Razorbacks hold off McNeese 7-6

LAKE CHARLES, La. – Matt Reynolds hit his first career home run and Monk Kreder had a three-run double to lead the offensive charge as the No. 16 University of Arkansas baseball team beat McNeese State Wednesday night, 7-6. The Razorback offense scored all of its runs in the first four innings and held off a hard-charging Cowboy club. Zack Cox tied a season high with three hits to extend his hitting streak to 20 games. Collectively, the Razorback pitchers had 14 strikeouts in the victory.

The Razorbacks grabbed the early lead with a pair of runs in the top of the first inning. Collin Kuhn led things off with a single on the first pitch of the game. After a walk to Zack Cox and a pass ball by the McNeese catcher, the Hogs had runners on second and third. Andy Wilkins plated the team’s first two runs with a two-out double to left center.

Arkansas pushed its lead to 4-0 in the second after Reynolds’ two-run blast over the fence in left field. James McCann led off the frame with a single to left field, went on to collect his second stolen base of the season and came around to score on the big fly by Reynolds. With his first home run as a Razorback, the freshman shortstop gave Arkansas the 4-0 lead.

McNeese scored its first run off Arkansas starter Sam Murphy with an RBI single by Jordan Venable in the bottom of the second. Seth Granger crossed the plate for the Cowboys and the Hogs’ lead was cut to 4-1.

The home team put together a three-run inning in the third to tie the game. Arkansas starter Sam Murphy got himself in a bases-loaded jam before the Razorbacks turned to Christian Kowalchuk out of the bullpen. After a balk allowed a run to score, Granger knocked in the next two runs with a triple to right. Kowalchuk steadied and struck out the final two hitters of the inning to escape further damage. The senior lefty picked up the win, his first decision of the year.

In the top of the fourth, the Hogs had a bases-loaded chance of their own. The inning started with a would-be inside-the-park home run but Kuhn was thrown out at the plate trying to stretch his triple into a score. Cox and Brett Eibner had back-to-back singles with two outs and Wilkins followed with a walk. Monk Kreder tallied the big hit with a bases-clearing double to right field. Arkansas led, 7-4.

The game’s scoring continued in the bottom of the fourth with a run by McNeese. Venable led off the inning with a double to left and eventually came in to score the Cowboy’s fifth run on a sacrifice fly by Blake Ellender.

After a couple of quiet innings by both offenses, McNeese got a rally going in the home half of the seventh. The Cowboys loaded the bases and scored a run when Geoffrey Davenport, on in relief of Jordan Pratt, plunked Venable. The Razorback pitcher struck out Josh Cholley to limit the damage to one run, but the Arkansas lead was down to 7-6.

With runners on first and second in the bottom of the eighth for McNeese, the Hogs turned to DJ Baxendale to record the last four outs of the ballgame. The freshman closer got his club out of the inning without allowing a run.

In the bottom of the ninth, pinch hitter Andy Riche led things off with an infield single and, with one out, Venable drew a walk to put the go-ahead run at first, but Baxendale retired the next two hitters to pick up his fifth save of the season.

With their five-game road trip done, the Hogs will return to Fayetteville for a nine-game home stand which begins Friday with game one of a Southeastern Conference matchup with the Alabama Crimson Tide. Game one of the weekend series is scheduled for a 6:35 p.m. first pitch at Baum Stadium. The contest will be aired by Cox Sports Television (CST), channel 119 in Northwest Arkansas.

Download: ark-mcneese game 2 final stats.pdf