FAYETTEVILLE – The No. 7 University of Arkansas baseball team extended its winning streak to 11 games with a 13-5 victory over Georgia Sunday afternoon at Baum Stadium. Bo Bigham was 3-for-4 at the plate with two RBI and Andy Wilkins tallied three RBI in the finale against the Bulldogs. Monk Kreder hit his second home run of the season to push his hitting streak to 19 games, while Zack Cox extended his own hitting streak to 12 contests.
"It was a great weekend for our team," head coach Dave Van Horn said. "We played two solid games on Tuesday and Wednesday that propelled us into this weekend. I was wondering at the beginning of the week if we’d have enough pitching to get through New Mexico. I figured there would be some high-scoring games out here (against Georgia) where we’d have to go through some pitching, but, really, it was high scoring where we did most of the scoring. We pitched well, played pretty good defense, were very aggressive on the bases and, obviously, we did a great job offensively."
The Razorbacks opened the scoring Sunday with a run in the bottom of the first. Bigham and Cox tallied base hits to give Arkansas (31-6, 12-3 SEC) runners on the corners with one out. Wilkins drove Bigham home, his 50th RBI of the season, with a sacrifice fly to right field and the Hogs took an early 1-0 lead.
After retiring the Bulldogs in order in the first, DJ Baxendale ran into some trouble in the top of the second. Georgia (11-25, 3-12 SEC) responded with a run of its own to tie the score. Zach Cone drew a walk to lead off the inning, advanced to third on a base hit by Robert Shipman and eventually came in to score on a sacrifice fly by Zach Taylor. With two on and two out, the visitors looked poised to take the lead with line drive by Christian Glisson but Brett Eibner made a spectacular diving catch in left center for the final out.
"DJ hung a breaking ball and (Glisson) did a good job with it but Brett just made a super catch," Van Horn said. "I think it slowed (Georgia) down. They were getting ready to take a two-run lead. We felt like we were going to score runs and we did a great job of doing that all weekend."
Arkansas tacked on three runs in the bottom of the second to take a 4-1 lead. With one down in the inning, Travis Sample and Tim Carver each drew walks from Bulldog starter Michael Palazzone. James McCann put the Hogs ahead with an RBI single to center. During an at-bat by Collin Kuhn, Georgia appeared to have McCann picked off at first but the Razorback catcher got himself trapped in a rundown; meanwhile, Carver swiped both third and home before the Georgia defenders could make a play at the plate. Later in the inning, Bigham plated McCann with an RBI groundout.
The Bulldogs got one of those runs back in their half of the third. Cone lined a double down the line in left field which allowed Levi Hyams to score the team’s second run of the day.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Hogs capitalized on a pair of Georgia mistakes to add two runs. With runners on the corners, reliever Alex McRee uncorked a wild pitch that brought Carver in to score and allowed Kuhn to advance to second. Later in the inning, Kuhn stole third but the throw to the base from Glisson, the Georgia catcher, ended up in left field and Kuhn was able to score on the error.
TJ Forrest entered the game for Arkansas in the fifth but was greeted with a solo home run by Peter Verdin. Forrest shook off the rough start to his outing and retired the next three to get out of the inning having allowed just the one run. He worked two innings and struck out three on his way to collecting the win.
"We had the lead when Forrest came in and I thought he did a super job," Van Horn said. "He goes 2-0 on the first hitter and gives up the home run. Then he goes 2-0 on the second hitter but after that he was lights out for six straight outs. Obviously, we could have left him in there but we wanted to get some other guys some work. We were just trying to keep our pitchers sharp."
The Razorbacks busted the game open with a six-run fifth inning. Arkansas sent 12 men to the plate during the scoring barrage. Kreder posted the first runs with a two-run shot to left field. The home team only had three hits during the inning but benefited from three walks, two plunked hitters, an error and a wild pitch by Georgia. Wilkins capped the frame with a two-run single that drove in Kuhn and Bigham. Arkansas led, 12-3, after five innings of baseball.
Kuhn scored three runs Sunday, including the Hogs’ final tally of the game. He was 1-for-2 at the plate with a walk but he was also hit by a pitch three times which ties the single-game school record. Kuhn entered the finale against Georgia with an SEC-leading 47 runs scored.
In addition to Baxendale and Forrest, Arkansas used Jordan Pratt, Geoffrey Davenport and Mike Bolsinger to close out the Bulldogs. Each of the final three pitchers worked one inning. Bolsinger allowed a pair of runs in the top of the ninth on an RBI double by pinch hitter Carson Schilling and a base hit by Johnathan Taylor.
The Hogs will take a break from conference play for Tuesday’s midweek contest against Oral Roberts. First pitch of the matchup is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. at Baum Stadium. It will be Arkansas’ only game before the team heads to Gainesville, Fla., for a weekend series with the Gators.