FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Tyler Spoon broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning with a grand slam over the seats in left field to lift the No. 1 Arkansas baseball team to a 5-2 victory over Evansville on Saturday afternoon at Baum Stadium.
The victory for the Razorbacks clinches the series and improves the team's record to 6-1. Evansville drops to 1-4 with the loss.
With the game tied at one in the bottom of the eighth, Arkansas put together a rally to win the game. Willie Schwanke led off the inning with a single and pinch runner Jordan Farris advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brett McAfee. Matt Vinson then laced a double off the left field wall, but Farris stumbled rounding third and had to hold to put runners on second and third. Jacob Morris was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Spoon, who belted a 1-0 pitch over the Razorback bullpen and left field seats to put Arkansas in front 5-1.
Evansville would not go quietly in the ninth. Kyle Pollock struck out to start the inning, but was able to reach first on a wild pitch on strike three. Another wild pitch moved Pollock to second and Jason Hockemeyer drew a four-pitch walk to put runners on first and second. Jonathan Ramon popped out to second for the first out of the inning. A walk to Chris Pearson loaded the bases and Andy Lasher drew a walk to force in a run and trim the lead to 5-2. The Razorbacks then called on Trent Daniel out of the bullpen and he was able to get the final two outs as has struck out Shain Showers for the second out and induced a ground out to second by Kevin Kaczmarski to finish the game and give Arkansas a 5-2 win.
Spoon extended his hitting streak to seven games with his eighth-inning grand slam. The homer was his second of the season and the four RBI gave him 12 runs batted in over his last five games. Spoon was on base a total of four times in the game, also drawing two walks and getting hit by a pitch. Eric Fisher added a pair of hits and drove in a run in the win.
Five different players had one hit each for the Purple Aces. John Day, Kaczmarski, Lasher, Pearson and Pollock each had a hit in the game. Lasher and Jake Mahon each contributed an RBI.
Arkansas reliever Jalen Beeks (1-0) earned the first win of his Razorback career. Beeks allowed a run on two hits in an inning of work. Daniel earned his first save of the season, striking out one and retiring both batters he faced.
Evansville reliever Cole Isom (0-2) was saddled with the loss after allowing two runs on four hits and striking out two in 2.2 innings.
Both starters received a no decision. Arkansas starter Barrett Astin pitched well, striking out five and giving up only two hits in six innings. Evansville starter Sam Johns allowed one run on two hits and walked six over 4.2 innings of work.
The Razorbacks struck first with a run in the bottom of the first. With one out, Joe Serrano and Spoon drew back-to-back walks. Fisher then chopped a single through the right side of the infield, scoring Serrano with the game's first run.
Arkansas had numerous chances throughout the game, leaving 12 runners stranded. The Razorbacks left the bases loaded in the third, stranded two runners in the fifth and again left the bases loaded in the seventh.
The score would remain 1-0 until the top of the eighth when Evansville tied the game at one. Lasher reached on an infield single to begin the frame and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Showers. An infield single by Kaczmarski put runners on the corners for Mahon, who lifted a fly ball to left-center that was caught by Vinson, but was deep enough to allow Lasher to score from third with the game-tying run and set up Spoon's heroics in the bottom of the eighth.
Arkansas and Evansville conclude the three-game weekend series on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. Freshman right hander Trey Killian (0-0, 0.00) will start for the Razorbacks, while the Purple Aces will counter with senior righty Kyle Lloyd (0-0, 0.00).
Chad Crunk: Arkansas Media Relations