FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas continued warming up Saturday against a University of North Dakota baseball team that came in from the cold.
With Fayetteville temperatures in the 60s, contrasting to 5-below zero Saturday at the North Dakota campus in Grand Forks, the Razorbacks completed a three-game series sweep with a 13-2 and 12-1 doubleheader sweep attended by 6,733 at Baum Stadium.
“We aren’t patting ourselves on the back because we played a team that hasn’t been outside,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said Saturday. “But, I thought we did what we were supposed to do. I thought we played well and got to play a lot of people. Started two guys (Chad Spanberger and Cullen Gassaway) in today’s second game for their first time and they had six hits.”
For the series the Razorbacks scored 36 runs on 48 hits and most surprisingly, didn’t commit an error.
“You don’t expect to go three games without making an error,” Van Horn said. “Usually, something will happen, but we played pretty good defense. We did a good job making the good plays.”
Clark Eagan, Friday’s catalyst, going 3 for 5 with a single, double, triple and three RBI, continued hot Saturday, going 2 for 5 in the first game with a RBI and three RBI in the nightcap.
Between four home runs, three triples and four doubles, 11 of Arkansas’ 16 hits were extra- base hits in Saturday’s 13-2, first-game victory of the doubleheader.
Andrew Benintendi, Rick Nomura, Brett McAfee and Carson Shaddy hit the Razorbacks’ first home runs for 2015 in Saturday’s first game, while Bobby Wernes hit two triples and Tyler Spoon doubled and tripled.
Nomura’s home run to center was run out inside the park.
Dominic Taccolini, Arkansas’ first-game Saturday starter, threw five shutout innings with just two singles against him before Tyler Follis’ one-out, infield single and Tyler Campbell’s two-run home run in the sixth.
Taccolini completed the sixth by striking out the side.
Lance Phillips in the seventh and Parker Sanburn in the eighth threw scoreless innings as Arkansas played without an error.
“It’s awesome,” Taccolini said of the defense. “All you got to do is throw strikes because you know they are going to catch it. It’s nice to get enough runs like that. I felt good. My fast ball command was pretty good throughout and I threw my curve ball for strikes when I needed to.”
North Dakota losing starter Zach Muckenhirn was betrayed by two errors allowing Arkansas unearned runs in the second and was removed after Benintendi’s home run leading off the fifth. Campbell, the home run hitting first baseman, took the mound relieving Muckenhirn. Campbell took it for the team. He was pounded for 10 hits and eight runs before Ben Clark finally relieved him to wrap the seventh.
In Saturday’s second game, Arkansas starter Zach Jackson had to extricate himself from jams every inning, allowing five hits and two walks, but finished with eight strikeouts and a 4-1 lead upon handing off to reliever Jackson Lowery opening the fifth.
Arkansas’ three-run fourth — including RBI singles by Michael Bernal and Clark Eagan and Tucker Pennell’s sacrifice fly — broke open a 1-1 game against North Dakota losing starter Alex Twenge.
Arkansas scored one off an error in the fifth and bludgeoned reliever Brent DeGagne for five in the sixth — three on Spanberger’s bases-loaded triple. Spanberger finished with four RBI, singling one home in the eighth.
In Friday’s 11-4 victory, the Razorbacks overcame 3-0 and 4-3 deficits by playing errorless defense and unleashing an 18-hit attack with Eagan, Nomura and McAfee all going 3 for 5.
Four Razorbacks pitchers Friday combined for 13 strikeouts. Winning junior college transfer reliever Cannon Chadwick struck out three in 1 1/3 innings. Freshman Jonah Patten fanned five, closing the eighth and ninth.
Arkansas next plays in a three-game tournament Friday through Sunday at Mobile, Ala., against Central Florida, host team South Alabama and Maryland.
“We have our hands full next weekend and they know that,” Van Horn said. “It’s going to be a major challenge playing two ranked teams and South Alabama in their own ballpark.”
Saturday’s 1st game
North Dakota…..000 002 000 – 2 5 3
Arkansas……….020 026 12x – 13 16 0
Muckenhirn, Campbell (5), Clark (7), Favarro (8) and Follis, Pigeon (8); Taccolini, Phillips (7), Sanburn (8) and Pennell, Shaddy (7).
HR- North Dakota: Campbell (1). HR-Arkansas: Benintendi (1), Nomura (1), McAfee (1), Shaddy (1).
W-Taccolini (1-0). L-Muckenhirn (0-1).
Saturday’s 2nd game
North Dakota….000 100 000 – 1 7 2
Arkansas………100 315 00x – 12 14 0
Twenge, DeGagne (6), Bresnahan (8) and Pigeon; Jackson, Lowery (5) Alberius (7), Pate (7), Stone (8) and Pennell, Gosser (7).
W-Jackson (1-0). L-Twenge (0-1).