June 17, 2012 at 1:47 AM CDT - Updated June 27 at 7:56 AM
OMAHA, Neb. – Junior catcher Jake Wise had two hits, including his second home run of the season, and three RBI to lead the University of Arkansas baseball team to an 8-1 victory over Kent State at the College World Series on Saturday in front of 23,980 fans at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.
"I thought it was a very clean game," Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. "Both teams played very good defense. We got off to a good start offensively. We had a good plan against (David) Starn. I was proud of our hitters. I thought DJ (Baxendale) was incredible. I knew after the first inning he had it because he threw every fastball right where he wanted to."
The Razorback victory keeps Arkansas in the winner's bracket of the CWS where it will face the winner of the Florida-South Carolina game scheduled for later Saturday evening. Arkansas and the winner of Florida/South Carolina will play Monday night at 8 p.m. on ESPN2. The Razorback victory is its second consecutive first-round win at the College World Series (2009) and improves the Razorbacks to 45-20 on the year. Kent State drops to 46-19 with the loss.
Arkansas pitchers DJ Baxendale and Brandon Moore combined to allow just one run on four hits in the win. Baxendale (8-5) earned the win after allowing a run on three hits and striking out five in 6.1 innings. Moore picked up his third save of the season, throwing 2.2 shutout innings.
Offensively, the Razorbacks put together a 10-hit performance with the bottom four hitters in the order accounting for half of the hits. Wise tied a career-high with three RBI and went 2-for-3, including hitting his second home run of the season. Wise also scored a pair of runs in the win.
"When I hit it (the home run), I thought it was a double," Wise said. "The wind was blowing out so that helped it get out. I was ahead 1-0 and was looking for something elevated against him. He left it over the plate and I was able to square it up."
Joe Serrano was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate, tying a career high in hits. Serrano also added a RBI. With his 3-for-3 performance on Saturday, Serrano improved to 10-for-17 (.588) in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
Bo Bigham and Brian Anderson each added two hits. Bigham scored a pair of runs, while Anderson had a RBI and a run scored. Matt Vinson had a two-RBI double in the sixth inning, which helped to break the game open.
Kent State starter David Starn (11-4) took the loss. Starn allowed five runs on six hits and walked six in 5.2 innings.
David Lyon, Sawyer Polen, Jimmy Rider and T.J. Sutton each had a hit for the Golden Flashes. Rider hit his sixth homer of the season, accounting for the only run of the game for the Golden Flashes.
Arkansas struck first with a run in the bottom of the first. Tim Carver drew a leadoff walk and was then sacrificed to second by Serrano. Back-to-back walks by Matt Reynolds and Dominic Ficociello loaded the bases with one out. Anderson then hit a liner that hit off Starn and went for an infield single, scoring Carver. Kent State was able to avoid further damage as Bigham grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
The Razorbacks added another run in the home half of the second when Wise hit a 2-out solo blast over the wall in left-center field, his second homer of the season.
Arkansas stretched the lead to 3-0 with a run in the bottom of the fifth. Wise drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Carver. Serrano then lined a single up the middle to score Wise from second.
Kent State got the scoreboard with a run in the top of the sixth. With two out, Rider hit a solo home run into the left field bullpen to cut the Razorbacks' lead to 3-1.
Arkansas answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth. After the first two batters of the inning were retired, Bigham chopped a ground ball over the third baseman's head and down the left field line for a double. A walk to Derrick Bleeker put runners on first and second. Vinson then lined a double into the left field corner to score both runners.
The Golden Flashes had a chance to cut into the lead in the top of the seventh, but came up empty. With one out, Sutton singled up the middle and advanced to second on a walk by Nick Hamilton. Moore then came in and did the job, getting Polen to ground out to short and Alex Miklos to fly out to center to end the inning.
The Razorbacks tacked on three insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth after loading the bases with one out. Anderson scored on a wild pitch, then Bigham and Bleeker crossed the plate on a two-RBI single to right by Wise.