Smyly Hog bats even Kentucky series

FAYETTEVILLE – After a slugfest in game one in which the Razorbacks allowed a season-high run total, Drew Smyly stood atop the mound and quieted the Kentucky bats as the No. 10 University of Arkansas baseball team came away with a 10-1 win Saturday afternoon at Baum Stadium in front of an announced crowd of 9,455, the largest home crowd of the season and 10th largest in facility history. In response to the pitching performance, the Hog offense ripped 17 hits, their most during Southeastern Conference play. The 10 runs for Arkansas (21-6, 5-3) are tied for its conference-season high.

"Smyly is hard to hit," head coach Dave Van Horn said. "He worked out of a couple of jams. He created a couple of those jams for himself. He just did a tremendous job of pitching out of the stretch. He gave us exactly what we needed and that was for someone to eat up some innings."

Smyly (3-0) allowed one run on four hits and struck out five Wildcats in seven innings of work, which ties a season high. Despite walking seven hitters, the Little Rock, Ark., native never buckled. Kentucky (18-10, 2-6) got two on in the fourth and eventually loaded the bases, but Smyly got out of trouble by retiring Keenan Wiley on a groundball. All told, UK left nine runners stranded during Smyly’s seven innings Saturday. Jordan Pratt pitched the final two innings of the game and mowed down all six Wildcats he faced.

At the plate, Travis Sample had a breakthrough performance with a career-high three hits, including a two-run base knock in the fifth inning. Collin Kuhn continued his impressive showing as the Razorbacks’ leadoff hitter and led a group of five players-Kuhn, Zack Cox, Brett Eibner, Tim Carver and James McCann-that each posted two hits.

The Razorbacks opened the scoring with a three-run third inning. With one out, Kuhn doubled down the line in left field and came around to score on a Cox base hit. After a single by Eibner, the Hogs had runners on first and second with two outs. Andy Wilkins drove in the two runs with a double to right field and extended his hitting streak to eight games. During that stretch, Wilkins is hitting .419 with three home runs and 17 RBI.

Arkansas’ lead stretched to 6-0 in the fourth frame after a three-run homer by Kuhn. Sample led off the inning with a single and McCann followed suit with a base knock to left field. On a 1-0 pitch from Kentucky starter Taylor Rogers (3-3), Kuhn lined a shot down the right-field line that clanged off the foul pole for his fifth home run of the season. On the day, the Beaver Dam, Wis., native was 2-for-5 at the plate with two runs scored to go along with the three RBI.

In the home half of the fifth, the Razorbacks posted five consecutive singles to lead off the inning en route to a four-run frame. After a pair of hits by Eibner and Jarrod McKinney, Monk Kreder pushed a bunt past Kentucky’s charging third baseman for an infield single and the bases were loaded. Sample stepped to the plate and delivered his third hit of the day, a two-run single to right field.

"(Sample) did a great job," Van Horn said. "He made the plays in the field but also swung the bat. That’s what we were looking for to add to our offense."

Another infield single, this time by Carver, loaded the bases again. McCann reached on a fielder’s choice which allowed Kreder to score and give Arkansas the 10-0 lead. Kreder has now hit in nine straight contests, the longest current streak on the team.

The Wildcats pushed a run across the plate in the seventh inning. Taylor Black doubled to left field to lead things off. With two down, Gunner Glad singled to left field to drive in Kentucky’s only run of the contest. Braden Kapteyn flew out with a pair of runners on base to end the inning.

With a split in the first two games of the series, the two teams will return to the field Sunday with the series win up for grabs. Arkansas is scheduled to start Eibner (2-2, 2.28 ERA), while Kentucky will hand the ball to Alex Meyer (4-2, 6.15 ERA). First pitch of the series finale is set for 1:05 p.m. at Baum Stadium.