Baseball Keeps Rolling On Record-Setting Night

BY David Beall

Box Score (PDF)  |  Photo Gallery

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas baseball team (26-17, 11-9) put together a pair of three-run innings and cruised to a 6-1 victory over Mississippi State (22-21, 6-14) in a record-setting Saturday evening at Baum Stadium.

The Razorbacks continue a torrid stretch in the month of April, having won 12 of 15 games, including seven of their last eight contests. Arkansas clinched its SEC-best fifth straight conference series with the victory, giving the Razorbacks five consecutive SEC series wins for the first time since the 2004 season when the team went on to advance to the College World Series.

Arkansas fans turned out in droves for the game and set the Baum Stadium record for paid attendance at 12,589, besting the previous mark of 11,742 last season against Auburn. The Razorbacks finished No. 2 in the country last year in attendance and have ranked in the nation’s top five each of the last 10 seasons. The actual attendance of 10,837 is the third largest in the history of the stadium.

Dominic Taccolini set the tone early, tossing up zeros in the first four innings before the offense finally broke through in the fourth frame, using a two-out two-run double from Brett McAfee to put the Razorbacks on the board with a 2-0 lead. Carson Shaddy added to the lead with a bases loaded hit by pitch to cap the three-run frame.

After Mississippi State scored its lone run of the game in the top of the seventh, Arkansas came right back with a knockout punch in the bottom of the inning, scoring three more runs courtesy of RBI singles from Tyler Spoon and McAfee, while pinch hitter Chad Spanberger recorded an RBI with a groundout, sending the Razorbacks to their 12th victory in the month of April.

Taccolini (6-3) picked up the victory in 6.2 innings of work, allowing one run on four hits, while striking out five. Lance Phillips recorded the final out of the seventh inning, before James Teague worked a scoreless eighth and ninth inning to seal the win.

McAfee ended the day 2-for-4 at the plate with a career-high three runs batted in, while Spoon added two hits of his own, scored a run and drove one in. Andrew Benintendi saw his five-game hitting streak snapped, but continued to get on base as he worked two walks and scored two more runs.

Arkansas will go for the series sweep of Mississippi State on Sunday afternoon with first pitch set for 1:05 p.m. at Baum Stadium. The Razorbacks are looking for their first three-game series sweep since the third week of the season against Eastern Illinois.

Coach Dave Van Horn on Dominic Taccolini: “A gutty performance by Dominic Taccolini.  Early in the game they had runners at second and third, nobody out and I think a little bit of that experience he gained last year as a reliever comes out and he made some terrific pitches and got a strikeout.  It kind of propelled us a little bit into that three-run inning we put together in the fourth.  He fought through it and got us another three innings.”

Van Horn on Arkansas’ recent success:  “Whenever things are going your way, usually your pitcher is doing a pretty good job with runners in scoring position.  When we turned this thing around a month ago, it’s because of our pitching.  The offense has been pretty steady all year.  The defense has been steady.  Once that pitching kicked into gear and guys started backing each other up, coming out of the bullpen, getting the job done and making other teams earn it, we started winning games.”

Van Horn on tonight’s record-setting crowd: “Appreciate the crowd tonight.  It was incredible.  I was projecting 9,000-10,000, but 12,000—that’s big time so I think all them for coming out.  It was electric down there on the field and they helped us.”

Junior infielder Brett McAfee on scoring runs early:  “That was huge.  Not a whole lot going on offensively at first.  To strike first and get some momentum going, that was huge.  Dominic was throwing the ball real well and it was nice to be able to give him some support out there offensively.”

Sophomore RHP Dominic Taccolini on his pitching performance: “The first couple pitches in, I got a runner on second and third and I thought it was going to be a grind from then on, but after that inning I got ahead in the counts.  I got a lot of easy outs.  I just built momentum from that.  The hitters picked me up and got a bunch of runs and I settled in from there.”

Game Notes

  • The paid attendance of 12,589 is a Baum Stadium record.
  • The actual attendance of 10,937 is the third largest in stadium history.
  • Arkansas is the only team in the league to win each of its last five conference series.
  • The Razorbacks have won five straight SEC series for the first time since the 2004 season.
  • Arkansas improves to 19-17 all-time against Mississippi State in Fayetteville.
  • The Razorbacks have recorded 15 of their 34 RBI’s with two outs over a five-game span.
  • Arkansas has scored at least four runs in 13 consecutive games.
  • The Razorback defense has only committed one error in the last eight games, compiling a .997 fielding percentage.
  • Arkansas improved to 14-2 when allowing two runs or less.
  • Brett McAfee recorded a career-high tying three RBI.
  • Andrew Benintendi has reached base safely in 16 straight games and in 15 of his last 17 plate appearances.

For more information on Arkansas baseball, follow @RazorbackBSB on Twitter.