For the most part, Arkansas’ offense struggled Sunday, but a pair of veterans delivered for Dave Van Horn in a big spot late and turned out to be the deciding factor in the game.
Arkansas only mustered one hit through the first six innings of the game, but back-to-back clutch hits from Joe Serrano and Brian Anderson in the seventh gave Arkansas a 5-3 lead. Arkansas would tack on three more runs in the eighth inning, pushing the final score to 8-3 to seal the series sweep.
After Clark Eagan, who pinch hit for third baseman Bobby Wernes in the seventh inning, was hit by a pitch, freshman Andrew Benintendi laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving Eagan into scoring position. Serrano then laced a double to left, scoring Eagan.
“Well, they brought in a new pitcher, and I was seeing him well in warm-ups,” Serrano said. “I feel like I saw all of his stuff, and just got up there and tried to figure out a good swing.”
Anderson then came to the plate and singled to center, scoring Serrano and giving Arkansas the lead for good. Anderson finished the game 1-for-4 at the plate, but came through in a big spot.
Benintendi also contributed from the leadoff spot with a pair of RBIs despite going 0-for-2 at the plate. He walked twice, once bringing in a run, and brought another run across with a groundout to first base in the eighth inning.
But Arkansas had to find ways other than hitting to get runners on base. As a team, Arkansas drew seven walks and was hit by pitches six times versus just three strikeouts. For the series, Arkansas was hit by 12 pitches and Appalachian State was hit seven times.
Arkansas made Appalachian State pay for the hit-by-pitches, all of which came against the 7-9 hitters in the lineup. Three different Razorbacks occupied the nine spot in the lineup in the game, and all were plunked by pitches.
The Mountaineer pitchers hit batters at the bottom of the Arkansas lineup, giving the top of the Razorback order opportunities to do damage. And Serrano and Anderson made them pay late.
“That was a strange game,” head coach Dave Van Horn said postgame. “It was a game I thought we just toughed it out.”
Tyler Spoon had the only other Arkansas hit, an RBI double in the first inning.
Freshman Alex Phillips got the start on the mound Sunday and threw three innings, gave up three hits, two earned runs and fanned three. The Arkansas bullpen was fantastic in relief of Phillips, retiring the Mountaineer lineup in order from the fifth through eighth inning.
“We won three different ways,” Van Horn said. “That’s baseball. You’ve just got to find a way to win.”
Jacob Stone earned the win for Arkansas, his first in a Razorback uniform. The win was also the 2,000th in program history.
Arkansas returns to Baum Stadium next weekend against Eastern Illinois for a three-game set.