Fant's second gem ends Diamond Hogs' fall series
Posted: October 20, 2012 at 3:19 p.m.
FAYETTEVILLE After stringing together some good outings to end his junior season, Randall Fant's senior year is off to a strong start at Arkansas.
Fant, left-hander, pitched seven scoreless innings on Saturday, leading his White squad to a 5-1 win in Game 6 to clinch the Razorbacks' fall intrasquad series. Fant allowed only two hits and one walk, and struck out seven.
"I thought it might be a little bit of a battle mentally for him, but he's come back 360 degrees of what I was thinking," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said of Fant, who failed to sign after being selected in the 32nd round of the MLB Draft earlier this year. "A lot of the older guys have told me he's been more focused and he's pitched better than ever.
"If there was an MVP in this series, it would be Randall."
Also a Game 3 starter, Fant pitched 15 scoreless innings during the series for Arkansas. The Texarkana, Texas native needed 163 pitches to record 45 outs in the series, an average of 3.6 pitches per at-bat.
His great change-up was complemented during the fall by a cut-slider, which he developed in the off-season.
"It's been a weapon," Van Horn said. "It runs in on the right-handers and ties them up. He always needed another pitch and never really developed a breaking ball - some guys can throw it and some guys can't. That pitch might be the one that gets him to the next level."
The White squad scored all of its runs in the top of the third inning. Brett McAfee's two-run single gave the team the lead for good, while Willie Schwanke also added a two-run single in the inning.
Schwanke, a freshman infielder, finished with three hits on Saturday. He batted .286 during the six-game series, adding another RBI with a solo home run in Game 1.
"He had a great fall," Van Horn said. "Whenever they go (opposite field) as young players, that's nice to see, and he did that with a couple of hits. He's a guy who will battle to get in the lineup with that bat, whether he's playing first, third or designated hitter. He's a left-handed guy with some power and has a very good eye at the plate."
Jake Wise, who added a RBI with a fielder's choice in the third, was the top hitter this fall with a .450 batting average and 4 RBIs. That, coupled with his defense behind the plate, stood out to Van Horn.
"He had a tremendous fall," Van Horn said. "He was just nails behind the plate and had a pretty good fall swinging the bat. He caught almost every game last year and caught some this summer before hurting himself a little bit. He's done a tremendous job."
Brandon Moore replaced Fant in the eighth inning, recording three outs in seven pitches. Ryne Stanek closed the game, allowing a run on a two-out single by Eric Fisher, who finished the fall with a .333 average and 5 RBIs.
The White team recorded shutouts in Games 2, 3 and 4, and held the Cardinal without a run for 35 2/3 consecutive innings at one point.
"Overall, I thought we threw pretty well," Stanek said. "We threw strikes and kept the hitters off-balance. The starters were able to work late into games because they were efficient early in the game."
Saturday's game signified the end of Arkansas' fall practice, which began in early September. The Razorbacks will begin preseason practice in January and will open the 2013 season with a three-game series against Western Illinois on Feb. 15.