FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – No. 9 Arkansas exacted a little revenge on Tuesday night with a 10-2 win over Oral Roberts in front of 4,872 fans at Baum Stadium.
The Golden Eagles (7-9) beat the Razorbacks twice last season, including an NCAA Fayetteville Regional game. But the Hogs (14-5) came out and established an early lead and cruised to the win.
On the mound, Duke Welker worked a career-high six innings to improve to 3-0 on the year. He allowed just three hits to the Golden Eagles while striking out three. Stephen Richards, Dallas Keuchel and Chad Pierce all worked one scoreless inning of relief.
Erik Crichton fell to 0-4 on the season after allowing five runs on seven hits over five innings. He walked four and struck out four. Chris Ashman came on in relief and allowed two runs in two innings and Carlos Luna allowed three runs in one inning.
Ben Tschepikow led the Hogs’ 12-hit attack, going 2 for 3 with a home run and a career-high four RBI. Forsythe was 2 for 4 with three runs scored. Kelly Minissale led ORU with two hits and Brian Van Kirk has the only RBI.
The Razorbacks jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a two-out double into the left-center field gap by catcher Jeff Nutt. ORU starter Erik Crichton walked the first two batters of the game but then snared Casey Coon’s hard grounder up the middle to start a rally-killing double play.
Two throwing errors by Hogs’ second baseman Tschepikow allowed ORU to tie the game at 1-1 in the top of the second inning.
Arkansas went right back out on top 3-1 in the bottom half of the second inning with three straight singles from Forsythe, Tim Smalling and Tschepikow. Smalling and Tschepikow both plated runs with their opposite-field singles.
Welker retired the first two outs of the third inning before running into trouble. Minissale reached on an infield hit to second base and then Welker plunked Jake Kahaulelio with a 0-2 curveball. Brian Van Kirk followed with a RBI single through the left side of the infield to cut the Hogs’ lead to 3-2.
Jacob Julius connected for his second home run of the season to lead off the fourth inning. The solo shot landed in the Razorbacks bullpen in left field for his seventh RBI of the season. Tschepikow plated the Hogs’ second run of the inning with a RBI ground out that scored Forsythe.
Stephen Richards came on in relief of Welker in the seventh and got a lot of help from defensive replacement Stephen Robison in center field. Robison ran down the first out of the inning deep in the right-center field gap. And then with runners on first and second base, Robison tracked down a ball in the left-center field gap to end the inning.
Tschepikow then uncorked his first home run of the season with one out in bottom of the seventh inning. He lined a 1-1 pitch from ORU ace Chris Ashman over the visitor’s bullpen in right field.
The Razorbacks put the nail in the Golden Eagles’ coffin with three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, highlighted by Stephen Robison’s first home run of the season. Tschepikow also lined a single through the right side to score Forsythe for a 10-2 lead.
Arkansas travels to Kentucky this weekend for the opening SEC conference series of the season. Friday’s game is slated for 5:35 p.m. with Saturday and Sunday’s games at noon.