Razorbacks sweep Demons


FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas struggled to score runs earlier this season, suffering through poor performances with a lineup struggling to come up with big hits.

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn believes his team’s success in a midweek series against Northwestern State is another sign that’s all in the past.

“You can tell the team is having fun and they’re confident,” Van Horn said.

The Razorbacks enjoyed another big day at the plate, battering the Demons 15-3 in front of an announced crowd of 1,979 in Baum Stadium.

Arkansas (27-16) collected 13 hits for the second straight game to sweep the midweek series against Northwestern State (22-19). Nine different players had at least one hit in Wednesday’s finale. It led to a season high in runs, which also was the most Arkansas has scored since a 15-3 win at South Carolina on March 22, 2013.

The Razorbacks have scored six or more runs in eight of the past 12 games.

They had reached the six-run mark just five times in the previous 24 games.

“It’s been good for everyone,” Arkansas first baseman Eric Fisher said of the recent success. “Guys are hitting balls hard. Whenever you’re not getting the hits, it sucks. So whenever you can hit the ball well and you’re getting outcomes that you want, it’s good for your confidence and for everybody else on the team.”

Fisher has been one of most improved players during the stretch. The junior continued his home run spree with Arkansas leading 4-1 in the third inning Wednesday. The left-handed hitter clubbed a first-pitch fastball from Northwestern State reliever Evan Tidwell over the right field fence to make it 6-1.

It was Fisher’s team-leading seventh home run this season.

It also was his fifth home run in the past nine games.

“I just kind of saw it and put a good swing on it,” Fisher said. “I really saw it take off and knew it was going to get out.”

Fisher’s success was topped an inning later when second baseman Brian Anderson hit a three-run home run over the left field fence. It was Anderson’s fourth home run this season, equaling his total from the 2013 season.

It was Arkansas’ 10th home run in the past 11 games.

“It was an incredible shot,” Van Horn said. “When it left the bat I was thinking it was a double off the wall. It just screamed out of here. I didn’t know if the umpires knew what to call, but the ball landed in the bullpen and it’s got to be fair.”

Anderson went 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs and 3 runs. Fisher finished 2-for-5 with 4 RBIs and 2 runs Wednesday. But center fielder Tyler Spoon (2-for-5, RBI, run) and Jake Wise (2-for-4, 2 RBIs, 2 runs) also enjoyed multi-hit performances.

Wise — who is hitting .170 — drove in two runs with a double off Northwestern State starter Devin Bear (0-2) in the second inning.

“It’s a great sign when you have guys like Jake Wise at the bottom of the order that are squaring the ball up, getting multi-hit games down at the bottom of the order,” Anderson said. “It seems like there’s not really a top and a bottom to our lineup when those guys are seeing the ball and putting the ball in play.”

The effort up and down the order helped Arkansas build an 11-1 lead in the fifth inning. Then the Razorbacks were able to get others involved in the late innings.

Arkansas used five pitchers Wednesday. It included relievers Dominic Taccolini (1-0), who replaced starter Alex Phillips in the fourth inning, Landon Simpson, James Teague and Lance Phillips.

KJ Wilkerson, Garrett Rucker and Josh Alberius also got a chance to play after spending much of the past few weeks on the bench. Wilkerson and Rucker each singled as part of a four-run eighth, which pushed Arkansas’ lead to 15-2.

The Razorbacks will try to carry the success into their next Southeastern Conference series against Auburn in Baum Stadium. The opener is Friday at 6:35 p.m.

“Everyone on the team seems to be getting on base,” Anderson said. “So that’s a good sign for us that hopefully our offense is starting to click a little bit. We’re starting to mesh together and realize our identity and know that we can score runs.”