FAYETTEVILLE – For the second-straight game, Arkansas rallied in the late innings, scoring three times in the bottom of the seventh to defeat Utah 5-4 on Saturday afternoon at Baum Stadium.
"When they took a 3-0 lead, it was huge for us to come back in that inning and score," Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. "They hit a monster home run to get that run back and we came back in and scored again to keep the lead at two. We put together a pretty good inning (in the eighth), it could have been a great inning, but it got us the lead. Randall (Fant) wiggled his way out of that inning and I thought DJ (Baxendale) did a heck of a job."
Arkansas improves to 5-0 on the season, while Utah falls to 0-4 with the loss.
The Razorbacks clinched the three-game series with the win and will look for the three-game sweep of the Utes Sunday at 12:35 p.m. Freshman righty Brandon Moore (1-0, 0.00) will take the mound for Arkansas, while Utah is scheduled to throw sophomore right-handed pitcher Joe Pond (0-1, 9.82).
For the second straight game, Arkansas used some late-inning heroics to pick up a victory. Trailing 3-1, the Razorbacks started their comeback with a run in the bottom of the sixth. Matt Reynolds led off the inning by reaching on an infield single off the pitcher’s leg. After the next two batters were retired, Reynolds moved into scoring position, stealing second base. James McCann drove home Reynolds with a single to right field to cut the Utah lead to 4-2.
An inning later, Arkansas plated three runs to take the lead for good. Tim Carver led off the inning with an infield single and Jacob Morris followed by drawing a four-pitch walk. After Carver stole third, Collin Kuhn doubled to the left-center field gap, scoring Carver from third and moving Morris to third base. Jarrod McKinney drew a base on balls to load the bases with nobody out. Reynolds tied the game with a RBI single to left field. Kuhn came across to score the game-winning run when Kyle Robinson grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
Utah had its best chance to tie the game in the top of the eighth. With runners at first and second and no one out, Randall Fant retired the next three Utah batters, including two via strikeout to keep the Arkansas lead at 5-4.
DJ Baxendale, pitching for the second-straight game, tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning to preserve the one-run victory.
Kuhn had two hits and two RBI to lead the Arkansas offense in the win. McCann and Reynolds were each 2-for-4 with a RBI.
C.J. Cron had a big day at the plate for the Utes, going 2-for-4 with two home runs, three RBI and two runs scored. Jo Jo Sharrar added a pair of hits and drove in a run.
Barrett Astin earned the first win of his collegiate career in relief. Astin tossed 3.2 innings, giving up just one run on five hits with a strikeout. Baxendale picked up his first save of the season, pitching a perfect inning with a strikeout.
Fant also had a scoreless inning in relief, fanning two and walking one. Geoffrey Davenport started for Arkansas and received a no decision, allowing three runs, all earned, on three hits with 3.1 innings.
Stephen Streich suffered his first loss of the season for the Utes, allowing two runs on a hit, while not retiring a batter. Zach Adams pitched well for Utah in his starting role, but received a no decision, giving up a run on three hits with eight strikeouts.
For the first time this season, the Razorbacks failed to score first as Utah struck for a run in the top of the second. Shaun Cooper drew a walk to lead off the inning and advanced to second after Cody Guymon reached on an error by Eric Fisher at first base. After Josh Alexander grounded into a double play, Sharrar drove in Cooper from third with a RBI single to center.
The Utes tacked on two more runs to their lead in the top of the third. Tyler Relf reached second on a throwing error by Carver to lead off the inning. A ground out to short moved Relf to third with one out. With the infield in, Michael Beltran hit a ground ball to third and Reynolds threw to the plate to retire Relf for the second out of the inning. Arkansas was unable to get out of the inning unscathed as Cron hit his first home run of the day, a two-run blast to left field to put Utah in front 3-0.
Arkansas got on the scoreboard with a run in the bottom of the third. Fisher walked to start the inning and moved to second on a base hit by Morris with one out. Kuhn singled through the left side of the infield, scoring Fisher from second base.
Utah regained a three-run advantage with a run in the top of the sixth. Cron led off the inning with his second homer of the game, a towering solo shot over the left-center field wall.