FAYETTEVILLE – In a game that featured seven home runs between the two teams, the No. 4 University of Arkansas baseball team beat Oral Roberts, 9-5, Tuesday night at Baum Stadium. Brett Eibner had his second two-homer performance of the season, moving into a tie for ninth place on Arkansas’ career home run list. Tim Carver and Travis Sample also had a home run for the Hogs in the victory. The win is the 12th in a row for the Razorbacks (32-6).
"The ball was really jumping today in batting practice, too," head coach Dave Van Horn said. "In pre-game, both teams were hitting a bunch out and we noticed it. The ball was carrying, the air was thin, there was a light breeze blowing out but pretty much all those balls were hit pretty good."
Oral Roberts (18-17) posted the first run of Tuesday’s ballgame in the top of the second. Nick Baligod led off the inning with a solo home run to right field off Arkansas starter Randall Fant. It was the third long ball of the season for the Golden Eagles’ outfielder. Eibner made a second big catch in as many games when the next hitter, Seth Furmanek, belted a ball that looked to be ORU’s second dinger of the inning.
"Eibner made a great catch in center," Van Horn said. "I thought it was gone when it left the bat. That’s a case with guys making some bad pitches and some guys taking some good swings. But I’m glad we put together a good inning because that was a game that you don’t want to go down into the ninth inning and have to use a lot of guys. It worked out good for us."
The lead was short lived as Eibner went on the offensive and hammered an offering from ORU starter Jeff Burleson over the fence in left field to tie the score. The Razorback junior now leads the team with 13 home runs.
The long ball continued to be a factor as Oral Roberts plated two more runs in the top of the fourth with a pair of solo home runs. Still facing Fant, Furmanek and Brett Sowers tallied back-to-back home runs to give the visitors a 3-1 lead heading into Arkansas’ half of the inning.
Zack Cox led off the fourth with a double to right center to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. He advanced to third on a pitch in the dirt by Jameson Dunn and eventually came around to score on a second wild pitch by the ORU reliever, which also resulted in a walk to Andy Wilkins. With a runner on first, Eibner struck again with an opposite-field shot to put the Razorbacks on top. After a single by Sample, Carver added to the Hogs’ total with a two-run home run to left to give his team the 6-3 advantage.
The scoring continued in the top of the fifth as Oral Roberts tacked on two runs. With two on and two outs in the inning, Jared Schlehuber lined a ball into center field in front of a diving Eibner. Pinch hitter Chris Elder and Tyler Saladino scored on the play to cut Arkansas’ lead to one run.
The home team got that run back in the bottom of the inning. With two down, Eibner picked up his third hit of the game with a single to left field. Monk Kreder followed with a base hit of his own to push his hitting streak to 20 games. Sample, the Hogs’ next hitter, stroked a single through the right side to plate Eibner and push the lead back to two.
Arkansas added a run in the sixth and seventh innings to give the game its final tally. In the sixth, Collin Kuhn ripped a double down the line in left field. He was brought in to score with a single by Cox. The three-hit performance was the ninth of the season for Cox. Sample posted the Hogs’ final score with a solo shot to left center in the bottom of the seventh. It was his first home run of the season. The Razorbacks extended its double-digit hit streak to 17 games.
"Up and down the lineup we did a pretty good job," Van Horn said. "We need to get Andy going a little bit and work some things out the next couple of days and get ready for Florida, that’s our main focus from about that last pitch."
The Razorbacks used a total of six pitchers against Oral Roberts. After Fant pitched four innings to start Tuesday’s ballgame, the Arkansas bullpen came in to wrap up the win. Jeremy Heatley picked up the win to move to 5-0 on the season. TJ Forrest, Jason Fuqua, Jordan Pratt and Mike Bolsinger all saw an inning’s worth of action in the game. Fuqua made his first appearance since March 9.
Arkansas’ arms combined to post a season-high 15 strikeouts and surrendered just one walk. Fant struck out a career-high five hitters.
"It was good to see Jason Fuqua come in a pitch," Van Horn said. "It was the first time he’s pitched since the arm injury and it looks like he’s going to be able to help us."
The Razorbacks resume Southeastern Conference play Friday in Gainesville, Fla., for the opener of their weekend series against the Gators. Game one is scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. (CT) start at McKetham Stadium with games two and three set for a noon first pitch.