FAYETTEVILLE – Collin Kuhn had three hits and the No. 18 Arkansas baseball team scored six runs in the second inning to take down the Florida Gators in Southeastern Conference action at Baum Stadium on Saturday afternoon, 8-4.
Arkansas (11-3, 2-0 SEC) opens SEC play with two straight wins for the first time since 2000 after going 1-1 in each of the last six seasons. Florida (9-6, 0-2 SEC) was the victim of poor starting pitching for the second straight game.
“In an SEC game, when you have a chance to win one, you better get it.” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “We’ve had a few slip away and came back in some games. We just needed to win that game with whatever it took. I respect the lineup that Florida has because they thought they were in it. Overall, it’s just a big win for us.”
The Razorbacks started where they left off on Friday when they posted six runs in the bottom of the second. Sophomore Brett Eibner led off with a single and moved to second when fellow sophomore Andy Wilkins singled through the left side. Andrew Darr placed a very nice sacrifice bunt up the third base line to move the runners over and with a 1-0 count, Fayetteville native Tim Carver slugged a single to left scoring the first two runs of the inning. A walk to Ryan Cisterna was followed by Collin Kuhn’s second hit of the game, this one a RBI single, and chased the Florida starter from the contest after just 1.1 innings.
With two outs in the second, Arkansas was back at it as senior Ben Tschepikow extended his hitting streak to nine straight games with a single to right-center field, scoring two more Razorback runs and the final run of the inning crossed the plate after a passed ball by the catcher.
The Gators had their chances to come back throughout the contest as they stranded 12 runners on base during the game. Arkansas starter Mike Bolsinger struggled with his command, walking four in 2.1 innings, but the Texas native worked out of trouble as he allowed just two hits and one run before giving the ball to junior T.J. Forrest who’s four innings of work earned him the win. Forrest struck out a career best seven batters as he allowed three runs on three hits.
“T.J. did a great job,” Van Horn said. “He came in and was throwing the ball around the knees. The ball had to be down today if you wanted a strike. He mixed in some good breaking balls and ran into one tough inning where he walked a man and had another hitter 1-2 and hit him with a changeup.”
The Razorback tandem of Justin Wells and Stephen Richards completed the Razorback victory with 2.2 innings of one hit baseball. Richards’ inning of work in the ninth without a run scored is his seventh appearance this season in which he has not allowed an earned run. The junior has thrown 11 innings and surrendered just five hits while walking three and striking out 12. Arkansas’ pitchers as a whole on Saturday whiffed the Gators 12 times and Razorback pitching has fanned 22 in two games.
The Gators, down 6-1 heading into the seventh, scored three runs to pull within two of the Razorbacks, but the Razorback’s would not be denied their second conference win as Wilkins stepped to the plate in the bottom of the inning and knocked a 1-2 pitch into the Florida bullpen to make it a three-run game. The Hogs would tack on another in the bottom of the eighth on a Scott Lyons single to right for their final run.
Offensively, Arkansas pounded out double digit hits for the second straight contest led by Kuhn’s three. Wilkins and Carver posted two hits each while Lyons, Tschepikow, Eibner and Darr all contributed one. Tschepikow and Carver each drove in two runs while Carver and Wilkins scored two runs apiece.
Arkansas and Florida conclude their three game series on Sunday afternoon with a 1:05 p.m. scheduled start. For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.