FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Andy Wilkins had two hits and three runs batted in, including a solo home run in the first inning, to pace the Arkansas baseball team to a 12-6 win over Western Illinois on Monday night at Baum Stadium; wrapping up the regular season for both clubs.
Arkansas (34-22) now awaits its post season fate which lies in the hands of the NCAA Regional selection committee. The Razorbacks currently hold an RPI in the mid 20s which is typically good enough to make the 64-team field. Western Illinois (20-31) now travels to Tulsa to play in the Summit League Championship Tournament.
The Razorbacks started early with their runs, plating four in the bottom of the first inning. Back-to-back walks were issued to Ben Tschepikow and Logan Forsythe putting runners at first and second. Casey Coon came to the plate and with the second baseman shading toward the bag; Coon hit a line shot to right field which would have scored Tschepikow. The right fielder overran the ball as he tried to make a play and it rolled all the way to the wall. Forsythe would come around to score easily and Van Horn waved Coon around third. The relay from the outfield would arrive at the plate simultaneously with Coon, but a nice slide by the veteran allowed him to score on the three-base error. Two pitches later, Andy Wilkins hit a blast over the right field wall and it was a 4-0 Arkansas lead.
Arkansas would score another seven runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Chase Leavitt led off by getting hit by a pitch and scored on a Tschepikow double to the left-center field gap. A single by Forsythe scored Tschepikow for Arkansas’ second run and a walk to Coon and double down the right-field line by Wilkins made it a four-run inning. Jeff Nutt’s RBI single to center scored Wilkins from third base and a double by Leavitt scored two more Razorback runs.
Western Illinois got five runs back in the top of the sixth with four hits and two walks. The big hit was a bases loaded three-RBI double off the bat of Drew Laidig.
After the Razorback bullpen was tagged for those five runs, the Razorbacks came back with another run in the bottom of the sixth. After walking with one out, Forsythe would move to third on a single and walk and score on a ground out to second.
The Razorbacks received superb starting pitching from Sam Murphy who threw five innings and gave up just three hits and no walks. His 63 pitches included 41 strikes and three strikeouts. The effort gave Murphy his third win as a Razorback. Travis Hill pitched the final four innings for Arkansas to earn his fourth save of the season.
Five Razorbacks had two hit days: Wilkins, Leavitt, Forsythe, Coon and Tim Smalling.
The 2008 Arkansas baseball regular season may have ended, but the Razorbacks are hoping to continue play at a NCAA Regional in two weeks. The Hogs hope to be a member of the 64-team field which will be announced on Monday, May 26 at 11:30 a.m. central on ESPN. For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics please visit www.hogwired.com.