– The Arkansas baseball team fell behind early in the 2008 season opener but timely hitting and a strong-bullpen outing by Dallas Keuchel rallied the Razorbacks to a 9-4 win in front of 681 fans at Baum Stadium.
The win was the 14th-straight season-opening win for the Razorbacks (1-0). The go-ahead hit came off the bat of true freshman designated hitter Andy Wilkins, who connected for a three-run home run on an off-speed pitch with two outs in the fourth inning. The blast put the Hogs on top to stay a 5-4.
Keuchel, a sophomore out of Bishop Kelley High School in Tulsa, Okla., pitched a career-high 5.1 innings in relief of starter James Mahler. Keuchel also tied his career high in strikeouts with six while not allowing a single hit to improve to 1-0.
“Dallas [Keuchel] was the key tonight,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “He came in, threw strikes, had something to prove and he proved it.”
Mahler, a true freshman was rattled early and only lasted 1.1 innings, surrendering four runs on five hits. Justin Wells pitched the final 2.1 innings for Arkansas, holding the Raiders to just two hits while striking out four. Keuchel and Wells allowed just two Wright State hits over the last 7.2 innings.
After falling behind 4-0 in the first inning, junior-college transfer Chase Leavitt got the Razorbacks on track with a two-run, two-out triple into the right-center field gap.
Arkansas added four more runs in the sixth inning, keyed by a two-RBI single through the left side by senior first baseman Aaron Murphree.
Logan Forsythe, Ben Tschepikow and Murphree paced the Hogs’ nine-hit attack with two hits apiece while Wilkins collected three RBI and scored two runs. Forsythe also drew two walks and stole a base.
Wright State jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning, highlighted by Ross Vagedes two-RBI double into the right-center field gap.
The series continues at 1:05 p.m. Saturday as the Razorbacks look to clinch the series against Wright State at Baum Stadium. Shaun Seibert makes his first start of the season, just 338 day after undergoing Tommy John surgery on March 22 of last year.
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