Arkansas baseball rolls in season-opener, snaps 13-game losing streak – SECcountry.com
FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas – One down, 55 to go.
The Arkansas baseball team had no trouble in its season-opener Friday afternoon at Baum Stadium, dispatching Miami (Ohio), 7-0, in front of a packed house.
The game was a nice little change of pace from the last time Arkansas played a competitive game against someone else. The Razorbacks had a 13-game losing streak dating back to last season, one in which they finished in dead last in the SEC.
Eric Cole: “We’ve been waiting about eight months to look across the field and see another team..waiting to finish a 13-game losing streak.”
— Eric Bolin (@ericwbolin) February 18, 2017
Throw in some good patience, some timely hitting and a dynamite start from the starting pitching, and everything was golden for Arkansas (1-0) on Friday.
Things were over quickly against the Redhawks (0-1). Arkansas chased Miami starter Cole Gnetz after 2/3 of an inning. Gnetz was all over the place and the Razorbacks had no trouble obliging him. Seven straight Arkansas hitters reached base in the first inning, that after the first three of the game did, as well.
Arkansas had six first-inning runs on five hits, three walks and two beanballs. Cole, who hit leadoff as the designated hitter, had a run and two RBIs. He walked to start the game and plated two with a single later.
Razorbacks hitters not doing anything over the next few innings was a little troubling. No one had another hit until Cole singled with one out in the sixth. Miami relief pitcher Brad Schwartz went five innings, giving up just two hits.
But it didn’t matter the way Blaine Knight was pitching. The sophomore right-hander, expected to be a staple in the weekend rotation this year, went four innings and struck out five while allowing just three hits. He was pulled to start the fifth inning after he had hit his pre-designated mark at 72 pitches.
Jake Reindl and Cannon Chadwick finished the game. They gave up just three hits, didn’t walk anyone and struck out seven.
Dominic Fletcher, a freshman center fielder, homered to start the seventh inning. It came off Andy Almquist, who relieved an exhausted Schwartz after he went five innings of one-hit ball.
Grading the Diamond Hogs
Most of what Arkansas did came because of Miami mistakes. Razorbacks hitters did have to have the eye to lay-off pitches (they walked five times), but after the first inning, the lineup had just three hits.
Miami didn’t have a single extra-base hit and had only two players reach second base at all. Arkansas pitchers struck out 12 and didn’t walk a soul.
The Big Stick + The Arm
He was lights out. He hit 99 miles-an-hour in the first inning, clearly looking as though he added some mass to his frame (he’s listed at 6-foot-3, 165 pounds). Coach Dave Van Horn said the radar gun on the scoreboard was off by four miles-per-hour, though. It was really “only” 95. Knight ultimately was lifted because of his pitch count. Van Horn had set it 80. He threw 72.
The sophomore began last year as a starter, too, but found himself a part-time player by the end of the year. Cole’s combination of speed, hitting for average and eye could make him a staple at the top of the lineup. He finished the game 2-4, with 2 RBIs, a run and a walk.
Honorable mention: Fletcher (2-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 runs)
Who’s next for Arkansas?
Game 2 in the series is Saturday at noon at Baum Stadium. The weather is supposed to be a high of 66 degrees with a 20 percent chance of rain.