A win is a win, and that's exactly what the Hogs got against Eastern Illinois on Saturday. Sometimes you need a little help and today the wind was Arkansas' friend.
The first four innings were uneventful. Eastern Illinois' lead off man was able to reach in each of the first three innings, but Arkansas starting pitcher Chris Oliver worked around the runners. No Panther runner made it past second base until the eighth inning. We'll get to that in a minute.
The Hog bats slept in on this nice weather Saturday afternoon. Only two hits through the first four innings as Brian Anderson and Clark Eagan both had singles, but the Razorbacks weren't able to bring anyone home.
The Razorbacks woke up their sticks in the bottom of the fifth. Jake Wise reached on a throwing error by the second baseman. Michael Bernal singled up the middle. A wild pitch advanced both runners to second and third. Then, Andrew Benintendi slapped an RBI groundout to the shortstop to break the scoreless tie, scoring Wise from third. Joe Serrano followed that up with an RBI single to right scoring Bernal. The Diamond Hogs were on the board.
Oliver, like the rest of Arkansas' starting pitchers, had a phenomenal outing. He threw six scoreless innings allowing only four hits, two walks and striking out four. Razorback starting pitchers have now only allowed three earned runs in 25 2/3 innings pitched this season.
Colin Poche came out of the pen for Oliver and threw a scoreless seventh.
The Razorbacks weren't done scoring. After back-to-back singles by Bernal and Benintendi, Joe Serrano lined an RBI single up the middle scoring Bernal from second. After hitting Brian Anderson, the Panthers worked out of the jam by striking out Tyler Spoon and Eric Fisher flying out to center. *Sad trombone*
The Panthers wouldn't go down without a fight (a real Panther probably wouldn't either). Poche struck out the lead off hitter. Then pinch hitter Trey Russell drew a walk and that did it for Poche. Jackson Lowery came in to pitch and gave up a single to another pinch hitter, Montana Timmons. After striking out the clean up hitter Brant Valach, Frankie Perrone lined a single to right scoring Howell and Timmons. Hog fans are not happy at this point. Michael Gunn came in for Lowery and forced the pinch hitter Matt Dunavant to strike out.
With two outs in already in the bottom of the eighth, Jake Wise hit single to keep the Hog alive. Bernal stepped up to the plate and hit a fly ball to right field. The wind was blowing directly in from right field, a misplayed ball by the right fielder resulted in a RBI triple. Bernal then scored on a wild pitch by pitcher Joe Greenfield. Serrano walked, which setup a three-run bomb by Brain Anderson, his first round tripper of the year. I'd call all that "clutch 2-out hitting" with the Hogs able to plate five with two outs.
Gunn threw an uneventful ninth to be the winning pitcher for the Hogs. For what was a slow and lethargic start, Arkansas finally got it going to win 8-3 in front of the biggest crowd so far, 5,286.
Arkansas will get the brooms ready for the opportunity to sweep tomorrow, first pitch is scheduled for 1:05.