FAYETTEVILLE – Kyle Robinson hit a first inning grand slam to jump start the Arkansas offense and starting pitcher Cade Lynch threw four strong innings as the Razorbacks defeated McNeese State, 8-3, on Wednesday afternoon at Baum Stadium.
"We played well today," Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. "We jumped on them early and we came out, I thought, with a lot better mind set today than yesterday. We hit the ball pretty well."
With the win, Arkansas splits the two-game midweek series with McNeese State and improves to 7-1 on the season. The Cowboys drop to 4-6 with the loss.
Robinson continued his hot hitting to open the season, recording his seventh multi-hit game in the first eight games of the season. Robinson finished the contest 2-for-4 with four RBI, his first home run of the season and two runs scored. Before his strikeout in the sixth inning, Robinson had reached base seven consecutive plate appearances and had six consecutive hits. For the season, Robinson is hitting .531 (17-for-32) with a team-leading 14 RBI.
"We knew he (Robinson) could hit," Van Horn said. He had a really good fall. He might have been our leading hitter in the fall for average and power. You don’t ever expect anybody to get off to this hot of a start. It’s good to see other guys start to swing it too. I think (Matt) Reynolds is starting to swing the bat real well along with a couple of others."
Matt Reynolds added two hits with two runs scored, while Dominic Ficociello went 1-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored.
Lynch earned his first win as a Razorback, tossing four innings and allowing a run on three hits with five strikeouts. In three appearances this season, Lynch has allowed just one run in 10 innings, while striking out a team-leading 14 batters.
Randall Fant, Zack Hall, Colby Suggs and DJ Baxendale each had a scoreless outing out of the Arkansas bullpen. Fant threw two shutout innings with a strikeout. Hall and Suggs each tossed a shutout inning in their first outings of the season. Baxendale picked up his second save of the season, retiring the only batter he faced in the ninth inning.
McNeese State starter Ross Rowland took the loss, giving up six runs on three hits in 2.1 innings.
Taylor Drake had two hits and drove in two runs to lead the Cowboys offensively, while Seth Granger also had a two-hit game.
Arkansas jumped on McNeese State from the outset, scoring four times in the bottom of the first. Bo Bigham was hit by a pitch to start the inning and moved to second on a single by Jacob Morris. Reynolds loaded the bases on a bunt base hit. Robinson unloaded the bases with his first home run as a Razorback, a line drive grand slam over the left-center field wall to put Arkansas in front 4-0.
The Razorbacks added on to the lead in the bottom of the third, scoring three more runs to take a 7-0 lead. Morris drew a leadoff walk and moved to second after Robinson was hit by a pitch with one out. After James McCann popped out to second, Ficociello singled to right field, scoring Morris from second base. Jake Wise then smacked a liner that hit off the pitcher’s leg and caromed into right field for a base hit, plating Robinson. Matt Vinson drove home Ficociello with a RBI single to right field for the third run of the inning.
McNeese State got on the board with a run in the fourth. With one out, Lee Orr walked and moved to second on a base hit to center by Granger. Drake followed with a single to center, scoring Orr.
Arkansas answered with a run of its own in the bottom of the fourth. With two out, Reynolds and Robinson hit back-to-back singles and McCann walked to load the bases. A walk to Ficociello scored Reynolds for the eighth Razorback run.
McNeese State was able to push across two runs in the top of the ninth. Granger hit a RBI single to right-center field and Drake singled to left field to account for the two Cowboy runs in the inning. McNeese State would load the bases with two outs, but Baxendale was able to come in and get Matt Williams to fly out to center field to end the contest.
Arkansas closes its 11-game, season-opening homestand this weekend with a three-game series against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. First pitch is set for 3:05 p.m. on Friday, 2:05 p.m. on Saturday and 1:05 p.m. on Sunday. Reserved tickets for all three games of the series 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.