FAYETTEVILLE – Sophomore Andy Wilkins and senior Ben Tschepikow each belted three hits to lead the No. 21 Arkansas baseball team to a 9-6 win over Valparaiso at Baum Stadium on Wednesday night completing a two-game sweep of the Crusaders.
The Razorbacks (7-1) led late but for the second game in a row Valparaiso (4-3) came storming back to make the 2,217 in attendance nervous. In the end, Arkansas’ lead was too much and the Razorbacks completed their second series sweep of the season and won their fourth straight game.
“You have to give them credit,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “They were scrappy and were playing hard. We got some pitches up and they hit some balls hard. On the other side, we didn’t pitch real well down the stretch. Sometimes that happens. We just didn’t finish the way we wanted to.”
Wilkins also drove in four runs and walked to have a nearly perfect night at the plate as he crushed his fourth home run of the season in the first inning and stroked a double to drive in another in the third. Tschepikow hit his first triple of the season and knocked out a couple of singles. He also scored two runs and drove in two more.
“[Wilkins and Tschepikow] have been doing a really good job, hitting in the three and four hole,” Van Horn said. “They are driving in runs and starting rallies. Andy has been our big RBI guy so far and that is what we just talked about. We have two or three guys a game that are giving us really good at bats but we need four, five or six to put together good at bats and big hits, then we’ll get that offense rolling. I think that the guy that stood out for me tonight was Collin Kuhn who was on base five times tonight.”
Kuhn was the Razorback catalyst as he hit a single and a double in two at bats and walked three times allowing him to score a career best four runs. Kuhn also drove in a run.
On the mound, sophomore Brett Eibner looked very good as he pitched a season best four innings and matched his career best for strikeouts with six. The Woodlands, Texas, native is typically Arkansas’ starting center fielder, but concentrated solely on pitching Wednesday and the change paid off as he allowed just two hits over his four innings of work and no runs.
“He threw the ball extremely well,” Van Horn said of Eibner. “He spotted his fastball, started getting on top of his breaking ball and got some depth on his curve ball. He looked like someone that can really help us on the mound. We had him on a pitch limit and wanted him to go five, but there was no reason to rush it. He definitely looked like an SEC pitcher to me.”
The Razorbacks scored in six of their eight trips to the plate starting in the first when Wilkins crushed a 1-2 pitch with two outs over the trees behind the visitor’s bullpen into the wind. Wilkins would then drive in Arkansas’ third run of the game in the third on a double to the wall in left-center field.
Arkansas’ two-run fourth inning was started when Scott Lyons hit the first of his two doubles in the game. He would later score on a flare single by Kuhn who would then score on Tschepikow’s triple. Lyons’ second double of the game came in the fifth inning and scored Andrew Darr for Arkansas’ sixth run.
The Hogs eventual game-winning hit came off the bat of Tschepikow who singled in the sixth to score Kuhn from second after the redshirt freshman walked and stole a base.
The Razorbacks return to the diamond on Friday evening when they host the California Bears at Baum Stadium at 6:35 p.m. For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.