FAYETTEVILLE – After giving up an early run, the No. 16 University of Arkansas baseball team rallied with the help of three home runs to defeat Troy, 10-1, Friday afternoon at Baum Stadium. Andy Wilkins, James McCann and Brett Eibner each had a home run for the Razorbacks, while TJ Forrest picked up the win out of the bullpen. Zack Cox and Tim Carver chipped in with two hits apiece.
Arkansas improves to 3-1 on the young season with the win, while Troy drops its second consecutive game to stand at 3-2.
"I thought both teams played very well," head coach Dave Van Horn said. "We got some big hits and took advantage of some hit batters and walks with a couple of home runs that jump started us. It was just a complete game to our team. We played well, we bunted well, we swung at strikes and it was just a good ball game. We put together a big inning. The game was a lot closer than 10-1."
The Trojans strung together three hits in the first inning, including an RBI single by Chase Whitley, to take an early 1-0 lead. McCann helped limit the damage by picking a Troy runner off first base for the second out. Wilkins handled a grounder to first unassisted for the third out.
Through the first three innings, Troy starter Tyler Ray held Arkansas to a pair of hits-singles by Collin Kuhn and Cox in the first and second, respectively-without allowing a runner to second. The home team was making contact, however, and finally broke through in the fourth inning.
The Razorbacks used the long ball in the bottom of the fourth to take control of the game. Wilkins led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo shot to left center to even the score. The home run was the 29th of his career, leaving him three shy of cracking the program’s top-10 list. With one out and Cox on first after being hit by a pitch, McCann belted a two-run shot to left field to give Arkansas the 3-1 advantage.
With his second home run of the season, the Santa Barbara, Calif., native surpasses his total of one from his freshman campaign a season ago.
Friday starter Mike Bolsinger finished the game with four innings of work, allowing one run on four hits with three strikeouts and two walks. After throwing 27 pitches in the first inning, Bolsinger settled in to keep the Trojans off the scoreboard for the rest of his outing. He worked out of trouble in the top of the fourth, his last inning, with runners on first and third with two outs. Bolsinger struck out Steven Rosado to get out of the jam.
Eibner followed the example of his teammates in the sixth with his first home run of the season, a two-run shot into the Razorback bullpen. Cox led off the inning with a single up the middle and eventually advanced to second on a wild pitch by Ray. With one down, Eibner stepped to the plate and, on a 0-2 count, deposited the ball over the left-field fence to give Arkansas a 5-1 lead.
On in relief of Bolsinger, Forrest worked four scoreless innings with three strikeouts. The senior hurler gave up just two hits and walked one. In two appearances this season, Forrest is 1-0 with a save and a 1.12 ERA.
"The key for us on the mound was TJ," Van Horn said. "He came in and threw lights out. We made a couple of nice plays behind him, too. The pitching was outstanding. I think he walked one all day and made that lead hold up."
Arkansas blew things open in the seventh with a five-run inning, capped by a two-run single by Carver. Four different Razorbacks picked up an RBI during the inning. Monk Kreder had the first with a bases-loaded walk. Cox and Eibner followed with a pair of sacrifice flies to score Kuhn and Wilkins, respectively. Carver’s hit plated McCann and Kreder.
The series between Arkansas and Troy continues Saturday afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. at Baum Stadium. Drew Smyly is penciled in to make his first start of the season, while the visitors will counter with Shane McCain.