WICHITA, Kan. – Redshirt freshman shortstop Matt Willard was the hero on Tuesday night with a two-out RBI single up the middle in the top of the 11th inning to give No. 13 Arkansas a 4-3 win over No. 17 Wichita State in front of 4,515 fans at Eck Stadium.
It was the first win for the Razorbacks over the Shockers at Eck Stadium since a 3-2 win in 11 innings in the 1998 Midwest Regional. The Hogs improve to 21-5 on the season with their second straight extra-innings win while Wichita State falls to 21-6.
The game-winning single in the top of the 11th inning was set up by a walk to Blake Parker who moved to second on Logan Forsythe’s ground ball to third base.
Hogs’ starting pitcher James Gilbert equaled the longest start of his career with five innings of work. The crafty left-hander allowed five hits and surrendered three unearned runs in the third inning that cost him the decision. He has allowed just one earned run in 19.2 innings this season for a 0.46 ERA.
The Arkansas bullpen came through in the clutch on Tuesday night with six scoreless innings of work. Shaun Seibert got things started with 2.2 innings and did not allow a hit while striking out four Shockers and not issuing a walk. Devin Collis came on and eventually earned the win with 2.2 innings of hitless baseball.
Chris Rhoads earned his second save of the season by recording the final two outs of the game with a single by WSU’s Brian Spear sandwiched between. Third baseman Blake Parker saved the game on the final out by knocking down a laser to the hot corner by Derek Schermerhorn and firing across the diamond for the win.
Arkansas tied the game at 3-3 in the sixth inning with a leadoff home run by freshman Logan Forsythe. The lined shot over the left field was the first home run and first RBI of his career in his 21st career at bat.
The Razorbacks plated a run in the second inning with the help of four base on balls from Shockers’ starter Kris Johnson. The WSU left-hander was lifted from the game without allowing a base hit, but walking five batters in 1.2 innings.
Arkansas extended the lead to 2-0 in the third inning on Danny Hamblin’s RBI single to left field. Chris Hollensworth led off the inning with a double to right-center field, increasing his team-leading total to 13. It was Hamblin’s team-leading 37th RBI of the season.
Forsythe’s error with two runners on and two outs in the third inning led to a bases-clearing double by Derek Schermerhorn to give the Shockers a 3-2 lead. Even the double by Schermerhorn never should have happened as Hogs’ center fielder Craig Gentry broke back on a short fly ball off that ended up falling in short left-center field.
The Hogs return home to host No. 21 Tennessee over the weekend at Baum Stadium. Game times are slated for 6:35 p.m. on Friday, 4:05 p.m. on Saturday and a 12:35 p.m. start on Sunday.