CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Timely hitting and solid defense lifted the University of Arkansas baseball team to a 3-2 victory over Liberty in their first game of the NCAA Charlottesville Regional at Davenport Field Friday.
Brian Anderson provided an offensive punch that included a home run, two hits, a walk and two RBI in the win. Chris Oliver (9-4) got the win and Michael Gunn and Jacob Stone were solid in relief as Arkansas moves to 39-23 on the year. The Razorbacks face host Virginia (45-13) at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Liberty (41-17) scored first in the top of the second inning. Arkansas starter Oliver began the game strong with two quick outs but his control waned in the bottom of the first and he continued to struggle in the second frame. The Flames’ Dalton Britt opened the stanza with the game’s first hit, ripping a ground ball through the right side.
Oliver hit the next batter and both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Oliver then loaded the bases with a walk to the number eight hitter for Liberty. The right-hander rallied with a strikeout but promptly hit the leadoff hitter, Ashton Perritt, with the first pitch, allowing Liberty to score it’s first run. Oliver still had bases loaded and struck out the next two hitters to end the inning leaving the bases loaded.
With one swing of the bat, Razorback Anderson tied the game blasting a home run over the right field fence in the bottom of the second. Anderson led off the inning for Arkansas and lifted a 1-1 pitch that just kept climbing until it cleared the fence in right. It was Anderson’s seventh home run of the season.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Joe Serrano worked out a 3-0 single on a ball hit to deep short. Dave Van Horn had the hit-and-run on and Andrew Benintendi laced a ball through the vacated shortstop position as Liberty’s defense cheated toward second base. The hit allowed Serrano to move to third with no outs.
Anderson hit a 2-1 breaking ball in the gap between third and short that allowed Serrano to score giving the Razorbacks their first lead of the contest. Next, Arkansas loaded the bases taking advantage of the first walk by the Liberty staff. Bobby Wernes hit a bouncing ball to short and was thrown out at first but the deep play allowed Benintendi to score making it 3-1 Hogs.
The Razorbacks allow the Flames a second run in the top of the fifth but Oliver, who battled back all night, did it again getting a fly ball and line drive to end the threat and preserve the 3-2 lead heading to the bottom of the fifth inning.
Liberty threatened again in the top of the ninth inning getting the leadoff man on. They dropped a sacrifice bunt to move a man into scoring position but closer Stone got back-to-back ground balls to end the game.
Arkansas finished the contest with three runs and seven hits while leaving seven runners on base. Liberty tallied two runs on five hits and left 11 men on base.
·The Razorbacks improve to 39-23 overall in 2014.
·Today’s game with Liberty was the first meeting between these teams.
·Arkansas is 10-3 with Clark Eagan in the leadoff spot.
·The Razorbacks are making their 13th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and 27th overall.
·Arkansas is 65-56 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
·Arkansas is 47-37 in NCAA Regional action.
·Arkansas is 9-5 in NCAA Regional openers over the last 13 years.
·Arkansas faces Virginia in game two of Regional action.
·Virginia (45-13) defeated Bucknell (30-20-1) in the opening game, 10-1.
·Joe Serrano’s single in the fourth inning was his 20th career NCAA Tournament hit. He entered the Charlottesville Regional hitting .432 all-time in 13 NCAA Tournament games.
·With Anderson’s solo home run in the second inning, he reached the 50 RBI mark, becoming the first Arkansas player since Dominic Ficociello in 2011 to do so.
·Arkansas turned its SEC-leading 59th double play of the year in the third inning.
·Michael Gunn’s 3.0 innings pitched tied his season-high. He also threw 3.0 innings at Florida and allowed just one hit in each outing.
·The Arkansas pitching staff allowed two runs or less for the 33rd time in 62 games.
·The one-run game is the 22nd of the season for Arkansas. The Razorbacks are 10-12 in those games.
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