loaded the bases with one out. A sacrifice fly to left field by Ficociello scored Mahan to stretch the lead to 4-0. Reynolds brought home two more runs with a double over the center fielder’s head to make the score 6-0.

Arkansas added another run in the visitor’s half of the third when Bleeker began the inning with his second homer of the game, this one over the center field fence to give the Razorbacks a 7-0 lead.

The Razorbacks closed the scoring with a run in the top of the eighth. After the first two batters of the inning were retired, Anderson singled and Bo Bigham drew a walk to put runners on first and second. Bleeker lined a double into the left field corner, scoring Anderson.

Arkansas and Tennessee continue the three-game series on Friday with first pitch set for 6 p.m. The Razorbacks will start sophomore right hander Ryne Stanek (6-3, 2.99), while the Volunteers will start sophomore right hander Nick Williams (3-4, 3.61).

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