FAYETTEVILLE – The Arkansas offense broke out with 10 runs, including six in the sixth inning, while freshman Brandon Moore, who was celebrating his 19th birthday, threw six strong innings as the Razorbacks completed a three-game sweep of Utah with a 10-1 win on Sunday afternoon at Baum Stadium.
"I thought we did a good job," Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. "We played solid defense and it was another errorless game, which is always good to see. I’m just real proud of our team, especially our pitching staff. Brandon (Moore) is a freshman and he did a great job his second time out. Then (Cade) Lynch came in and gave us two solid innings and I thought (Nolan) Sanburn came in there and showed us what he’s got too. These are guys that we are not afraid to pitch. We have to have them, but we just have to bring them along slowly."
Arkansas improves to 6-0 on the season with the victory. The Razorbacks are 6-0 to start a season for the first time since 2006 when they started 9-0. Utah is now 0-5 after the loss.
After struggling at the plate the first two games of the series, Arkansas scored 10 times on nine hits in Sunday’s series finale. Freshman Dominic Ficociello enjoyed the best game of his young collegiate career, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and four RBI. Kyle Robinson posted his fifth multi-hit game of the season, finishing 2-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored. Bo Bighamwent 1-for-3 with a RBI and two runs scored, while James McCann drove in a pair of runs and had a hit.
"We talked all along about how we need to chip away, score a run here and score a run there and then we get a chance to put together an inning," Van Horn said. "That’s (the bottom of the sixth) our best inning of the year. We’ve scored two or three a couple of times, but six in one inning with wind blowing in, the bats, it’s tough to do that. I think we got five base hits in a row and two of those were with two strikes. That finished it off pretty good. The momentum was in our dugout."
Celebrating his 19th birthday, Moore was sensational on the mound, earning his second win in as many starts. The freshman right hander threw six innings and gave up just one run on four hits, while striking out four.
Cade Lynch and Nolan Sanburn came on to throw three innings of scoreless relief for the Razorbacks. Lynch threw two innings with two strikeouts, while Sanburn pitched a perfect ninth.
The Arkansas bullpen continued its solid pitching on Sunday with three shutout innings. The Razorback relievers have combined to throw 23 innings so far in 2011 and allow just one run, a solo homer given up by Barrett Astin in Saturday’s game.
Joe Pond took the loss for the Utes to drop to 0-2 on the year. Pond allowed four runs on four hits in five innings. Pond struck out five batters, but also walked six.
Utah jumped out to an early lead for the third straight game, scoring a run in the top of the second. With one out, Josh Alexander walked and then stole second. A ground out to second by Jo Jo Sharrar advanced Alexander to third. Trey Nielsen doubled to the left-center field alley to score Alexander for the first run of the game.
Arkansas responded with a run of its own in the bottom of the second. Bigham drew a one-out walk and moved to second on a stolen base. The throw from the catcher kicked to the right of second base and the shortstop bobbled the ball, allowing Bigham to advance to third on the fielding error. Ficociello drove home Bigham from third with a ringing double off the left field wall to even the game at one.
The Razorbacks grabbed the lead for good with three runs in the bottom of the fifth. Jacob Morris singled to right field to start the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Collin Kuhn. After a walk to Jarrod McKinney, Matt Reynolds popped out to short for the second out of the inning. Robinson singled through the left side of the infield to score Morris. Bigham drew a walk to load the bases with two outs. McCann hit a ground ball to short that looked like it would end the inning, but Bigham hustled to second and was able to beat the throw to keep the inning alive and score McKinney. Ficociello drove in his second run of the day, singling into right field to score Robinson and put the Razorbacks in front 4-1.
Arkansas broke the game open with a six-run sixth inning. Morris led off the inning with a walk and moved to second after Kuhn was hit by a pitch. McKinney attempted to advance the runners on a bunt, but the Utah pitcher was able to field and throw to third to retire Morris for the first out of the inning. Reynolds and Robinson followed with back-to-back singles up the middle, scoring Kuhn and McKinney. Bigham continued the hit parade with a single to left field, plating Reynolds. McCann gave Arkansas its fourth-consecutive hit with a double down the left field line, scoring Robinson. Ficociello closed the scoring in the inning with a two-RBI double down the left field line, scoring McCann and Bigham to put the Razorbacks on top 10-1.
Five different players had a hit apiece to lead Utah offensively. Nielsen drove in the only run of the game for the Utes.
Arkansas plays its first midweek games of the season on Tuesday and Wednesday, hosting McNeese State. Game times are set for 3:05 p.m. both days. Reserved tickets are available for $10 and can be purchased by calling 1-800-982-HOGS (4647), by visiting the online ticket center at ArkansasRazorbacks.com or on game day at Baum Stadium, while supplies last.