FAYETTEVILLE – Andy Wilkins tied a season high with four RBI while Bo Bigham had three hits and scored a career-high three runs as the No. 10 University of Arkansas baseball team defeated Centenary, 18-2, Tuesday night at Baum Stadium. Matt Vinson also collected three hits against the Gents, the first multi-hit game of his career, and Zack Cox tied a career high with three runs scored.
With the win, Arkansas improves to 19-5 and tallies their sixth consecutive victory. Centenary falls to 8-11 on the season heading into Wednesday’s finale.
"It was good to get out there and score some runs," head coach Dave Van Horn said. "We gave up an early run in the first, but (Centenary) did a good job of manufacturing that run without a hit. Then we came back and punched in a couple of runs. I was proud of our guys for being patient and lying off some stuff and then we were able to put together a couple of big innings."
Centenary leadoff hitter Trey McGee led off the game with a walk. After a sacrifice bunt and groundout, he stood at third and eventually came around to score on a wild pitch from Arkansas starter Sam Murphy to give the Gents the early 1-0 lead.
The Hogs responded with a pair of runs in the home half of the first to take the lead. Wilkins plated the team’s first run with an RBI single through the right side, allowing Tim Carver to score from second. Arkansas benefited from a pair of balks by Centenary starter Seth Lugo. With runners on second and third, Lugo’s second balk allowed the Razorbacks’ second run to score.
Wilkins hit his 10th home run of the season, a solo blast to right field, in the bottom of the third to push Arkansas’ lead to 3-1. Adding to his career total, the Broken Arrow, Okla., native now has 37 home runs as a Razorback, the fifth-highest total in program history.
The Gents scored another run without a hit in the top of the fourth. The first two hitters of the inning walked and were moved up a base with a sacrifice bunt by Alex Todd. Centenary picked up its second run of the game on an RBI groundout by Jeff Schaffert that cut the visitors deficit to one run.
However, the offensive barrage began with six runs in the fourth for the Hogs. The first four hitters of the inning reached base, capped by a two-run single by Collin Kuhn. With the bases loaded, an infield error allowed the third run of the frame to score. Monk Kreder continued the inning with another two-run base hit to center field. All told, the Hogs scored six runs in the inning and led, 9-2.
Arkansas extended its lead with a seven-run fifth inning. Vinson and Kuhn led things off with a double and single, respectively, and Carver knocked in the runners with a two-run single. During the inning, Cox extended his hitting streak to 24 games with an infield single. Wilkins picked up his fourth RBI in as many at-bats with a sacrifice fly. The big hit came off the bat of designated hitter Kyle Robinson. The junior college transfer doubled to center field with the bases loaded. Vinson closed the scoring with an RBI single.
With the comfortable lead, Hogs were able to turn their bench to get certain player time on the field. Arkansas used 14 position players, with Kyle Atkins, Matt Reynolds, Derrick Bleeker, Jarrod McKinney and Tom Hauskey, entering the game in the seventh inning. Hauskey collected a pair of RBI in his only at-bat of the contest. Tuesday’s game also featured the first appearance for redshirt freshman pitcher Zack Hall. The Springdale, Ark., native worked the final two innings of the game and totaled one strikeout.
"Sometimes all you need is a chance and you have to show what you can do with it and you may get another one," Van Horn said. "We have played so many close games this year. It’s nice to go out and score some runs and have the opportunity to play some other guys."
The Razorbacks will go for the midweek sweep when the two teams return to the field Wednesday afternoon. First pitch for the contest is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. at Baum Stadium.