FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Duke Welker pitched six-shutout innings as No. 11 Arkansas cruised to a 9-0 win over No. 4-seeded Albany in front of 8,372 fans at a rain-drenched Baum Stadium in the opening round of the NCAA Fayetteville Regional Friday night.
It was the third shutout in the last five games for the Hogs, who improve to 42-19 on the season and will face third-seeded Oklahoma State in the winner’s bracket at 6:37 p.m. Saturday on CSTV.
Welker won his second straight game to run his record to 7-5 on the year. He fanned seven while allowing just two Great Dane hits. Freshman right-hander Evan Cox pitched the final three innings to earn his second save. Cox allowed just one hit in three innings with two strikeouts.
Senior righty John Naples absorbed the loss for Albany after working 3.1 innings and surrendering five runs on seven hits with three walks.
The Razorbacks improve to 37-9 this season when scoring first after Jacob Julius singled home a run with two outs in the first inning.
After a 51-minute rain delay in the top of the third inning, Julius drove home two more runs in the bottom half of the inning with a double down the right field line as the Hogs extended the lead to 3-0.
Logan Forsythe’s three-run home run in the fourth inning was the big blow for the Razorbacks as the four-run inning extended the lead to 7-0. Ben Tschepikow added a RBI single to plate UA’s first run of the inning.
Forsythe’s ninth home run of the season probably would not have left the yard if Great Dane left fielder Mike Konstanty had not lost the ball over the fence after an apparent run-saving catch. Konstanty had the ball in his glove for a split second before slamming into the wall and dropping it over the fence.
Arkansas tacked on two more unearned runs in the fifth inning on RBI singles from Wayne Hrozek – who extended his hitting streak eight games – and Jake Dugger. Hrozek and Dugger both finished the day 2 for 3 with a RBI. Forsythe and Julius both drove in three runs apiece.
The Razorbacks were 7 for 10 at the plate with runners in scoring position with Dugger and Julius both 2 for 2. Arkansas also hit .375 with two outs, including four two-out RBI with three coming from Julius. On the other side, Albany went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and 0 for 9 with two outs.
Arkansas vs. Albany
June 1, 2007
Fayetteville NCAA Baseball Regional
Albany Head Coach Jon Mueller:
“I thought (Duke) Welker commanded all of his pitches really well tonight and threw with good velocity which we had trouble trying to hit. Our errors and their timely hitting early on got us behind the eight-ball and we were never able to mount a comeback.”
“We had some opportunities with runners on third with less than two outs a couple of times, but they were able to pitch out of it and make a few good defensive plays. John (Naples) did not have his best stuff today. I might have pulled him a little early but with the delay I felt like it was the right time.”
Albany Starting Pitcher John Naples:
“When I came back from the delay, I was not as sharp as I was in the first couple of innings. I wish I would have been able to go a little longer but with the delay it was not going to happen.”
Albany Third Baseman Steve Wyland:
“(Duke) Welker is one of the top pitchers I have faced. He pounded the corners with a good velocity but I wish I could face more pitchers like him. I felt like he pitched around me a little in my first couple of at-bats but he did end up hanging a breaking ball. The crowd was big but I did not feel overly intimidated. I expected them to be a bit louder from everything I had heard but they did not affect our team. We just played poorly.”
Arkansas Head Coach Dave Van Horn:
“We got outstanding pitching and solid defense with the field wet. We had a couple of baserunning mistakes, but overall it was a good game.”
(on Julius as DH tonight) “It was a gut feeling. I wanted a little better runner in the lineup. He came through a couple times tonight.”
(on playing Oklahoma State tomorrow) “They’re probably better than last year offensively. They put up big numbers up and down the lineup. They’re a solid team.”
Arkansas Starting Pitcher Duke Welker:
“I was excited to be out there to break the ice for us tonight. I put myself into a jam and then got myself out (in the 4th).”
(on coming back after the weather delay) “I stretched. When I warmed up, I just ran an extra lap.”
Arkansas Designated Hitter Jacob Julius:
(on being the DH tonight) “I had an idea that I’d get an opportunity tonight. I was down 0-2. I knew I needed to battle and scored the first run.”
Arkansas Third Baseman Logan Forsythe:
(On HR in the 4th inning) “I didn’t think it was gone at all. I was just trying to get it into the air into the outfield.”