ATHENS, Ga. – The top five batters in the Arkansas batting order accounted for 12 hits, while DJ Baxendale threw a career-long seven innings, allowing just one run, as the Razorbacks defeated Georgia 10-4 on a beautiful Friday evening at Foley Field.
The Razorbacks improve to 29-11 and 10-9 in the Southeastern Conference, while Georgia drops to 22-21 and 11-8 in league play. With the win and losses by Auburn and Ole Miss, Arkansas regains first place in the SEC Western Division, a game ahead of both the Tigers and Rebels.
Baxendale was outstanding on the mound for Arkansas, en route to picking up his sixth win of the season. The Jacksonville, Ark., native threw a career-best seven innings, giving up just a run on five hits, while striking out five. After allowing a run on three hits in the first inning, Baxendale settled in to give up just one hit over the next five frames. After Curt Powell singled with one out in the second, Baxendale got into a groove, sitting down 16 straight Georgia batters before Brandon Stephens was hit by a pitch in the seventh.
The Razorback offense was equally as impressive, scoring 10 runs on 15 hits, both team highs in a conference game this season. Seven of the nine starters had a hit, led by leadoff man Bo Bigham, who tied a career high with four hits, while scoring two runs and driving in two runs. Dominic Ficociello and James McCann each had three hits. Ficociello hit his third homer of the season and drove in three runs, while McCann had a RBI and scored twice. Tim Carver went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and also stole three bases. Carver was the first Razorback to steal three bases in a game since Bigham swiped three bags at Mississippi State on April 9, 2010.
Georgia starter Alex Wood took the loss to see his record drop to 4-5 on the season. Wood gave up six runs, just three earned, on 11 hits with four strikeouts in 5.1 innings.
Kyle Farmer, Powell and Conor Welton each had two hits to lead the Bulldog offense. Colby May had a pinch hit, three-run home run in the ninth inning to account for three of the four Bulldog runs.
Arkansas got the scoring started with two runs in the top of the first. Bigham hit a one-hop double off the right-center field fence to start the game and came around to score on McCann’s RBI triple off the wall in right field. Ficociello drove in the second Razorback run of the inning, hitting a two-out single to score McCann.
Georgia was able to get a run back in the bottom of the inning. With one out, the Bulldogs hit three straight singles. The third hit, off the bat of Zack cone, scored Welton. Georgia would eventually load the bases with two outs, but Baxendale struck out Jonathan Hester to end the inning and preserve the Arkansas lead.
The Razorbacks stretched their lead to four runs with three runs in the third. A two-base fielding error by Hester allowed Bigham to reach second to start the frame. Kuhn quickly scored Bigham with a single to center field. After Kuhn stole second base, a base hit to left by McCann advanced him to third. With one out, Ficociello brought home Kuhn with a sacrifice fly to left field. After a walk to Matt Reynolds put runners at first and second, Jarrod McKinney drove in a run with a single to center field to put Arkansas in front 5-1.
Arkansas tacked on another run in the sixth. Carver singled with one out and then stole second and third base. An opposite field single to right by Bigham scored Carver.
The lead was stretched to 7-1 in the seventh when Ficociello lifted a solo home run just inside the foul pole down the right field line for his third round-tripper of the season.
Bigham drove in his second run of the game and the eighth Arkansas run of the contest with a one-out single, scoring Carver. The Razorbacks closed their scoring with two runs in the ninth as Reynolds drove in a run on a groundout and Jacob Rice had a RBI fielder’s choice.
Georgia put together a three-run bottom of the ninth inning with all three runs coming on May’s pinch-hit, three-run home run.
The series between the Razorbacks and Bulldogs resumes tomorrow at 12 p.m. (CT). The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2 and also available on ESPN3.com. Sophomore southpaw Randall Fant (1-2, 2.81) will take the mound for Arkansas, while Georgia will counter with junior right-handed pitcher Michael Palazzone (7-1, 2.38).