FAYETTEVILLE – The No. 14 University of Arkansas baseball team broke out of a two-game slump with a 21-2 win over South Dakota State Wednesday afternoon at Baum Stadium. Bo Bigham, in his second game back in the starting lineup, tied a career mark with three hits and a career-high four RBI.
Matt Vinson also drove in four runs against the Jackrabbits, while James McCann tied a career high with three base hits. Seven Razorbacks had at least two hits and six posted multi-RBI performances. Arkansas’ 21 runs, helped in large part to a 10-run eighth inning, are the most since the team scored 20 against Mississippi State last season (March 27, 2009). The Hogs move to 9-3 on the season, matching their start to the 2009 campaign, and South Dakota State drops to 6-3.
"Yesterday was a hard loss for our team, especially with losing on Sunday and leaving all those runners out there," head coach Dave Van Horn said. "But today was a different story with the bases loaded. I think we had a sac fly and a couple of base-clearing hits. We did a good job"
After a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the first by starter Randall Fant, the Razorback offense gave its pitcher a 2-0 lead in the home half of the frame. In the leadoff spot for Wednesday game, Collin Kuhn opened the game with a walk. Zack Cox put the Hogs on top with a two-run blast to right field. The home run was the second of the season for Cox and extends his hitting streak to 12 games.
Kuhn pushed the Razorbacks’ lead to three with a solo home run in the bottom of the second with two outs. It is his first long ball of the season, and first since his two-homer game at Alabama last season (May 9, 2009). Kuhn has reached base in all 12 games this season.
Making the first start of his career, Fant was strong in three innings of work. The freshman lefty didn’t allow a hit, walked one and struck out three South Dakota State hitters. Fant threw 24 of his 38 pitches for strikes. On a limited pitch count, the Texarkana, Texas, native earned the win.
"He pitched three solid innings and had the lead when he came out," Van Horn said. "If he was healthy, we would have let him go a couple more innings. I thought he showed how good his changeup is. He’s got a good arm and if he starts locating that fastball, he could be a force for us this year."
The Jackrabbits scored a pair of unearned runs off reliever TJ Forrest in the fourth. Zach Briggs and Erik DeJong each had RBI singles in the inning. At that point, the Hogs’ lead was down to 3-2.
Arkansas pushed its lead to four after scoring a run in the fourth and plating three in the sixth. Designated hitter Kyle Robinson, making his first career start, walked to lead off the fourth inning and eventually came around to score on a single by Bigham.
Carver led off the sixth with a hustle double, speeding into second on a hit that landed in front of the South Dakota State center fielder. Bigham sacrificed the runner to third and Vinson, pinch hitting for Jarrod McKinney, was hit by a pitch to give the Razorbacks runners on first and third. A safety squeeze by Kuhn brought Carver home. Later in the inning, Andy Wilkins doubled to right center to plate Vinson and Cox, who reached via a walk, and the Razorbacks led 7-2.
The Razorbacks added four runs in the seventh. With the bases loaded, Bigham doubled to left field to clear the bases. He advanced to third on a misplayed ball in the outfield. Vinson picked up his first RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly.
Vinson was back at it in the eighth. Arkansas had the bases loaded again when the switch-hitting freshman lined a shot down the line in right field to drive in all three runners. Vinson motored around to third for the Razorbacks’ first triple of the season, and his first hit as a Razorback. Including Vinson and Brett Eibner who was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, seven Hogs-Bigham, Vinson, Kuhn, Wilkins, Eibner, Robinson and Carver-had an RBI in the inning.
"They were down to their last pitchers and we knew that," Van Horn said. "But they can still get you out and our guys acted like they wanted to hit and keep scoring. They didn’t want to make that last out. That was really good to see"
The Razorbacks return to their home field for a three-game series this weekend against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Game one is scheduled for Friday with a 3:05 p.m. start at Baum Stadium. Saturday’s game is set for a 2:05 p.m. first pitch with Sunday’s series finale starting at 1:05 p.m.