Omaha, Neb. – The No. 6 Arkansas Razorbacks defeated No. 8 Kent State 8-1 Saturday to advance to the winner’s bracket of the 2012 College World Series.
The Hogs (45-20) jumped on Kent State (46-19) early getting a run in both the first and second inning to give D.J. Baxendale (8-5, 3.07 ERA) all the run support he would need against the Golden Flashes.
Baxendale threw 6.1 innings limiting Kent State to three hits and one earned run while striking out five.
Baxendale looked sharp early working the ball in on hitters while pounding the strike zone on the outside corner. His fastballs had good late movement and his breaking pitches had good bite.
The Razorbacks were able to work Kent State starter David Starn (11-4, 2.48 ERA) in the first inning, loading the bases with one out before Starn got out of the inning with a much needed double play ball hit by Bo Bigham.
Arkansas short stop Tim Carver drew a leadoff walk to put pressure on the opposition’s pitcher, something not seen often by the Razorbacks against Baylor in Super Regional play.
Carver was moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt by designated hitter Joe Serrano. Then Starn walked Matt Reynolds and Dominic Ficociello before Brian Anderson brought Carver home for the first run of the game.
The Hogs drew three walks in the first inning forcing a 26-pitch inning by Starn.
In the second inning Arkansas catcher Jake Wise hit a two-out solo shot to left field to up the Hog’s score to 2-0.
Arkansas was able to get the lead off runner aboard again in the third inning but a double play ball got the Flashes out of the inning without any damage.
Kent State would turn four double plays on Arkansas throughout Saturday’s game to limit the overall run total.
Baxendale had 1-2-3 innings in the first, second, and fourth before giving up his first hit of the day in the fifth inning.
In the sixth inning Baxendale gave up his second hit of the day, a solo homerun to Golden Flashes shortstop Jimmy Rider. Rider posted the only run of the day for Kent State on his sixth homer of the year.
During the bottom of the sixth Bo Bigham doubled down the left field line to start another Razorback rally. Left fielder Derrick Bleeker drew a walk to put runners on first and second with two outs. Centerfielder Matt Vinson hit a two-run double down the left field line to extend Arkansas’ score to 5-1.
Brandon Moore came in to relieve Baxendale in the seventh inning with one out and runners on first and second. Moore was able to induce a ground ball to short for out two and a pop out to center to escape the inning without giving up any runs.
Moore worked a 1-2-3 eighth and closed out the ninth for the 2.2 inning save.
Moore allowed one hit and did not give up a walk in his appearance.
The game was not without some controversy. In the eighth inning with Arkansas up 5-1 and the bases loaded, Matt Vinson swung on a pitch that hit his foot bouncing in to foul territory behind the catcher on the third base side of the field.
The ball was not ruled a dead ball by home plate umpire Frank Sylvester but a passed ball allowing one run to score moving the score to 6-1.
After Vinson’s at bat Wise hit a two-run single to right pushing the Arkansas lead to 8-1.
Arkansas pounded out 10 hits off of Flashes pitching on Saturday but the majority of the damage was done by the bottom half of the order and not the heart of the Hog lineup. Joe Serrano finished the game going 3-3 at the plate, Brian Anderson 2-3, Bo Bigham 2-4, and Jake Wise 2-3.
Wise drove in three runs and Matt Vinson knocked in two on a 1-4 day in the batter’s box.
Arkansas awaits the winner of the South Carolina vs. Florida game. The Hogs next game is scheduled to start at 8:00 p.m. CT on Monday June 18.
Bracket One Update
Friday UCLA beat Stony Brook 9-1 to advance to the winner’s bracket. The Bruins will take on fellow Pac-12 member Arizona after the Wildcats beat Florida State 4-3 in 12 innings.
Stony Brook and FSU play their elimination game at 4:00 p.m. CT on Sunday followed by UCLA vs. Arizona at approximately 8:00 p.m.