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Fisher highlights Diamond Hogs' exhibition opener

Posted: October 12, 2012 at 12:49 p.m.

First baseman Eric Fisher had three hits, including two with the bases loaded, on Thursday.
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First baseman Eric Fisher had three hits, including two with the bases loaded, on Thursday.

— First baseman Eric Fisher is ready to make up for his year lost on the bench.

After redshirting his second season at Arkansas in 2012, Fisher has worked as the Razorbacks' primary first baseman this fall. He was the key player Thursday in Game 1 of the annual Cardinal-White fall series at Baum Stadium, recording 4 RBIs on three hits and leading the Cardinal to a 5-4 win.

Arkansas infielder Eric Fisher recaps Game 1 of the Razorbacks' Fall Series Thursday at Baum Stadium.

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Eric Fisher - Fall Series Game 1

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn recaps Game 1 of the Fall Series on Thursday at Baum Stadium.

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Dave Van Horn - Fall Series Game 1

"I'm still young baseball-wise, so being able to redshirt last year really helped take my head away from the game," Fisher said. "I was able to focus on the little things and that really helped.

"I think I've improved defense. I'm also more disciplined at the plate and able to foul off pitches a little more. It's definitely been better."

Fisher, a redshirt sophomore from Spring, Texas, has allowed Arkansas to shuffle its infield after losing three starters from last year's College World Series team. Dominic Ficociello, a two-year starter at first base, has moved to second base this fall.

"I think it's gone real well," Fisher said. "Ficociello has been good in the infield and does a good job turning double plays at second base. I've always played first, so it's nice to be able to stay there and settle in, and see him at second."

On Thursday, Fisher had two-run singles with the bases loaded in each the first and fourth innings as the Cardinal team built a 5-0 lead. The unit was paced by a strong start from freshman right-hander Trey Killian, who retired the first 12 batters he faced.

Killian finished the game pitching 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and striking out six batters.

"For four innings he pitched outstanding," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "Then he got a little tired and lost some velocity."

Freshman third baseman Willie Schwanke broke up Killian's no-hitter with a solo home run to lead-off the top of the fifth inning that pulled the White team within 5-1. Schwanke, a Frisco, Texas native and son of former LSU hitting coach Jim Schwanke, was the Dallas Morning News offensive player of the year as a high school senior.

"He's a good hitter and has a good eye," Van Horn said. "He's serious. A lot of freshmen come in and watch, and try to learn that way. He does that, but he's also serious, works hard and he wants to play. His bat is going to get him in that lineup."

After Brian Anderson added a run on an error in the fifth, the White pulled within 5-4 on a pair of RBI singles from Isaac Hellbusch and Jake Wise in the top of the seventh inning.

Landon Simpson stranded a batter in the seventh and worked a perfect eighth inning for the Cardinal team before Barrett Astin struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth to earn a save.

"Barrett will probably end up being a starter, but he did look pretty nasty there in the ninth," Van Horn said. "What we're doing with our older pitchers is we're just cutting down their innings. We're letting the young guys start the game and the older guys finish. It's to take care of the arms more than anything."

Chris Oliver, who gave up five runs in 3 2/3 innings, picked up the loss for the White team. Brandon Moore, Hayden Barnett and Ryne Stanek combined to pitch 4 1/3 scoreless innings after Oliver left the game in the bottom of the fourth.

Cardinal outfielder Tyler Spoon, who went 2-for-2 with 1 RBI, left the game in the fourth inning after being hit in the knee with a pitch. Spoon appeared to be OK, Van Horn said, though he will be evaluated again Friday.

Spoon was one of the top players in the Alaska League over the summer, hitting 10 home runs.

"That ball hit him and it made a loud pop," Van Horn said. "It hit him right on the side of the kneecap and it was a little scary. He's a tough kid and when he didn't get up, it kind of scared us.

"If he's in a lot of pain tomorrow, we'll get it X-rayed. Hopefully he'll be ready to go tomorrow, or at least by Sunday."

An announced crowd of 107 fans watched the game - significantly less than players will see during SEC games in the spring, but a large crowd for an exhibition.

"It was nice to see what some of these players were able to do with people watching," Van Horn said.

The two teams will meet in Game 2 of the best-of-seven series on Friday with a first pitch scheduled for 3 p.m. Senior left-handers Tyler Wright (Cardinal) and Trent Daniel (White) will start on the mound.

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