FAYETTEVILLE - For Razorbacks fans even with old Southwest Conference days long gone, nothing warms a cold Arkansas night like trouncing Texas.
So despite a 50-degree start chilled into a 40-degree finish, most of the 5,140 Tuesday night at Baum Stadium departed well warmed by Arkansas’ 13-4 branding on the Longhorns including a 7-run third inning initiated by two Texas throwing errors on Carson Shaddy’s hit and run single.
The victory behind winning Arkansas junior lefty starter Kacey Murphy, 2-0, bequeathing an 11-2 lead to reliever Jacob Kostyshock to start the seventh, ups Arkansas to 12-4 and tumbles Texas to 7-5 going into today’s 4 p.m. conclusion of the 2-game nonconference series.
Jordan McFarland, 2 for 4 with a 3-run double and RBI single for four runs batted in coming off a grand slam against Kent State Sunday replacing injured (hamstring) first baseman Jared Gates, Lonoke’s Casey Martin, 3 for 5 with a 3-run home run nicking the left field foul pole, and Eric Cole, 3 for 5 with two doubles, led Arkansas’ 13-hit attack.
Arkansas opens SEC play hosting Kentucky in a 3-game SEC series at 6:30 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday at Baum while Texas opens its Big 12 season hosting Kansas this weekend in Austin.
“I thought Kacey Murphy gave us what we wanted,” Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. “ He gave us five or six innings. He didn't walk anybody, three or four strikeouts. Got us off to a good start throwing the ball over the plate. On the other side of it, we walked a few times in that third inning. We had a nice hit-and-run by Carson Shaddy and got it first and third. Then things went crazy after that on that play where they threw it around a little bit.’
Van Horn said Murphy, 78 pitches, should be ready to pitch relief by Sunday against Kentucky.
“Oh, yeah, I’ll be 100 percent ready to go Sunday,” Murphy said.
Texas ran, or more accurately threw, into trouble in the 7-run Arkansas third.
McFarland walked. Shaddy hit and run singled to left. Left fielder Masen Hibbeler threw wildly to third allowing Shaddy to second though though losing starting pitcher Beau Ridgeway threw vaguely towards second anyway retrieving the first errant throw. , Ridgeway’s errant throw scored McFarland for two errors on the same play. Despite the miscues, all seven third-inning runs became earned. Cole singled one home with one out. Heston Kjerstad walked. Luke Bonfield doubled one home routing Ridgeway for reliever Bryce Elder. Dominic Fletcher’s sacrifice fly and two walks preceded McFarland’s 3-run double past third baseman Reynolds.
“We had one of our hit and runs of the season,” Cole said. “Coach Van Horn is really smart about that stuff. So him calling that was the perfect situation for it because we hadn’t run it much and they weren’t expecting it. It was executed perfectly and that kind of got the bats rolling. He always says you can’t sit back and wait for a home run so let was good to get the offense going without a home run after home run.”
Murphy’s perfect 0.00 ERA through three starts and 13 2-3 innings got smudged by Zach Zubia’s 2-out solo home run in the fourth and DJ Petrinsky’s 1-out solo home run in the fifth. Petrinsky hit a 2-run home run off Kostyshock in the seventh that would have been a 3-run home run but for Fletcher’s spectacular catch in center robbing Austin Todd of an extra base hit before Reynolds walked
McFarland ’s RBI single in the fifth followed Koch and Biggers singles before Martin, presuming his fly ball had turned foul, was stunned still at home plate to see it glance off the left field foul pole for a 3-run home run.
“The wind blew it back and it clipped the foul pole which is kind of unusual,” Van Horn said.
“I think that’s the third time that Casey hit the foul pole,” McFarland said. “He works his magic when he’s down in that corner.”
Cole doubled home two in the seventh.