FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas seemed to click in all facets of the game in the opening game of the Southeastern Conference season on Friday night with a 5-1 win over Georgia in front of 5,137 fans at Baum Stadium.
The No. 19 Razorbacks (12-3) pounded out five runs on 11 hits and played error free defense while the pitching staff held the Bulldogs in check most of the evening. UGA (6-7) managed seven hits but were just 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
“With this being a Friday night game in the SEC, it’s going to come down to a lot of little things,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “It was a great ballgame. We pitched well and to get those runs in the eighth inning was great.
“Getting a win like this is big for our confidence, not just for our pitchers, but also for our position players.”
Brett Eibner led the charge offensively with three hits in four at bats, including his third home run of the season and a two-RBI double in the eighth inning. Logan Forsythe had a season-high three hits and played sparkling defense at third base. His diving start of a double play in the fourth inning killed a one-out, one-out threat by the Bulldogs.
“That was one of best double plays I’ve seen anywhere, Major League or college,” Van Horn said. “To be able to throw from your knee like that and have (Ben) Tschepikow with that quick turn – it was incredible.”
Cliff Springston made his second start of the season and was in complete control from the start. The junior transfer from Baylor allowed just one run on five hits over 5.2 innings with four strikeouts to improve to 4-0.
Kendall Korbal came on for Springston with a two-outs and a runner on second base in the sixth inning. He worked the final 3.1 innings and earn his first career save. He fanned five and did not walk a batter while surrendering just two hits.
Trevor Holder (2-2) pitched well in defeat, allowing just two runs on seven hits with two walks and six strikeouts in 5.1 innings. Alex McRee allowed two more runs in two innings of relief while Stephen Ochs gave up one run in two-thirds of an inning for Georgia.
Georgia struck first in the SEC opener with a two-out rally in the top of the fifth inning with back-to-back doubles from Matt Cerione and Ryan Peisel.
The Hogs responded in the bottom half of the inning with solo home runs from Ryan Cisterna and Eibner to take a 2-1 lead.
The Razorbacks got a little breathing room in the bottom of the eighth inning. Ben Tschepikow was plunked by an Alex McRee pitch to open the inning and after swiping second base moved to third on Ryan Cisterna’s fly ball to center. Tim Smalling then lined a two-strike single through the right side of a draw in infield to go on top 3-1.
Eibner continued his big night with a two-RBI double later in the inning as the Razorbacks opened up a 5-1 lead. Korbal didn’t give the Bulldogs much of a chance in the top of the ninth inning as he worked around a two-out base hit for the save.
The series continues at 12:05 p.m. on Saturday from Baum Stadium as the Razorbacks look to capture the series with a win.