FAYETTEVILLE (ArkansasRazorbacks.com) – The No. 25 Arkansas baseball team (6-0) earned a come-from-behind victory Sunday with another explosive eighth inning to claim an 8-3 win over Eastern Illinois (1-6) that completed the Razorbacks' second sweep in as many series this season.
True freshman centerfielder Andrew Benintendi continued a torrid start to his Razorback career by blasting his first collegiate home run in the bottom of the third. Benintendi took a first-pitch fastball into the visitor's bullpen in right field for a two-run homer that gave Arkansas a 2-0 lead. He finished the day 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBI and three runs scored. Tyler Spoon recorded three RBI when he broke the game open with a bases-clearing double in the bottom of the eighth. Brett McAfee had two RBI, including a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh that put Arkansas on top 4-3 two batters after Brian Anderson singled to score Benintendi with the tying run.
Junior right-handed pitcher Jacob Stone (2-0) picked up the win for the Razorbacks after 1.2 innings pitched with zero runs allowed. He finished the seventh after being called on with one out and then, after Arkansas had taken a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the inning, retired the Panthers 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth. Freshman Zach Jackson came on in the third inning and threw 3.0 shutout innings while allowing just two hits and striking out three.
Arkansas wraps up its season-opening 10-game home stand with three games against South Alabama next weekend and a Monday matinee against IPFW. Game times for the South Alabama series are 3:05 p.m. Friday, 12:05 p.m. Saturday and 1:05 p.m. Sunday. Arkansas and IPFW are set for a 3:05 p.m. first pitch Monday, March 3.
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Coach Van Horn Quotes
Arkansas Head Coach Dave Van Horn (on the weekend sweep) – "It's good when you win three games. We learned a lot about our team, and I think our guys are pretty tough. We had another bad inning trying to figure out how to work that bullpen a little bit. Sometimes Sunday can get a bit dicey anyway having to throw a guy or two a second time. We did that and I think they did as well. Offensively, we bounced back. We punched in six runs in our last two at bats. It was an awfully big hit by (RF) Tyler Spoon. When Spoon got up there he wanted to embrace that moment, and I think when he got up there he did a really nice job of laying off the first pitch. Then he got the next one a little lower and hammered it into that (left-center field) gap. We used a lot of players as far as pitchers. The first six games we have used a lot of guys. Maybe one or two more pitchers will get in the game in the future, but it was a good three-game series sweep for us."
Arkansas Head Coach Dave Van Horn (on RF-Tyler Spoon's three-RBI double in the 8th) – "I think he wanted that situation. We knew that they were going to intentionally walk (2B) Brian (Anderson) with first base open and so did he. Nobody had to say anything to him. It was kind of like, ‘They think they can get you out more than they can get him out', which is a good move. It was just great to see him come through. Like I said, he laid of that first pitch that was high and got something down in the zone he could handle. It was big for his confidence, got three more RBI's right there. I think he almost has double-digit RBIs already, and that is great to see."