FAYETTEVILLE – Brett Eibner has been struggling at the plate, but the sophomore broke out of the slump on Friday night with two hits including a game-winning triple in the bottom of the 10th to push the Arkansas baseball team past Western Illinois at Baum Stadium, 8-7.
Eibner was on base four times on Friday with a single, two walks and the game-winning triple. He drove in two runs and scored two more to make himself a major factor in the outcome.
“Eibner did a great job tonight,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “He was taking his walks and not pressing. On a different night, [the triple] goes out of the ball park. I thought it was going out as soon as it left the bat, but the wind pushed it down.”
The win for the Razorbacks improves their record to 5-1 on the year, a mark that includes three extra inning wins. Western Illinois falls to 0-5.
“It was a good win,” Van Horn said. “It was a little frustrating because we had a four run lead with two outs and we can’t get an out. They hit the ball in the hole, we can’t make a play. They made a nice hustling play to score two. Give them credit, they have a good offense. They swing the bats well and that’s what we were told. We took advantage of some walks tonight. When they walked us, we moved people around and for the most part got them in. We hit a few balls right at them, but other than that they out-hit us and out-played us and I feel real fortunate to win.”
The Razorbacks scratched out eight runs on just six hits to pull out the win, taking advantage of eight walks and an obstruction call. The Hogs looked to be rolling behind the pitching of junior T.J. Forrest who tossed seven innings and allowed just two runs as he scattered seven hits. The outing for Forrest is his longest as a Razorback and the longest by an Arkansas pitcher this season.
“Forrest gave us a chance by going deep into the game,” Van Horn said. “That was nice. He didn’t have his best stuff. He was up with a lot of pitches and they were on some of them. He settled in the middle of the game.”
Western Illinois took advantage of the Razorback bullpen as they scored five runs in the inning, all with two outs. A double down the left-field line began the rally and continued on a pair of throwing errors and another single. The second error of the inning was the back breaker as the errant throw allowed a runner to score from second with the go-ahead run.
Down by one in the bottom of the eighth, the Razorbacks manufactured a run after Eibner earned his second walk of the day. Moving to second on a wild pitch, Eibner raced to third on pinch hitter Jacob House’s sharp grounder to first. Eibner would score on a deep sacrifice fly to right field by Scott Lyons.
Junior Stephen Richards shut the door on the Leathernecks in the ninth and 10th innings to earn his second win in as many games and give Arkansas a chance at the victory. The Razorback 10th opened with a strikeout, but a throwing error by the Western Illinois shortstop on James McCann’s ground ball to first got the crowd back into the game. The next pitch was launched by Eibner off the wall in dead center field and brought McCann around to score the game-winning run.
Senior catcher Ryan Cisterna gave the Razorbacks their first lead of the game when he hit a two-run home run deep to left in the fourth inning to make it 4-2 Arkansas. An inning later, Andy Wilkins roped one down the right-field just inside the foul pole to give the Hogs a 6-2 lead. Sophomore Travis Sample picked up the Razorbacks’ first hit of the game in the third inning, a RBI single through the left side of the infield.
The Razorbacks continue their series with the Leathernecks on Saturday afternoon at Baum Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.