FAYETTEVILLE – Andy Wilkins collected a pair of hits and four RBI to lead the No. 16 University of Arkansas baseball team to a 7-6 win over Troy Sunday afternoon at Baum Stadium. The Razorbacks (5-1) scored all seven of their runs in the first two innings, but as it did during game two Saturday, the team from Troy (3-4) put together a run to close the gap before eventually coming up short. DJ Baxendale worked a perfect ninth inning to earn his second save.
"(Today) was the same game," head coach Dave Van Horn said, referring to Arkansas’ win Saturday. "Sometimes that early big inning is not a good thing because sometimes you lose your focus. We had two innings in a row where we saw four pitches-eight pitches total. We hit some balls hard and right at them. (Troy) chipped away. Their pitcher got confident and then they put together their big inning, so obviously when you get a big lead, you have to put somebody away. I think we’re still learning."
Arkansas took early control of Sunday’s contest with a pair of runs in the first inning. Jarrod McKinney reached base after being hit by a pitch to lead off the game and Collin Kuhn followed by drawing a walk out of Troy starter Andrew Dickinson. Wilkins singled in the first run of the game with a base knock to left field. Zack Cox drove in the next run with a grounder to first base to give the Razorbacks a 2-0 lead.
The home team tacked on five more runs in the second to extend its advantage. After back-to-back singles by Travis Sample and Tim Carver to lead off the inning, Matt Vinson collected his first career RBI with a sacrifice fly to deep right field; Sample scored and Carver advanced to second. McKinney singled next and Kuhn was plunked by a pitch to load the bases with one out for Wilkins. The junior slugger cleared the bases with a double down the right-field line. Cox capped the inning with an RBI single and Arkansas had a seven-run cushion after two.
On the mound, starter Brett Eibner pitched three innings without allowing a hit. He struck out three Trojan hitters and walked another three, one of which came around to score on a wild pitch. Sam Murphy made his season debut by relieving Eibner to start the fourth.
Troy put together a five-run inning of its own, highlighted by a T.J. Rivera grand slam in the sixth. Ryan Ditthardt drove in the first run of the inning with a single through the right side. The big blow, however, came off the bat of Rivera with the bases loaded. The Trojan infielder knocked a Jordan Pratt offering into the Arkansas bullpen and cut the Razorbacks’ lead to one.
The visitors looked poised to take control of Sunday’s series finale when, for the second consecutive inning, they loaded the bases with one out in the seventh. Geoffrey Davenport entered the game for Arkansas with two runners on and one out. After giving up a single to Miles Hoyle, Davenport was facing a bases-loaded, one-out situation. The left-handed sophomore answered the challenge by striking out Ditthardt and retiring Chase Whitley on a fly ball to escape the scoring threat and keep the Razorbacks ahead.
After struggling early, the Trojan pitchers steadied to keep their team in the game. The Razorbacks were held to one hit over the final six innings while Troy rallied. Late in the game, however, Arkansas’ bullpen, namely Davenport and Baxendale, responded to keep the Hogs in winning position.
"It was a good weekend because we won all the games," Van Horn said. "We learned a lot about our team and now we have the Big 12 coming in and then we go play the Pac-10. This is a big week coming up."
The Razorbacks return to the field Tuesday for their first midweek game of the season, a matchup with the Kansas Jayhawks. First pitch of the contest is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. at Baum Stadium.