FAYETTEVILLE – The No. 25 Arkansas baseball team won its 20th consecutive season opener with a 12-2 defeat of Appalachian State on Friday in front of an announced attendance of 7,203. The win also was the program’s 400th victory inside Baum Stadium.
Starting pitcher Jalen Beeks threw six shutout innings, allowing just three hits, to earn the win in his first start as a Razorback. The junior team captain from Prairie Grove, Ark., threw 72 pitches, 50 for strikes, in an efficient six-inning effort. Juniors Jackson Lowery and Lance Phillips also threw one shutout inning each in relief.
Juniors Brian Anderson, Krisjon Wilkerson and Joe Serrano led the way offensively for Arkansas. Anderson was 3-for-5 at the plate with two doubles and three RBI, all of which came on a bases-clearing double in the 4th inning that chased Appalachian State starter Jamie Nunn. Wilkerson was also 3-for-5 and hit a two-run homer in the 3rd inning to give Arkansas a 5-0 lead. Serrano was 3-for-3 with two runs scored and also registered an RBI on a sacrifice fly in the 5th to push the Razorback advantage to 9-0.
Arkansas returns to action Saturday at 12:05 p.m. for the middle game of the season-opening, three-game series with Appalachian State. The teams conclude the series Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
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Coach Van Horn QuotesArkansas Head Coach Dave Van Horn (On LHP-Jalen Beeks) — “I thought he did a great job. He had good stuff. He actually to me looked like the 5th and 6th inning, the last couple innings, he really got into a groove. The 6th inning was probably his best inning. We just asked him to go out there and attack the zone and get ahead of hitters and let us play defense.”
Arkansas Head Coach Dave Van Horn (on the offensive success) — “We did a tremendous job laying off borderline pitches early in counts. We got into hitters’ counts, fouled a lot of pitches off, and we got their starter’s pitch count up big time. I was really impressed with the way we handled ourselves in the batter’s box. We didn’t give up any at bats. We battled and did a good job. It’s just one game, but we faced a pitcher that had a lot of experience and threw a hard sinker.”
Game Notes-Jalen Beeks produced the longest outing by a Razorback starting pitcher on opening day since 2009, when Dallas Keuchel threw six innings in Arkansas’ 4-2 victory over Washington State.
-This marks the second straight season opener with a Razorback homering in his Arkansas debut. Krisjon Wilkerson hit a two-run home run into the visitor’s bullpen in right field tonight. Last season, Eric Fisher hit a solo home run in Arkansas’ 9-1 defeat of Western Illinois.
-Krisjon Wilkerson’s home run also made Friday the third straight season opener a Razorback has hit his first collegiate homer. Prior to Wilkerson, Eric Fisher homered in 2013 and Jacob Morris knocked his first collegiate round-tripper in the 2012 season opener.
-Brian Anderson and Tyler Spoon each reached 50 RBI in their careers during Friday’s game. Anderson hit a three-RBI double for his 48th, 49th and 50th as a Razorback, and Spoon had an RBI single to reach the milestone.
-Jake Wise scored the 50th run of his Arkansas career in the 5th inning.
-The Razorbacks’ 12 runs scored were the most in a season opener since a 13-3 win over Dallas Baptist in 2005. The 10-run margin of victory was the highest for Arkansas since an 11-1 defeat of Tennessee on May 11, 2013, and the highest in a season opener since 2005.
-Arkansas won its 400th game in Baum Stadium. Since the stadium opened during the 1996 season, the Razorbacks are 400-158 (.717).
-Arkansas won its season opener for the 20th consecutive season, a streak that began in 1995. Since 1960, the Razorbacks are 44-11 (.800) in season openers. Arkansas also improved to 246-73-1 (.770) in February since 1960.
-10 student-athletes make their Arkansas debut in Friday’s game. They were Andrew Benintendi, Krisjon Wilkerson, Bobby Wernes, Clark Eagan, Blake Baxendale, Garrett Rucker, Josh Alberius, Jackson Lowery, Dominic Taccolini and Lance Phillips. The Razorbacks entered the season with 27 student-athletes who had not appeared in a game for Arkansas, the highest number in the SEC.
-Before the game, junior second baseman Brian Anderson was named to the Golden Spikes Award Watch List. The Golden Spikes Award is presented to the top amateur baseball player in the country. The Edmond, Okla., native also was named a second-team preseason All-American before the season.
How They Scored-Arkansas 1, Appalachian State 0; Bottom 1st: Tyler Spoon singled to left field to score Joe Serrano from third base.
-Arkansas 3, Appalachian State 0; Bottom 1st: Brett McAfee singled to left field to score Brian Anderson from third base and Tyler Spoon from second base.
-Arkansas 5, Appalachian State 0; Bottom 3rd: Krisjon Wilkerson homered to right field to score Tyler Spoon from first base.
-Arkansas 8, Appalachian State 0; Bottom 4th: Brian Anderson doubled to left center field to score Bobby Wernes from third base, Andrew Benintendi from second base and Joe Serrano from first base.
-Arkansas 9, Appalachian State 0; Bottom 5th: Joe Serrano hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Brett McAfee from third base.
-Arkansas 11, Appalachian State 0; Bottom 5th: Jake Wise scored from third base and Andrew Benintendi scored from second base on an error by the center fielder.
-Arkansas 11, Appalachian State 2; Top 8th: Dillon Dobson singled to center field to score William Head from third base and Matt Brill from second base.
-Arkansas 12, Appalachian State 2; Bottom 8th: Bobby Wernes hit into a fielder’s choice that scored Krisjon Wilkerson from third base.