Big first leads to Razorback win
FAYETTEVILLE – Freshman Bo Bigham got the Arkansas baseball team started at the plate and redshirt freshman Drew Smyly was dominating on the mound to lead the No. 21 Arkansas baseball team to a 7-3 victory over Valparaiso at Baum Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.
Bigham went 2 for 4 at the plate with a walk, RBI and run scored, but his first inning double down the right-field line was the catalyst for a four-run inning which was all the offense the Razorbacks needed. The Hogs four-run inning is a season best and was capped by fellow first-year player Zack Cox who smoked a double to score two runs including the eventual game winner.
On the mound Smyly looked strong over his career high five innings of work to earn the first win of his career. Striking out two of the first three batters he faced, Smyly scattered five hits over his five innings and gave up one run in the fourth, his first run allowed this season. In potential trouble in that fourth inning, Smyly gave up three straight hits to the Crusaders which scored Valpo’s only run against him, but he then induced a 5-4-3 double play to end the rally.
Arkansas (6-1) scored four runs in the first and tacked on an addition two in the second to give Smyly a comfortable six-run cushion. The Razorbacks would add another run in the bottom of the fourth to match the Valparaiso (4-2) run.
After Smyly, the Razorbacks handed the ball to junior Bryan Bingham who made his first appearance for the Razorbacks. Returning from a rib injury, Bingham was untouchable as he sat down six straight Valparaiso batters tossing just 19 pitches. A rough ninth for the Razorback pitching staff allowed two Valparaiso runners to score and make it a 7-3 game, but another Razorback freshman making his first appearance, Geoffrey Davenport, came in to get two outs with the bases loaded and earn his first save of the season.
Arkansas scored its seven runs on nine hits and got the benefit of three Valparaiso errors. Along with Bigham, Andy Wilkins and Zack Cox each had two hits and two RBI. Senior Scott Lyons was his regular smooth self in the field making seven plays without an error, but also scored two runs as he reached base four times. Other hitters for Arkansas included Ben Tschepikow (1-5, 1 run, 1 RBI) and James McCann (1 for 4).
After the first inning, those in attendance could feel that it was going to be a good day for the Hogs. With one out, Bigham went the opposite way for his double, and then scored on Tschepikow’s single to center. After a stolen base by Tschepikow, Wilkins sent a pitch through the right side for a single to score Tschepikow. A walk to Brett Eibner put runners at first and second for Cox who turned on an inside pitch and pulled it down the right-field line.
The Razorbacks and Crusaders continue their series on Wednesday at Baum Stadium with a 3:05 first pitch. For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.