Baxendale powers past Georgia
Posted: April 8, 2012 at 3:48 p.m.
FAYETTEVILLE DJ Baxendale pitched eight scoreless innings as No. 13 Arkansas defeated Georgia 8-0 Sunday at Baum Stadium.
Baxendale was on top of his game, striking out seven Georgia batters and scattering six hits across his longest outing this season. Baxendale threw 109 pitches, 84 of which were strikes.
"DJ could locate his fastball and threw the breaking ball where he wanted it," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "He used them all and kept them off-balance, and did a tremendous job.
"I like him on Sunday. It makes me sleep better on Saturday because I know I have a guy who can fill up the zone."
Baxendale bounced back from a pair of bad outings that resulted in him losing his spot as the team's Friday night starter. The junior right-hander had allowed 13 runs - 12 earned - in 5 1/3 innings on the mound at Mississippi State and LSU.
"Mentally, me and Coach (Dave) Jorn have worked on just relaxing on the mound," Baxendale said. "I was able to be loosey-goosey out there today and it worked for me.
I felt like I had been lacking confidence for most of this year. I felt like my old self again. I had confidence I was going to get the job done."
Nolan Sanburn worked around a leadoff walk in the ninth to close the team's sixth shutout this year. The Razorbacks (24-7, 7-5 SEC) won the best-of-three game series after losing the opener Friday.
Georgia (19-13, 5-7) rarely threatened Baxendale, who improved to 6-1 this season. The Bulldogs' best scoring opportunity came in the second inning when Colby Mays reached with a double and advanced to third with two outs.
The inning ended when Brandon Stephens struck out. Georgia stranded seven base runners.
"When you're throwing that many strikes, Georgia realized they had to go up there swinging," Van Horn said. "They weren't waiting around because they didn't want to be down in the count. There were a couple of quick innings."
Arkansas took the lead when Brian Anderson drew a bases loaded walk in the second inning and gave Baxendale plenty of cushion with a four-run third.
Dominic Ficociello hit a two-run home run over the opposing bullpen in right field with no outs to start the third inning rally. Jimmy Bosco and Joe Serrano also had RBI hits in the frame as Arkansas chased Bulldogs starting pitcher Pete Nagel.
Nagel finished the game pitching two-plus innings, allowing three runs on two hits and walked two batters. Georgia used five pitchers in the loss.
"We did a good job of mixing in a couple of big innings the last couple of days," Van Horn said. "We had a couple of nice innings where we scored runs after we advanced runners some way. We played well the last couple of days."
The Razorbacks added three more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Ficociello, who finished 2-for-5 with 3 RBIs, scored Anderson with a RBI single and later scored from second base on a Jacob Morris infield hit.
Tim Carver also scored in the inning on a Matt Reynolds fielder's choice.
The Razorbacks will travel to Oklahoma for a midweek game on Tuesday before hosting No. 8 Kentucky for three games next weekend in Fayetteville.