Bats come alive in Game 5 of Hogs' fall series
Posted: October 18, 2012 at 7:39 p.m.
FAYETTEVILLE After going 35 2/3 innings without a score, the Cardinal squad broke out of its offensive funk on Thursday, defeating the White 13-5 in Game 5 of Arkansas' fall baseball series.
The Cardinal team scored nine runs with two outs in the top of the seventh inning, taking the lead for good on a two-run single by Joe Serrano. Dominic Ficociello, Jordan Farris and Jacob Morris also added RBIs in the inning, as did Tyler Spoon with a two-run single.
With the win, the club fought off elimination, pulling within 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.
"Nine runs with two outs is a pretty good inning," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "It started with a two-out hit and a hit by pitch, and a little dinker and a little flare tied it up and gave them the lead, and then it snowballed. They went 35 innings without scoring a run and you kind of knew it would happen. I'm glad we get to play again on Saturday.
"It's tough when you have 20 position players and you split them up to try to make the teams equal. On top of that, we have good pitching. Those teams aren't as deep or aren't as experienced as they would be come the spring. It's been good. It's been streaky, but there's a lot of learning going on out here."
Trailing 3-0 after a two-run single by Brian Anderson in the bottom of the third inning, the Cardinal team got on the board for the first time since Game 1 with a two-run home run by Morris, who finished the game 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs.
"It was kind of a joke for the other team to see how many innings they could shut us out for," Morris said. "It got to us a little bit. I know we're out here to have fun, but we're also out here to get better and it was nice to put some runs on the board."
Morris, Ficociello, Spoon, Serrano and Eric Fisher - all potential starters in the 2013 regular season - finished Thursday's scrimmage with a combined 12 hits and 10 RBIs.
"I was seeing the ball well," said Spoon, who had a game-high four hits. "I was trying to stay in the middle of the field. I got on the ball early and I was just trying to stay up the middle with all of my at-bats."
Trent Daniel pitched well for the White team, earning a no-decision after striking out seven batters in five innings, allowing the only runs on Morris' home run.
Barrett Astin earned the win for the Cardinal team by pitching 1 1/3 inning in relief of starter Tyler Wright, who gave up three runs in 4 2/3 innings.
Thomas Altimont allowed four runs - three earned - in 1 2/3 innings relief for the White team. Hayden Barnett, who gave up five unearned runs without recording an out, and Mike Sisco also pitched in the nine-run seventh.
Though the teams combined to score their most runs of the series, the game wasn't absent sloppy play. The Razorbacks had several base-running mistakes such as not scoring from third on a passed ball and being thrown out on a missed hit-and-run sign, presenting their coaches with plenty of teaching opportunities in the postgame.
"That's why us coaches are spread out all over the place," Van Horn said. "We all put in our two cents about what we see and do a little teaching and learning. A lot of the guys, especially the young guys, everything has been so easy for them and now everything is magnified. If you make mistakes, you're going to lose.
"Most of the games are one or two-run games and if you win 10 of those a year, you're a championship team, but if it goes the other way, you may not make a tournament. They're all important."
Arkansas hasn't hosted a regional the last two years and has had to go on the road for the entirety of its last two trips to the College World Series in 2009 and 2012. Winning those close games could be the difference in snapping that streak for a team expected to be ranked in the preseason top 10.
"Hosting is a huge deal," Morris said. "It's a lot easier to play when this place is packed with 10,000 people. If you go on the road, you get heckled and can't let it get to us, but it's a lot more fun to play in Fayetteville."
The two teams will scrimmage again on Saturday with a first pitch scheduled for noon. Game 7, if necessary, will be played on Sunday.