MOBILE, Ala. – Blake Parker and Danny Hamblin both connected for solo home runs as Arkansas opened the season with a 4-1 win over George Mason at the Jaguar Invitational in Mobile, Ala., on Friday.
The Razorbacks received outstanding pitching from junior college transfer Chris Rhoads and played superb defense behind him. Rhoads won his first appearance in a Hogs’ uniform by allowing just one run on four hits in six innings of work.
The right-hander surrendered two of the four hits he allowed in the first inning, including a seeing-eye single between the first and second basemen by Scott Kreiger to give George Mason an early 1-0 lead.
The Arkansas offense struggled to get on track in the season opener with five hits and benefited from a struggling George Mason defense that committed four errors.
“We have to drive in runs,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “Our older guys did not do a good job today and some guys were just trying too hard. I expect us to be better tomorrow.”
Parker got the Hogs on the scoreboard in the second inning with a towering home run to left field to tie the game at 1-1 as the ball cleared the 50-foot high Stanky Field scoreboard. Parker also homered in the 2004 season opener at Dallas Baptist.
The junior from Fayetteville also made his first career start at third base on Friday and recorded five assists at the hot corner.
A Patriots’ throwing error in the fifth inning gave the Razorbacks a 2-1 lead that they would not relinquish. George Mason shortstop Brent Weiss threw wide of first base on a Craig Gentry ground ball that allowed Chris Hollensworth to score from second base.
Hamblin extended that lead to 3-1 in the sixth inning with a leadoff home run to left-center field. The blast was his first of the season and the 19th of his career.
Arkansas tacked on an insurance run in the eighth inning with a squeeze bunt by Stephen Robison. He beat out the play at first and scored Clint Arnold, who led off the inning with a single to right field.
Trey Holloway took over for Rhoads in the seventh inning for his first action since fracturing his elbow at Centenary on March 23, 2004. Holloway worked two-scoreless innings, facing seven batters and not allowing a hit.
Daryl Maday came on to work the ninth inning and earn his first career save. He struck out one and faced the minimum.
Arkansas takes on Oklahoma State Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Stanky Field in the second game of the Jaguar Invitational. The Hogs face host South Alabama on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.